Updated: Apr 26, 2020
You've probably heard the phrase 'vinyl is making a comeback' but for some of us it never really went away! While some people (myself amongst them) embraced other formats such as CD, downloads or streaming, vinyl for many has always remained the favourite. The question as to why has a number of different answers.
For some it's the 'ritual' of taking an LP reverently out of its sleeve, examining it, cleaning it and placing the stylus on that beautiful black rotating vinyl and sitting back with the artwork while 'track 1 side 1' starts its journey.... For others it's the deep warmth of the sound emanating from the speakers, and for many of us it evokes a memory of days spent in our youth, meeting friends at the local record shop and browsing the racks for hours to choose what will become the soundtrack to our lives.
Huge numbers of people, young and old, are now (re)discovering the art of 'collecting' vinyl. So, how do you start, or refine, a record collection?
Quite a few customers coming into the shop have different reasons for collecting, but ALL of them have one thing in common, which is the desire to browse the racks. For the purposes of this blog entry, I've addressed the most common types of collector, which can be loosely broken down into the following categories
1 - Starting a collection of your favourite artists
2 - The completist
3 - The genre collection
3 - Rare and first editions
Starting a new collection is probably the easiest to get stuck into. The joy of discovering vinyl and sourcing loads of classic albums is an enviable position to be in. The freedom of grabbing a number of great LP's from some stunning bands need not be expensive either, whether it's from acts like Duran Duran, Meatloaf, Blondie, Bob Marley, or even some of the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Hendrix catalogues - as these albums were manufactured and bought literally in their millions, they are neither rare nor very expensive. You should be able to pick these up from shops like ours for between £5 to £20 depending on condition. It means that for a monthly spend of a few quid, you can quickly build up an amazing collection of classic albums that will bring you loads of pleasure for life!
The 'completist' is potentially the next level of addiction. Whether you can restrain yourself to merely all the albums of a particular artist, or whether you get into the singles (7" and 12"), remixes, imports etc, this is FUN. Tracking down all the releases from a specific artist is a journey through their life and influences. Successful artists change almost imperceptibly from album to album and you can go on that virtual journey with them and start to follow and collect other musicians that have influenced them too. Seminal record labels like Island, Rough Trade, Stiff and Creation are also fun to collect and you will discover some amazing artists you've never even heard of. There's really no end to this......
It can lead to the 'genre' collection, which can start to get messy! There are a number of people who come into the shop looking for Northern Soul, Ska, Punk, Metal, Folk, Madchester, Rave etc as they are such fans of a specific 'scene' they literally want everything. This collection will be expensive, extensive and ultimately impossible to complete! Fun though..
Lastly, we have what I would call the serious collector. These folk are generally knowledgeable and borderline OCD. They often want 50 year old first pressings (first pressings or editions are literally the initial run of LP's off the pressing machine, often manufactured in low quantities) in near perfect condition with immaculate sleeves and original inners. While attaining this level of perfection is not impossible, it is certainly difficult and WILL cost some serious money. Many of them adhere to a vinyl grading system which often means the only records they are happy with are those that are literally 'as new'. If you sell online to these collectors, beware!! Their idea of great condition is likely to be very different to yours and they will ask for their money back if it's not, which can be frustrating. However, if you start collecting in this way and you can find these albums you could get a collection worth a small fortune.
In terms of value - see the next vinyl blog on this site which is all to do with what makes an album valuable and how to discover how much it might be worth.
In the meantime - happy collecting!!!
Author notes: Mark is a veteran of the UK music industry having spent almost 30 years working within it before leaving to open The Beehive. As well as having a hand in the careers of many highly successful bands, he has also worked with some seminal labels and industry figures. Music memorabilia, especially vinyl, is his main area of expertise.