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4 Benefits of Owning a Record Player

4 Benefits of Owning a Record PlayerWhen CD players were just released, many people couldn’t wait to get their hands on them.

After all, the only alternative to record players at that time were tapes. With CDs came many conveniences (such as the ability to easily pause and skip tracks) that weren’t available to music consumers before.

And some people still feel that way, which is why they continue to go in the direction of convenience – digital downloads, streaming sites, and so on.

But others remember records fondly. And still others have woken up to the advantages of vinyl records over other mediums.

Here are four benefits to owning a record player.

The Album Artwork

Vinyl records come in large sleeves that prominently feature the album artwork, liner notes, and other information pertinent to the release. Tapes and CDs are considerably smaller, and come in smaller cases that limit their ability to highlight the visual appeal of the music in the same way.

It’s one thing to display your CD collection on your shelves – but records have more of a presence.

The Experience

Records have a nostalgic warmth to them with their crackles and pops.

And while music is often used as background noise at the mall and in various forms of media, few people just listen anymore. In today’s fast-paced world, records can offer a bit of a refuge from the hustle and bustle of work and life, and other electronic devices that are designed to steal away our attention.

The Audio Quality

The audio quality of vinyl records is still a much-discussed topic. Is analog better, or is digital better? Do records provide a better listening experience, or do CDs?

These debates may go on forever without any resolution. The point is that records do offer a different listening experience compared to tapes, CDs, or digital files.

Audiophiles and purists will certainly appreciate how records sound compared to other mediums.

More Balance

Records require you to become an active listener. While you can do some simple tasks while you’re listening to a record, many people find that putting on a record is like committing to the art for the next 30 to 45 minutes of their life.

And that could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you ask. Some people want to be able to put music on in the background and get on with whatever it is they’re doing. But others have realized the importance of slowing down and just appreciating the moment.

Records bring you closer to the music and the artist. It offers a way for you to engage in the art while enjoying the simplicity of the act of listening.

Conclusion

Some may also cite nostalgia as a reason to own a record. But for many millennials, that’s not a compelling proposition at all. For them, it might be more a matter of being on the cutting-edge of trends, like a hipster.

But whatever your reasons for owning a record player, it can give you a way to engross yourself in the art and practice enjoying the moment instead of rushing around all the time.

3 Tips For Selling Your Vinyl Records

3 Tips For Selling Your Vinyl RecordsOne of the fun parts about collecting records is that they tend to retain their value.

And while you may want to hang onto your favorite records – especially those with sentimental value –  there may also be those you don’t mind parting with. It could mean giving others the chance to obtain an album they’ve always wanted.

As with anything else you might be interested in selling, you could list your old records on eBay or a classified site to generate interest. And that’s fine if you don’t care about how much money you get for them.

But if you want to get what your records are worth, it’s going to take a little more effort.

Here are three tips for selling your vinyl records.

Find Out How Much Your Records Are Worth

This may involve a bit of research. You can refer to references books, take advantage of a site like popsike.com, or talk to the people at your local record shop to find out how they would value your old vinyl.

You can also have a look at how the market is valuing certain records by looking at Amazon, eBay, or other sites where records are sold.

But there is a chance you’ll be able to get more for your records than you think, so take some time to do your research before rushing into the sale.

Offer A Thorough Description Of Your Goods

If you’re planning to sell your record online, it’s not enough to list the product and wait for it to sell. If it’s never been opened before, that’s one thing, but quite another if it’s been a part of your collection for any length of time.

For one, you need to provide pictures of your records from several angles. This will help buyers as they consider whether they want to pick up your vinyl or not.

For another, records should also be rated – this is based on the quality of the sleeve as well as the record itself. A simple bad, poor, fair, and good quality rating is often enough.

Finally, you should also create an honest and thorough product description, making note of any flaws or blemishes the product may have.

Consider How Much Time You’re Willing To Spend Selling Your Records

Records can be sold individually, or within a collection. In most cases, you’re probably going to get more money for them if you sell them piece by piece.

But you must think about how much time and effort you’re willing to put into selling every record. You’ll need to research each album, price it out, take pictures of it, write up a description for it, and create a listing on an auction site like eBaby (or in some cases many sites).

If you have nothing but popular music in your collection, it’s safe to assume it isn’t worth much (because everyone has it), with the possible exception of old Elvis Presley or The Beatles records. In a case like that, you don’t have to put as much time into your research, nor would you be required to sell your collection one by one.

How to Clean & Maintain Your Vinyl Records

How to Clean & Maintain Your Vinyl RecordsIn a time when virtually all media is going digital, vinyl records offer a bit of comfort. A record is something you can hold in your own hand, and experience in a tangible way.

