Why Do People Collect Vinyl Records?

There’s something about being able to boast about how many linear feet of music you own. “See how much I love music? I let it take up THIS MUCH of my personal space!” It’s also a sense of ownership, this idea that this music is yours and short of a fire, flood, natural disaster or massive break-and-enter, no one can ever delete it or take it away from you.

Collecting–or as it’s known to non-collectors, hoarding–can be obsessive and expensive but in the end can be very satisfying. Noise Addicts takes a look at the quest of those who have a need for vinyl.

I have thought a lot about this subject and I am posting here to offer my views as someone who just likes music, and is not that fussed about the format. I grew up in the 80’s and in my earliest years vinyl was everywhere and cassettes were commonplace too. The appeal of the CD was that it was not as highly perishable as the other two and the sound quality was always perfect and never changed from the day you bought it. In this day and age it is quite easy to covet vinyl but a lot of people were sick of changing sides, looking for their favourite track on the LP, and dealing with scratches and skips. After all, people paid good money to listen to the actual music and they expected something durable.

CD did live up to its promise as I still have some CD’s mastered in the early 80s and they still sound perfect. Kept in great condition, a CD will play the same as it did all those years ago and a well engineered disc can still wipe the floor with vinyl. The reason people started to collect vinyl is because music fans did not always like the difference in the sound between LP and CD. A lot of classic albums were remastered for CD. They did not necessarily sound bad but they did not sound the same as the way people remembered them. There is certain music people associate with the way they heard it originally. I heard a lot of records by bands like the Ramones back then but when I hear the CD’s, the masters are different, and they don’t sound the the way I remember.

Sometimes the difference can be significant. For people who never heard the music then, it shouldn’t matter since they have no memory or any specific association with that sound. That is one reason why people collected older albums – they preferred the way the vinyl version sounded. Another reason was because the older albums came out when LP was the dominant format. If you heard The Beatles in the US in the mid-60s, you heard their specially made US albums with all their sonic imperfections. Some people like to hear the albums the way the audiences heard them back then, to purchase physical objects associated with that period. Some albums were never released on Cd and are very rare. The myth that people bought LP’s for better sound or because they exude emotion is nonsense spouted by an industry that has been threatened with extinction.

If you’re a collector, you need to read the rest.

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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