I know this question has been answered a million times, and I likely have no new, inherent information to pull people to my reasons on why people collect vinyl records, but I nonetheless will write on this topic.
Nowadays, with the plethora of formats that we can listen to music on, it might often take most people by surprise that a small portion of the population in the world still collects vinyl records. I know that for me, when I was first introduced to this hobby of collecting records I was incredibly hesitant to begin it.
“Why would I collect vinyl records? There are already more accessible formats. I can collect more CDs! Or maybe I can try my hand at creating better song playlists! Why would I invest in this ridiculous hobby?”
After all, I have no doubt that the artist’s writing and recording their music were satisfied with the pops and clicks that appeared on their albums through vinyl records. I also have no doubt that many people would be turned away today if Taylor Swift’s 1989 or, crossing genres completely, Disturbed’s Immortalized were recorded with these random pops and clicks in mind, which, frankly, if I weren’t such an odd eccentric fellow, I might not be collecting these albums on vinyl either.
But people do collect them. There must be some reason why. And honestly, the reasons are similar to why someone would collect Harry Potter memorabilia, action figures, video game collectibles, and thensome.
But I want to put these into more concrete terms, so here are the reasons why I believe people collect vinyl records.
- It’s more involved than other listening formats – While it’s true that streaming services and digital downloads make music more accessible and easier to play from anywhere, it’s not a permanent solution to the act of enjoying music. placing a record on a turntable, dusting it off and dropping the needle somewhere along the edge of the record feels more involved than pulling it up on my smartphone. Of course, I could drive a half an hour or more to go see a show. But I don’t always want to spend my time and money driving to a show and watching a band be eclipsed by the unrelenting sound of a rabid fanbase. Sometimes, simply kicking back in bed or sitting down and closing my eyes while a record plays is what I’d rather do. Plus it keeps me away from my phone addiction (shhhh, don’t tell anyone it’s an addiction).
- It’s more aesthetically appealing than other formats – I don’t know about you, but there are few things that really catch my eye when I am scrolling Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube. The only time where it does catch my eye is when it is informative, gives me a slight chuckle, or I intentionally searched for it. And that is few and far between. Stepping into a record store and rummaging through the place feels more like a long-term experience than a short-lived Instagram scan. Interesting considering the dichotomy between how often I am in record stores and how often I am on my smartphone. But it also shows that there is a liveliness to vinyl records that other formats, especially digital, don’t always have. It feels much better to put on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on vinyl rather than have the entire album be played from your phone or CD, afterwhich you’ve likely missed several key parts in each song and have forgotten the whole experience while preparing dinner or watching a Youtube video.
- It serves a dual purpose of being able to be displayed and listened to – Unlike CDs, which are usually shelved or placed, small, on a shelf to be seen by others, Vinyl records come in large, thin boxes containing 12″ polychloride vinyl records. That, in itself, can be an entire display, unboxing, and listening experience of forty to sixty minutes depending on the length of the records music. But that’s what makes it so fun to collect. I can make a record wall and display all my records. When I want to, I can pull them off the shelf, pick one I particularly listen to, and be entranced in the mood and atmosphere of the record as I listen to it, check out the art, and imagine what the art might be if it were in movement or I had a different image from the music itself. Music is meant to express, to inspire and to be an actionable process whether we listen to or play it, and vinyl record packaging and the music within contains all of those proponents.
Those are my personal reasons for collecting vinyl. It’s simply a better process all around for listening to music, and plus with the all the pops and crackles, there’s a sense of ownership. The music industry for the most part has reported a sincere loss in the revenue it acquires, and I strongly support the idea that we as listeners and fellow human beings should purchase and listen to our favorite artists.
And another reason that justifies my last point above is about the fact that vinyl records can’t exactly be ripped perfectly from their source. CDs, on the other hand, can be ripped and downloaded, then sent to other people, diluting the sales of the artist’s worth. I want my favorite music artists to make more music in their best environments and not be constrained by the music industry itself.