But physical media, unlike digital media, requires some upkeep. Records sometimes need to be cleaned as dust and grime begin to accumulate. Static electricity can also impact the sound of a record.

But if you’re starting to have some second guesses about your vinyl hobby, don’t worry – cleaning them isn’t all that difficult.

There are a couple of different ways you can go about this process. Let’s start by taking a look at the manual process.

How to Clean Your Records Manually

Though not difficult, cleaning your records by hand can be time-consuming. But if you make it a part of your regular routine, it can be relaxing and even meditative.

There are only two things you’ll need to clean your records – record cleaning fluid, and a clean cloth. Cleaning fluid is available at most record stores, though you can even make your own, assuming you have distilled water, isopropyl alcohol, and rinse agent.

But don’t go crazy with the cleaning just yet. Remember that vinyl records can be quite sensitive, and if you’re too harsh with the cleaning process, you could end up wrecking your favorite albums.

After applying the fluid to the record, use a microfiber towel to wipe down your record. Wipe counter-clockwise to get into the grooves, but again, be gentle.

When you’re done cleaning the record, set it down on a microfiber cloth to dry.

How to Clean Your Records with a Record Cleaning Machine

If you can’t imagine going through the process of cleaning all of your records one by one, or if you’re worried about damaging them in the process, there is a viable alternative.

Record cleaning machines can save you a lot of time, and they also tend to be more effective – they can clean records better than just about anybody can.

But record cleaners can be quite expensive. Unless you know what you’re looking for, you might end up paying way too much for a machine that isn’t half as good as its price might suggest.

VPI is one of the most respected names in record hardware, and is always a dependable choice. Their devices will cost you a pretty penny though.

Generally speaking, if you check online reviews and see what others have had to say about the device you’re interested in buying, you should be well-informed. Fortunately, there are also some cheaper devices that work pretty well – just remember to do your research.

Final Thoughts

Starting a vinyl collection isn’t all fun and games. But things are getting more convenient by the day, even with physical media. If you buy a record cleaner, you’ll never have to clean your records yourself, and it should last you for a long time to come.

Just remember to have fun with it. The vinyl listening experience is unique, and something you simply won’t be able to duplicate with MP3s or streaming.

When is the Right Time to Release a Vinyl Record as a Musician?

When is the Right Time to Release a Vinyl Record as a Musician?From 2004 onwards, vinyl records have been making a bit of a return, and the market continues to grow.

Does this mean that every musician should have their music on vinyl, independent or otherwise? Would it be a good idea to start putting money towards the development of records instead of CDs?

If you’re thinking about releasing your music on vinyl, here are some important factors to consider.

Do You Have a Large, Loyal Following?

When we say “large”, we don’t necessarily mean tens of thousands of people. But do you have at least 1,000 to 2,000 fans regularly connecting with you, and are they willing to buy anything you put out? If not, then this might not be the right time to release your music on vinyl.

Why? Because your record will not sell if you don’t put in the time and effort required to promote it. This goes for any release you put out, in any format, but vinyl isn’t going to make things any easier.  As an independent artist, very few people know about you, and unless you have a fan base to build off of, you have nothing.

You need to understand that:

  • Only a percentage of your fans listen to music on vinyl and will buy your music in that format. And only some will be persuaded to convert.
  • If you pay to have too many records manufactured, you will lose money on your excess inventory.

Do You Have Great Music that People Love?

Your first vinyl release should be limited to the very best you have to offer. Keeping in mind that 18 to 22 minutes of music per side is ideal (the sound quality will begin to degrade after that point), you don’t necessarily need a ton of music to fill an LP.

But you do have to pay careful attention to track sequencing and flow. It doesn’t make sense to release your music on wax if you can’t create a cohesive album experience.

So compile your “greatest hits”, and if you need to cut anything out, cut it. If you need a piece of music to fill that spare two minutes and 10 seconds, write it.

Do You Have a Budget?

Getting your music pressed on wax can be costly, and manufacturing times can also be lengthy. If you’re expecting to release your music on all formats on the same day, you’re probably going to have to delay the release date, potentially by several months. You’ll have your CDs and/or your digital files ready well in advance of the records.

Also keep in mind that you may want to get a separate mastering job done on your record version, and this could run you several hundred dollars, if not $1,000 or more. Listening to music on a turntable and a proper speaker system is considerably different than listening to music with your earbuds in, and you want to make sure your release sounds right for both mediums.

Conclusion

Above all else, you need to be able to move units. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with boxes full of vinyl in your garage or basement, and that’s a sorry state of affairs.

How to Find a Quality Turntable to Play Your Favorite Vinyl Records

How to Find a Quality Turntable to Play Your Favorite Vinyl RecordsSo you’ve decided that vinyl records are for you.

