Vinyl records: the last true commitment and appreciation of music
The tradition lives on
We've all had several iPods, phones, tablets, computers, MP3 players and all kinds of other electronics gadgets to haul around with us and carry out music wherever we go. The convenience is strong selling point but allow me to sell you on vinyl and the time proven hobby.
Bang for your buck
From brand new releases to reissues of highly-desirable rarities notwithstanding, vintage vinyl to color vinyl and releases for special events like Record Store Day, vinyl albums can be reasonably priced when purchased at your local record store or mom and pop shop. One important thing to remember when choosing your records is the grading of the record. Grading is the condition of the record which includes the playing surface, the label, the edge of the record and other items. The grading can range from good (which in this case means really bad) to sealed/mint (which means brand new, virtually or actually).
Bargain shopping can help you build your collections pretty quickly and it helps when you're only spending single-digit dollar amounts for lower grade older records and preteen double-digit amounts for newer or mint condition records. Image this, what would you rather show off: a wall of music or your iTunes library?
Think about yourself 20 years from now as you're sitting in the living room talking to your grandkids about the music you grew up with. When it comes time to show them what music was like back in your days, would you like to pull out your old Mac or phone and hand them a set of earbuds or would you rather take them into your living room, sit them down on the floor, pull out your record player and break out a limited edition blue clear vinyl of Jack White’s Lazaretto?
Vinyl records exist in a single source and can only belong to one person at a time, generation to generation. This would be the proverbial “passing of the torch” from father to son or grandfather from grandson. The conversations it would spark and the stories that you would be able to tell at that time would be priceless.
Vinyl is about people
Over the years, music has brought people together and at times apart. People will always have opinions and there is no better way to share them than in person. Record stores bring people together who share similar tastes in music but also allow you to wander into genres that you never knew you would like. With iTunes and streaming services, file sharing sites and music blogs, there is a level of humanity stripped and hidden behind faceless discussions.
I can personally tell you that I have both shared and found music that today I still love and listen to simply by going to my local records store and engaging in a conversation with a total stranger who had in his hands a record.
The commitment and appreciation of music
Who hasn’t flown by a new album after only listening to the first 15-20 seconds of a song and making the decision that you didn’t like it? An album on vinyl commits you to a listening experience. An album on vinyl more or less obligates you to listen to the record from start to finish and allows you to appreciate the art just a little more.
Depending of course on what kind of records player you own, you can’t wash the car or do the laundry or mow the lawn while listening to an album on vinyl...and that’s ok. Listening to vinyl allows to take a break from the world and relax. It takes a lot of people to put an album together and you should appreciate all of it. From the art work that goes into the album cover, the inserts that come with the album, when lyrics to the songs are printed on the inserts and even the posters that sometimes come with the record. All of these items enhance your listening experience.
Digital download cards
Most new releases come with a digital download card. I won’t argue that carrying music with you on your phone or tablet is handy. Who wants to get stuck on a 5 hour flight with a chatty salesmen from Toledo (I’m sorry Ohio readers, I mean no disrespect) on his way back home from a fabrics convention?
New releases allow you to download the music and carry it with you while still giving you the musical experience for years to come. Yeah you could risk using a file sharing site to download it for free but most of us know that it’s only a matter of time before that blue screen on your computer makes you shell out money for repairs that could have been avoided.
Skip the hassle and deal with the musician by going to their website, entering a code, downloading the music virus free and maybe even check out their site and content. You might learn something about them that you didn’t know.
The music sounds better by design
If music is originally recorded by analog means, reel-to-reel tapes, that purity is lost along with fidelity (‘faithfulness” to the original sound) when converted to digital. To fit the entire contents of an original score into an MP3 or WMA of AAC format, certain pieces of the song are paired down when compressed and converted. Remember going on that long trip but having to take clothes out in order to close the zipper on your luggage only to realize that on day 4 of your trip you had run out of underwear? Apply that concept to your music. True music lovers want to hear every horn, every guitar riff, every background singer and every bassline.
If you are still skeptical then go to your local record store and buy a record. Begin with a band or a record that you have heard in the past or get something that you are familiar with. Going with something that you don’t know anything about could ruin your first experience and turn you away from the experience. Wet your palate and see how that goes.
Take the time to read the album cover from front to back, look at the artwork and read the inserts. Really pay attention to the music and to all of its components and the slow crackle of the record player when it comes time to turn the record over. This is truly one of those unique experiences that cannot be recreated.