Being a child of the 70s, 80s (and quite possibly a large chunk of the 90s), has provided me first-hand insight into changing … mediums. Analogue to digital and the creation many other digital channels. I can’t attempt to explain if any of these were good or bad ideas, but I will say, it continues to be a hell of a ride! ‘Cyclical’ is a word you may have heard thrown around. A lot. Seriously, it just keeps coming around …
What’s old is new – and by this I mean #vinyl. During my childhood, my medium of choice was an AM Radio and my parents’ Record Collection. I really enjoyed listening to music – nothing unique in that. I did take free piano lessons at Primary School, but after I’d mastered “Chopsticks” my enthusiasm had faded. So, back to radio and records. I listened to my parents’ records on an old wooden encased turntable/speaker set-up on our pool room (as in Pool Table). The first records I remember playing were The Doobie Brothers “The Captain and Me” and the Godspell Soundtrack, but I didn’t treat them well. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had no idea how to handle vinyl and I was pretty callous with those records. My parents weren’t impressed.
Lesson #1: Respect property – especially that of others. (Well, I was just 6-7yrs old)
Years later, once I had begun my vinyl journey (nobody called them vinyl back then, they were just records or albums) I began to realize I was a “collector” of sorts. More of an enthusiast, as I bought what I liked, when I could afford it. My first #Album was Queen – Greatest Hits (which later became known as Greatest Hits Vol.1) which was suggested by my step-brother, Darryl. He was a big fan.
Lesson #2: Listen to other opinions and be prepared to trust their advice.
I also remember buying my first 7” Single. As I began to listen critically to other types of music, I was intrigued by a song I kept hearing on the radio … other than the “oldies” tracks my parents had always seemed to listen to. I dropped my pocketful of collected change on the counter and proudly took home, Heaven 17 – “Temptation” … which was received with mixed reviews from friends/family.
Lesson #3: Research … and do what you like.
By now my collection was growing. Over the next few years I was introduced to; Punk, Post Punk, New Wave (well, more synth music), Alternative, Rock, Classic Rock and still more commercial “Hit Music”.
Lesson #4: Diversify.
I transitioned from volunteering on a local Campus (“alternative”) Radio Station to working at a local (“commercial”) Radio Station. I was faced with the dilemma of leaving the “cool” arena of alternative music I had discovered and playing the music I had previously sworn to hate! But it was my job… I found myself justifying this (because I loved listening to commercial radio as a child) by recognizing radio-friendly music served a purpose and had a happily engaged, listening market. Plus, I began to like it again.
Lesson #5: Embrace change and keep an open mind.
My first flatmate was a huge classic rock fan and a ‘Record Collector’. This was back in the days when you sent away a letter for a distributor’s catalogue, waited for it to arrive, read it cover to cover, made your selections, then mailed your order/bank draft back (often to another country) and happily waited several months for your records to arrive. He converted me into a classic rock fan and taught me a huge amount about the origins of “rock”.
Lesson #6: Always be ready to learn something new.
I even bought some Led Zeppelin II … on Compact Disc.
Lesson #7: Don’t be afraid of change.
But I still loved/bought vinyl.
Lesson #8: Stay true to yourself.
Eventually, with my growing experience and expansive record collection, I landed a gig DJing at a local nightclub. I needed to play a lot of “Dance Music”.
Lesson #9: Be prepared to Specialize.
In this role, I was expected to play requests, to a varied (and more often than not) intoxicated audience. Everyone wanted their favourite song played – or if they had just arrived and missed it, wanted it played again. Now!
Lesson #10: Diplomacy can be a huge advantage.
Eventually, I realized leaving a career in radio was not the smartest career move, so I was thankfully able to return to my previous role at the Commercial Radio Station.
Lesson #11: Don’t burn your bridges.
** Ok, those last two lessons weren’t directly related to vinyl, but they were learnt in the presence of vinyl. **
—– —– —– —– —– —– —– I LIED. THERE’S ACTUALLY 18 LESSONS —– —– —– —– —– —– —–
Once I realized I had a true love of vinyl, that would continue (since I’d shipped my collection of approx. 1,200 records to Canada), my on-going collection skills needed to be honed. I need to learn the current norms of “Grading” the physical condition of used vinyl, as provided on Discogs. (NM – Near Mint to P – Poor)
Lesson #13: Keep up with current industry developments/techniques.
All very good! Buying vinyl again is fun, until after another visit to a local Music/Record Fair, you realise you’ve inadvertently purchased the same vinyl. Yes, I had a Excel Spreadsheet at home on my computer, but whilst “Create Digging” I had no way to double check my inventory. A fellow collector was happy to suggest a mobile option, which I now use almost every time I revisit a record store or music fair. This has saved me many double-ups/wasted money – plus, it’s great for insurance purposes!
Lesson #14: Invest in technology that will save you time & money.
So I was officially a vinyl collector, again! Buying vinyl records on-line has become vastly easier/safer in recent years, especially with the aid of sites like Discogs. As a result, I’ve made purchases from several international sellers (USA and Europe) and to reduce shipping costs per record, I often find myself buying additional vinyl … that’s more of an impulse.
Lesson #15: Set budgets and stick to them.
Also, walking into music fairs that are Cash Only, with only your budgeted amount in your wallet helps. Another problem I’ve discovered is at a later date, whilst physically digging through bins at local stores, I’ve then located the vinyl (previously purchased on-line) for a much cheaper price. Ouch.
Lesson #16: When possible research/buy local.
But I’ve also discovered the locally sourced vinyl or record sleeve, was of a lower quality than the record I had previously purchased/imported.
Lesson #17: Learn from your mistakes … but don’t beat yourself up.
Shortly before Discogs began to drain my bank account, I discovered a Canadian seller via Kijiji.ca who had many great albums/singles for sale. I contacted the seller, who emailed me the full catalogue in a spreadsheet. I spent many hours reading through the catalogue, creating a shortlist, before making a final selection for purchase. Once submitted, I was sent a price for my purchases & shipping – which required a Canada Post Money Order. This was a little unusual, being the age of Emoney transfers, PayPal etc. so although I felt somewhat weary I moved forward with my purchase. I Googled the postal address, checked the physical location, and reached out to some local collectors who were aware of this seller – who confirmed it was legitimate, their only concern was the grading could be a little “generous”. So, I mailed my order off … which eventually arrived, well packed and as described.
Lesson #18: Be wary, but trust your “gut”.
There you have it. My “10 Life Lessons Vinyl Record Collecting has taught me” – these may not be ground-breaking, but I hope they were informative and perhaps even slightly amusing.