A Look at the World’s Biggest Private Record Collection

How many physical records do you have in your collection? I’m somewhere north of 10,000, but I’ve been in the business for more than 30 years and was a musical packrat before that. My wife hates that so much of basement is taken up by vinyl and that most of my upstairs office has been given over to CDs, both filed and unfiled. But the next time she complains, I’m going to point her towards Zero Freitas whose record collection is somewhere around six million.

This is from The Vinyl Factory.

Brazilian businessman Zero Freitas owns over six million records, a collection which he intends to catalogue for public use and transform into a vast listenable archive.

Published exclusively on The Vinyl Factory, writer and cultural sociologist Dominik Bartmanski visited Freitas’ São Paulo warehouse for a rare interview with the man himself.

Nearly everyone interested in records will have, at some point heard, the news that there is a Brazilian who owns millions of records. Fewer seem to know, however, that Zero Freitas, a São Paulo-based businessman now in his sixties, plans to turn his collection into a public archive of the world’s music, with special focus on the Americas. Having amassed over six million records, he manages a collection similar to the entire Discogs database. Given the magnitude of this enterprise, Freitas deals with serious logistical challenges and, above all, time constraints. But he strongly believes it is worth his while. After all, no less than a vinyl library of global proportions is at stake.

How to become a part of this man’s busy timetable – that was the question that remained unanswered almost until the very end of my stay in São Paulo in April 2015. It was 8 am on my second last morning in the city, when Viviane Riegel, my Brazilian partner in crime, received a terse message: ‘if you can make it by 10am to his warehouse, he’ll have an hour for you’. That was our chance. We instantly took a taxi from the city’s south-west part called Campo Belo to a more westerly neighbourhood of Vila Leopoldina. We were privileged enough to listen to Freitas’ stories for what felt like a very quick hundred minutes. His attitude and life’s work provoked compelling questions.

Read on.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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