AbsolutePunk.net’s Adam Pfleider on Vinyl Collecting
Our friend Adam wrote up a piece for the blog after his Record Store Day experience. Yeah that was a few weeks ago, but really, every day is sorta kinda record store day for all of us vinyl nerds anyways so I think it’s still relevant. Adam also offered up some really interesting thoughts on the hoarding aspect of vinyl, and what motivates him to collect the wax. He also brushed his teeth before doing so:
Record Store Day has come and gone yet again. We not only had the “holiday’s” biggest list of releases since the shindig first started four years ago, we also saw the lines begin to get longer and prizes more sought after. The eBay sales hit the web almost immediately with doubled and sometimes tripled prices. Some of you simply missed out on those one or two exclusives you really wanted. It’s okay, that’s the thrill of the game the other 364 days of the year. Last week I left my house, and in an eight minute panic of a rush, I jetted to a local shop to get a copy of Olivia Tremor Control’s Music from the Unrealized Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle. I spent a little under half of a bill on what I usually spend during Record Store Day. It’s the thrill of the catch. Someone probably saw that new arrival video on Facebook for the store just hours later and will have missed the big fish. From the limitations of a Glassjaw 7” and that original press of that old blues 45” even the eldest of junkies are still looking for, the game of ownership is all in the catch. It’s why we have car auctions. It’s also probably why Antiques Roadshow is still fucking cool.
The value in the record is all in the one who seeks it though. See, just days after the OTC purchase and two other notable snags from the same store, I was watching yet another new arrival video while receiving a call from a close friend that he was on his way to grab a copy of Botch’s We Are the Romans that would pop up in the video as I was on the phone with him. After three notable grabs just days earlier, the diamond in the rough (1st press /800 on black) was missed out. Again, that’s the game, and it’s why we as avid collectors play it. Let’s for a minute take out of the equation of vinyl collecting the parts about “how it sounds” or the “tangible medium” or “how it feels in your hands” and, at its lowest level, let’s call it hoarding. In a sense, it really is, but it’s just a better looking prize and has a limited number on it. You and under “this many” people own a copy of something, that’s a reward and something special in itself.
Currently I’m reading Brett Milano’s book Vinyl Junkies and it’s quite a good intake of opinion. It’s an interesting read based on a lot of opinions from all different walks of light. There’s musicians who create the product to the average junkies who have whole rooms full of records, some “just to have them” or “have more than others.”
Is this a tragedy for some? Maybe. I think it depends on the collector. Many of us will “say” it’s about the sound or music, but I call bullshit on about half those people. I didn’t get a decent system until six months ago. At that point, I was well over 150 pieces of wax. Now, I’m easily over 200+ and growing. In just under five years, my vinyl collection has out grown my CD collection. (read: bought, not given in advance form due to my freelance writing job.) There’s something special about most of the records I own. There’s a story behind many of them. I think, in the end, that’s why they sit outside in the living room of my apartment while my CD collection is stacked in my closet. Subconsciously, any collector wants to show off their true collection.
Collecting vinyl runs even deeper to the level of betrayal. With the resurgence, some labels are making profit off of artists no longer on the label, but still obtaining the rights to print and profit. I myself purchased two albums that are the core of my personal collection against the will of two of my favorite bands I have constantly supported to this day. Does that make me seem like I have a problem? Does that make me a shitty fan? I don’t know. In all honesty, collecting vinyl is a very personal thing, so why should it matter?
I give you a shroud of warning as a short time collector, it’s addicting and it’s expensive. If you have the time and the disposable income - and believe you me, I don’t always have both - it can sometimes bring you closer to the music. It’s not ignored in the background, but you are more aware of its presence flipping an album (especially a 2xLP on 45rpm) and is way more rewarding than just walking into a Best Buy or downloading digitally.
The prize for collecting vinyl lies on many levels, and each level of satisfaction depends on why you got into it, and more importantly, why you stick with it for an extended period of time. It’s truly an investment. For avid listeners and music enthusiast, we may never find that gem before we die, and let’s face it, like it’s explained in Milano’s book, we simply can’t take it with us when go. Like someone who tends a garden or enjoys a fine beer or scotch, it’s there for some of us to enjoy a moment of zen in the fucked society of drudging work and sometimes financial woe (sometimes brought on by all of this) that surrounds our every day lives.