Do you own a turntable? Some of you may laugh at this questions, but some subset of you are nodding enthusiastically or waving some part of yourself in the air in the affirmative. That’s because records are back in a big way. At a time when the music industry is struggling with the shrinking demand for physical media, the sales of vinyl are actually growing and record stores are devoting more and more space to vinyl.
A few years ago, I received a brand new turntable for my birthday (best. gift. ever.) and it completely and literally transformed my relationship with music listening overnight. Like so many people nowadays, I have an embarrassingly large quantity of gigabytes of digital music (216 Gigabytes at last count) and had, in recent years, been suffering from a kind of “ennui of infinite selection.” I resorted to building smart playlists in iTunes to avoid having to choose something to listen to – a complete shuffle was too unpredictable, scrolling through everything; too impractical. I honestly spent more time trying to figure out what I wanted to listen to than actually listening to music.
Then I got a new turntable (did I mention it was the best gift ever?). I did have a (barely) functional turntable before that, and a couple of records, but it was both unreliable and a fire hazard, so getting a brand new one was a different story. As part of the gift, I was taken shopping at a few local record stores (Seattle is an amazing city for vinyl shopping) and picked up some albums. Then I brought them home and magically, I knew what I wanted to listen to. The act of going out and hunting for records returned that sense of wonder and excitement that made me a music fan in the first place, and when I returned home with really good stuff, that’s what I wanted to put on.
Since then, I’ve bought quite a bit of vinyl (mostly used, with occasional new ones) and most of my daily listening is from records. It feels great to pull a record out of the crate, put it on, listen to the whole thing and then pick something else. It has returned a sense of intentionality to my listening and to my home musical environment that was missing from the smart playlists, the Genius mixes, the super shuffle. I do still enjoy those things, and I have a ton of music on my harddrive (soon to be cloud drive, I’m sure) that I don’t have access to in other formats, but I find myself reaching for records first.
If you don’t have a turntable anymore/yet, I highly recommend picking one up. Used vinyl is fairly inexpensive, sounds great and is plentiful.
This Saturday, April 16 is Record Store Day – a day where you can go get great deals at your local shops and pick up tons of exclusive goodies. This year, I’m hoping to pick up the new Beastie Boys single, a Bad Brains 7″ and a Kate Bush 10″ EP. I’ll also be picking up some used treasures, really whatever I can find in the bins. Many stores have performances and other special events planned as well. It’s a lot of fun and maybe a nice way to shake off the Tax Day ick.
This year, I am also working on pressing a record for the first time. I wish I could say that the Zubatto Syndicate double vinyl will be finished for Record Store Day, but it will take a little longer. It’s been fun to explore all of the options and the whole process of pressing vinyl, but also daunting. The masters were just sent of for lacquering and I’ve identified a pressing plant, so things are moving along. I can’t wait to spin it on my own turntable and for you to spin it on yours.
To celebrate Record Store Day, I’m offering 25% off pre-orders for the vinyl double LP through Sunday. If you’re a vinyl fan, I think it’s going to sound and look great and it will be a limited edition of 500 (cool AND rare). Also, every pre-order dollar is going to cover costs for pressing and artwork, so you’re helping the cause. To get your discount, head to music.zubattosyndicate.com and use the promo code “rsd2011″ when prompted. Records should ship in early June.
Maybe I’ll see you rifling through the bins on Saturday!