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Ten Tips On Starting Your Own Record Collection

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By Lauren Armao

It’s no secret that for the last few years, vinyl has been making a huge comeback. Since I started my collection back in 2015, I’ve picked up a plethora of tips that will help you get started with your own! Here are ten tips you should know, in no particular order:

Equipment – you get what you pay for.

You don’t even need a record player to begin collecting records, but when you do get around to buying one, an important thing to remember is that you get what you pay for. If you buy a $50 record player, you’re going to have to replace the needle every few months and some of your records will be damaged – that’s a fact. The price might seem appealing, but it’s much more worth it to save the money and invest in a good set up. You don’t have to drop $700, but at least $100-$200 is good to get you started. My record player (Audio Technica) was $100 and I haven’t had to replace a thing since I got it. As for speakers, you can usually find good deals online or DIY. I found some old speakers that my family didn’t use from our old TV and they work great. Do your research, read reviews, and even go in store to test stuff out if you can. Remember that it might be worth it to wait to get the deal (I saved about $50 on mine on Black Friday).

Where to shop – and where not to shop

The two most convenient places – but also the worst places – to shop for records are Barnes n’ Nobles (or other similar chain bookstores) and Urban Outfitters. While they often do have a good mix of new releases and older titles available, they are extremely overpriced, and you will easily pay anywhere from $5-$15 more at those places than you would at an actual record store or online. Sometimes Urban Outfitters will have special editions of albums (such as the red edition of the LANY self-titled record that I love dearly) that are definitely worth buying. However, if you are just looking for a plain edition of a record, go to an actual record store or shop online.

Go to record stores – and get ready to dig.

Don’t judge a record store by the pictures online or even by the customer reviews – remember, not everyone is looking for the same music, so one store might be better than another for different people. Go out of your way and drive to them. Go with your friends. Go with someone who is into records like you are.

Most importantly, when you get there, dig! You can find great stuff if you really take the time to look. If you know exactly what you’re looking for and want to go to that section first, then that’s fine (we’ve all been there), but make sure to browse around even after you find what you’ve been looking for. Don’t just look for ten minutes and give up!

Buying online is not a sin

Don’t be afraid to buy online if you a. Either can’t find what you’re looking for in store, or b. Find a better deal. I wouldn’t mess with craigslist, and I would also be careful with Ebay (make sure you really read the reviews, make sure the seller has a good rating, etc), but Amazon is fantastic if you absolutely can’t find a record anywhere/want a better deal. You can pretty much find any record you want at least $3-7 cheaper than it’s priced in stores (plus, free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime!). Also, buying records from the band’s record label website is great too. I don’t know much about the bigger labels, but Hopeless, Fearless, and Victory Records all have amazing online stores that have really great deals on both regular and special-press records.

Buy what you want, not what you think you should buy

Your record collection is just that. Yours. Don’t be swayed by people who say a certain genre of music “doesn’t belong” on vinyl. Buy what you want, and don’t be ashamed of it. If you want to buy a pop or electronic album on vinyl, go for it. Yes, alternative/indie and rock albums are the most popular genre of vinyls that people buy, but if that’s not your thing, don’t buy them. Otherwise, you won’t get as much enjoyment out of your collection. Same goes for special presses – yeah, that splatter vinyl might look cool, or it might be rare, but if it’s not by a band you actually like, save your money. Otherwise, you’ll just have a bunch of records sitting on your shelf that you don’t really enjoy.

Know when to buy

If it’s limited edition or a boxed set and it’s by a band you really, really love, get it, because chances are you won’t be able to find it again after it’s sold out, at least not at the same price. On the flip side, if you’re at a record store and you’re debating between a few records, leave the one that’s more common. For example, maybe you’re debating between Blink-182’s “Cheshire Cat” and Nirvana’s “Nevermind”. You can find the Nirvana record at practically every record store you walk into, but Cheshire Cat is a little harder to find in stores. If you know you’ll be able to get your hands on the record eventually because it’s so common, then get the one that’s a little less common.

It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality

Going back to #5, fill your collection with records you genuinely love and enjoy. Record collecting is a way to celebrate and find even more joy in music you already love.

Be open minded

A collection is meant to grow! Don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone. Buy records that your parents or friends or the guy or girl at the record store suggests. That being said, I would start your collection with your absolute favorite albums and then grow from there.

If you don’t listen to a record anymore, many record stores will buy it back from you for store credit!

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s great to remember, since tastes change and sometimes you’ll have a record on your shelf that you haven’t listened to since you bought it. In that case, thrifting it or donating it back to the record store is a great option, because not only can you get some form of credit (for some stores, not all), but it gives someone else a chance to enjoy what might be their favorite album on vinyl.

Don’t feel guilty

Record collecting is expensive, and sometimes you’ll think to yourself, “Man, I spend way too much money on vinyls.” You’ll have other people in your life say this to you too. But don’t feel guilty! Just remember that this is a collection you will be able to keep for the rest of your life and eventually pass down to your children (or other important people in your future). Music is something that you’ll be able to appreciate forever.

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