Before last year I was always under the impression that vinyl was for hipsters and the rich. The only people I knew with collections had shelves packed with hundreds of records and while I thought they looked nice, I didn’t understand the point of spending all that money on something I could get on Spotify for a few dollars a month.
Having vinyl felt like this pretentious thing that only a select few could take part in. These feelings changed however when my roommate brought home a turntable.
The first time I went into a vinyl store I was overwhelmed. I was exposed to a range of genres and artists I had never heard of and I was reminded of classics I had yet to explore. The Who. Fleetwood Mac. Joni Mitchell. Music I had known from my parents but never listened to suddenly became discoverable in a way it hadn’t been before.
Since the creation of digital music, I feel like it is less and less common to sit down and listen to a full album. Normally people will listen to singles and the top songs of an artist they like while others will only browse the Global Top 50 of the week.
I always had the option to listen to full albums on Spotify but it wasn’t until I started listening to records that I understood how different the experience could be. Vinyl has made me especially interested in concept albums like The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance, and American Idiot by Green Day; without listening to the full album I would never get the whole story and understand the messages every artist attempts to convey.
The bargain bin
My absolute favorite aspect of the vinyl store has become the bargain bin. I remember the first time I visited a record shop I spotted five giant bins with a sign above reading “4 for $10”.
As someone who loves a good deal, I beelined to said section. I picked up a range of things from National Breakout by The Romantics to a compilation of Czech Christmas songs that reminded me of home.
Everyone in my apartment came back that day with a bag filled with music which we then sat down and listened to one by one, laughing when we heard a wacky disco track and singing along when we recognized a song we all knew.
Every time I go to the vinyl store I head to the bargain bin and make a game out of finding the weirdest albums.
Rule 1: I can not buy an artist or record I have heard of. Rule 2: I am not allowed to look up anything about the album. Rule 3: The vinyl must be judged solely by its cover. I have bought around 30 records at this point from the bargain bin and only two have been misses.
Listening to vinyl has expanded my music taste in a way that I have never experienced and I thoroughly enjoy finding new artists to listen to, whether they have been around for a long time like Melanie or are more new like First Aid Kit.
Sharing the music
I have also loved sharing my newfound interest in vinyl with my dad. As soon as he found out my apartment had a turntable he immediately started sending us music he thought we’d like as well as the music he listened to on his own player when he was a teenager.
In all honesty, if my dad made me a playlist I probably wouldn’t listen to it but when he sends me and my roommates a record every month we gather around the speakers and binge it as if it’s the latest show on Netflix.
Curating a collection makes a difference
In the digital age, it sometimes feels hard to be connected to the content we consume. I am a huge reader and love to have a physical copy of the books I read and I enjoy having the equivalent to that for music. Each month I save my money for vinyl and when I purchase an album it feels like an investment, a commitment between myself and the artist in which I listen to their story and they share their art.
After a year I have around 60 records in my collection and combined with my friends around 100. I have found that when someone puts on a record we all flock to the living room to listen.
We argue about who gets to pick next, who has to flip it, and how loud we can turn the volume up until the neighbors are sure to complain. Music has allowed us to connect in a way that I never thought it could have.
Want to read about an instance where Gen Z and Gen X may not agree? Click here.