I’ve been here before

I had a vinyl collection from 2007 until 2011, when I decided to divest. It was small, but had a lot of great stuff. Some of the records really did sound better, but mostly because the early 2000s were flooded with remasters that were getting on board the loudness wars and compressing the shit out of tracks.

I don’t honestly remember much going into the decision to dump the record player. I think in the end, I just wasn’t using it that much. It was work, and I had no love for a tea ceremony in my 20s..

The Rethinking

In recent years, I’ve been lightly rethinking vinyl. I like a collection (I have … hundreds? Thousands? of books even though most of my reading is with eBooks). I like well-made objects. And in my world of indie post-rock, math rock, and various other hyphenated music with guitar, heavy vinyl pressings are becoming more and more common. I love streaming music (RIP Radio)– I discover more new music now than at any other time in my life (except maybe the first 6 weeks in a college dorm abusing the hell out of OurTunes). But I don’t love how small artists are treated, financially, by Apple or Spotify. I hate that what I pay is not divided among the artists I listen to, but instead thrown into a global listen count. If I spend an entire month listening to nothing but covet, they should get all of the money from my monthly fee that goes to artists. It shouldn’t matter that I only played that album 10 times that month.

I can’t bring myself to pay for digital files of songs I already pay to access, and I can’t be bothered to painstakingly curate a huge MP3 library. Those days are gone. Although I have no opposition to pay for digital media or software in general, I’m not sure my principles extend to buying the same thing effectively twice. But vinyl could be an interesting way to buy something a little different and support the artists I love.

None of this was helped by moving to Hampden in Baltimore, which has a seemingly rad record store right next to my favorite bookstore. I often think about, and then studiously avoid walking in after spending far too much on books I’ve already read.

That small itch, supported by the fact that there’s plenty of gear to geek out over, probably would remain unscratched. But now I have a new problem.

The Enabler

Elsa is vinyl curious. And by vinyl curious, I mean that Elsa has decided that the vinyl experience is something that should be a part of our lives. She knows what she’s doing, fully aware that this is the kind of thing that takes prodding me just the tiniest amount to turn into a reality I sink time and money into. She has out her prod, and it’s electrified.

So now I have to figure out what record player to buy, whether or not I need to drop extra money on a special cartridge and supplies to clean dust off. I need to think about storage, where the record player will go, and how to make using it more convenient in our lives. I get to open about 100 tabs for the next month to just buy the obvious thing.

In the meantime, after years of feeling bad that I just “skipped” this part of music, I made a Band Camp account and started preordering some records.

Yes, I’m aware that Jess bought a record player when she went out to Seattle.