There is really no one way to describe who the people who buy vinyl records are. We buy for various reasons. There are folks, like me, who just like music in general. Some of us buy to resell. There are many new fans who have just begun to buy records, including fairly young collectors, who are looking for vinyl records that were made before they were born. Some may have inherited their “baby boomer” parents collections and developed an interest from that. I remember by parents rather large console stereo in the 1960s which was a part of the room furniture. Their love of music was inherited by me.
Records have been collected ever since they were invented. I think many people collecting today are interested in the modern era LP or single but there are still collectors seeking out the early 20th century 78 rpm singles. Much of the interest in 78s is that of the early blues and rock & roll. Blues in those days did not sell very well so as a result they are fairly rare and more valuable.
78 rpm rock & roll was just beginning to be pressed when the 78 format was being phased out so for most singles pressed after 1955 the 78 version is harder to find than the same record pressed on the 45 rpm format, which began in 1949
So there is not one single answer as to who is collecting but there are a few explanations that could apply to the bulk of today’s collectors.
I Want Something For My Money- Or Something To Hold
With records you have something you can physically hold, as opposed to digital downloads, you can actually hold in your hand a record. A buyer will ascribe a value to something he can hold. A collection of digital music will reside on a hard drive or in the cloud out of sight, almost invisible. Whereas a record collection will be kept on a shelf or in a case where it can be shown off to friends and family.
I sometimes just enjoyed looking through the shelves thumbing through my collection for the sake of looking at it. And if I ever decide I don’t want to collect anymore I can always sell my collection as there is a value to it. A digital download you cannot sell. The market for used CDs is zilch, but a vinyl record will retain some value and some records will actually rise in value over time if they are well taken care of.
Here is a comment I found from a reader of another vinyl record blog I follow… “The thing I miss most about 45s and even LPs is the artwork. Holding that madeyou feel like you got something for your money.”
Here’s another comment from a music blog.. “I couldn’t agree more. To me, physical format is what completes the album. The artwork, liner notes, lyrics and photos are all part of the album experience. Sure, I listen to an overwhelming majority of music on my iPhone. However, I enjoy having a library of CDs. It’s similar to seeing a library of antique books in an old, Victorian mansion. Oh yeah, I still buy books as well! Blu-Rays also! Imagine that!”
And one more…“the feeling of satisfaction you get when you finally get your hand on a records you had ´bookmarked´ in your brain for a time cannot be compared to the nonexistent feeling of nothingness you get when downloading the same ´record”.
Records Have A Physical Size-Bigger Is Better Right?
Records have the advantage of physical size. Vinyl records are much larger than a CD so it is a lot easier to read song titles, lyrics and liner notes. I know I need a magnifying glass to read anything on a CD these days. The album jackets are larger giving an appreciation to the album artwork.
When listening to a record you can spend hours of time reading the album cover. You can learn who the various musicians are performing on each song and who is playing what instrument. Who designed the artwork etc. Try learning that from a Cd liner if you have poor eyesight. The cover photos and graphics often represented a lot of time, money and effort on the part of the creating artist.
I can remember times when I’d sit in the recliner with a record playing and the album in my lap just reading all the liner notes or following along to the lyrics. That’s how I learned who some great musicians were. If I like a certain guitar player who was working with a group or musician I would look for other songs that artist played on.
Remember the album cover from The Beatles “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”? I know I spent hours looking at that cover trying to identify famous people in the crowd.
Swag or Schwag-Gimmie The Free Stuff
Record albums often included items such as stickers and/or posters which are impossible to distribute in a CD case. I remember in the 50’s and 60’s you could get cardboard cutouts or trading cards from some teen idols like Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka, and a host of others.
Do you recall going to a friends room and finding his/her walls covered with posters of musicians? Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” included two full size posters that are still sought out today so if you have a copy of that LP with the posters today in decent shape you could sell it for $30 or $40.
Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles also came with came cardboard cutouts that are still sought out today.
Vinyl Records Sound Better-Well Maybe Not
Some would argue (myself included) that the sound is better, much warmer and fuller. To an extent that can be true but actually a better quality sound can be achieved by digital recording. The sound quality issue becomes evident when comparing a vinyl record to a MP3 or a digital recording that has been compressed to reduce the file size. An uncompressed digital recording is much more capable of reproducing sounds that cannot be heard on an analog recording.
But as an old time vinyl listener there is nothing that beats the scratchy sound when the needle hits the vinyl. Even an occasional pop, click or hiss just adds to the mystique of listening to and watching a record spin, and the needle magically reproducing the sound stored on those tiny grooves.
We Just Like The Music or Artist-I Want Them All
Vinyl records are just our musical media of choice. Or some are simply attached to a favorite artist and want anything and everything produced by our favorite band or singer. Some of these collectors want a copy of every single or LP put out by them including foreign releases or issues with a different band line up or different album artwork.
For collectors of very popular artists such as Elvis Presley or the Beatles, this sort of collection could consist of thousands of LPs and 45s, if they try to buy every variation or pressing. If I remember correctly there are over 500 different pressings of Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy”! Look up one of your favorite albums on Discogs.com sometime. You will be amazed at the number of various pressings and releases of just one album.
Why I Collect-As For Me And My Records
As for me, in my earlier days, I collected records from the artists that I liked and heard on the radio. Around my senior year in high school I pretty much quit buying singles and collected albums. There were some groups that I would automatically buy their newest album as soon as it was released. Groups like the Doors, Beatles and Rolling Stones were an automatic purchase for me as soon as they hit the stores.
Now I look for old favorites that I don’t have. The majority of my buys today are bulk purchases of either 45rpm singles or 33 rpm albums that I can flip on eBay and make a few dollars each on. I never attempted to buy each variation or 1st pressings, I wasn’t that hard core of a collector.
As always, I look forward to any comments anyone might have so go ahead and leave some feedback on your thoughts about anything I’ve said. Or if your a collector I would love to hear about what you collect or why you collect.
Until next time happy collecting,