Why Collect Records? Here’s Why

This is an excerpt from a book entitled Record Collecting As Cultural Anthropology. (Via The Vinyl Factory)

There are many reasons for collecting recorded music, both by individuals and institutions, and various situations in which that collecting takes place. Sociologist Roy Shuker described a wide range of them in Wax Trash and Vinyl Treasures: Record Collecting as a Social Practice, and I won’t try to list them all here. He noted one thing they mostly have in common: Whereas collecting many types of objects involves setting them aside and removing them from regular use, records by necessity “retain a strong element of use value – people will play them,” because that is the only way to experience their contents.

I have heard tales of extreme record collectors whose new acquisitions are immediately sealed hermetically and hidden away in light-and temperature-controlled vaults; however, no one I know seems to have actually met such a character. Collectors, in my experience, generally love to share what they find, with friends via listening sessions or by swapping mixes, or more publicly as DJs or music writers. They would agree with rock musician Jeff Connolly that the whole point is “using the music”: “There is no joy in ownership,” he said. “The joy comes when you play the record.” Music critic Simon Reynolds described his collection as “material with use value, whether that was pleasure or research.”

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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.

One thought on “Why Collect Records? Here’s Why

  • August 1, 2013 at 2:14 am

    This couldn't ring more true, and as a younger collector it's filled with nostalgia for me to collect & listen to records. As I blast "Frampton Comes Alive" my mind is flooded with memories of my Dad coming home from work and spinning the very same album on the back deck back home in Ontario.


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