Great, but if you want to have the best listening experience possible, you can’t just buy any old turntable and expect it to deliver quality results. You need to invest in gear that’s going to help maximize the enjoyment of your music (and that goes for preamps and speakers too, not just the turntable). After all, you’re going to pay a lot more for a record than for a digital download.

Here are some tips on how to find a quality turntable to play your vinyl records on.

Look at the Price

Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s good. But if you know what you’re looking for, you’re almost always going to get a better piece of equipment for more money rather than less. Be prepared to spend more if you’re looking to get more enjoyment out of your records.

Here’s a basic breakdown of price range and the quality of turntable you can expect to get:

  • $500 or less: you can get a basic, decent quality turntable for $500 or less. You’ll have the choice between an automatic and manual player, though purists prefer manual. If your speakers do not have a turntable input, you’re going to have to consider alternative solutions, such as a USB turntable, or one with a built-in phono preamp.
  • $500 to $1,000: it’s safe to say you will get a better turntable in the $500 to $1,000 range than you would for less, as they typically have better construction and quality parts.
  • $1,000 or more: the best quality turntables cost $1,000 or more, and offer the best sound quality. Basically, they reduce vibrations to eliminate unwelcome resonance.

Look at the Specs

A record player’s specs don’t necessarily have anything to do with its overall sound quality. But they can still provide a worthwhile reference point for what to look for.

Here are a few items to watch for, and what they mean:

  • Speed variation: for optimal sound, you want your record to turn at a consistent speed. Wow and flutter or speed variation tells you how accurate your record player is. The lower the number, the better the record player. In an ideal world, it would be less than 0.25%.
  • S/N ratio: also known as signal-to-noise ratio, this spec tells you how much background noise you can expect on any given turntable. You would think that the lower the number, the better, but it’s actually the opposite. You want the music to overpower noise. So 65dB or above would be a good number to look for.
  • Playback speeds: this refers to the rotation speed for the record. In most cases, the spec will be 33-1/3 and 45 RPM. But if you’re looking to play 78 RPM records, new turntables typically can’t handle that speed, so you’ll need to look for a different player.

Look at the Reviews

Finally, there are plenty of people out there that have done their homework and have experimented enough to know what’s good and what isn’t. Whether it’s blog posts or reviews on Amazon, you can find plenty of information on what to look for in a turntable.

Throwing a Vinyl Listening Party You Won’t Soon Forget

Throwing a Vinyl Listening Party You Won’t Soon ForgetHave you ever heard of album listening parties? It’s where you gather together with friends to listen to a new music release.

In an increasingly connected world, you don’t hear about these types of parties as much anymore. Anyone can open up their favorite streaming app and start listening to the latest album by their favorite artist without ever leaving the comfort of their own home.

But there is something to be said for the shared experience of listening to an album for the first time with your friends.

And when it comes to listening parties, there is no better medium to use than vinyl. So here are some tips on how to host a vinyl listening party you won’t soon forget.

Decide How It’s Going to Work

Set the ground rules beforehand. For example, if there are a specific number of songs you want to listen to at the party (i.e. side A of the record), decide on the playlist in advance. If no one should talk while listening, let everyone know. If you want it to be the first time everyone in attendance has listened to a particular album then give them a head’s up that they shouldn’t listen to that release until the day of the party.

It’s your party, so you can decide on what you want to do. It might seem anti-party to make rules, but having a basic structure can heighten the listening experience.

Check Your Gear

Is your turntable working? How about your speakers? Is the record ready to go? Nothing will put an end to your party sooner than faulty gear. If you can’t get your setup to work, you could always opt to stream the album instead, but that’s not going to be quite as special.

Invite Your Friends

Choose who you want to invite. Some people will enjoy the music and the experience. Others may not. It’s nice to have a diverse perspective, from music buffs and musicians all the way over to casual fans and hobbyists.

Again, this is your party. You don’t have to invite anyone that you don’t want to. Also see the previous section on “Decide How It’s Going to Work.” If you don’t want people criticizing the music, that’s your choice. Let them know.

Have a Conversation

Is any vinyl listening party complete without a discussion following the listening of the album? Well, that’s for you to decide, but oftentimes this is the best part.

You can analyze the music, the gear that was used, as well as the musicians that contributed, the lyrics, the meaning of the songs, and so on. If you don’t want it to escalate into a heated debate, then decide on what topics to talk about in advance. You might say something like, “let’s talk about the technical aspects of the music as opposed to whether or not you liked it.”

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, a party is all about having fun. So be creative, and come up with some ideas. Incorporate food and drinks, or perhaps some games. You could even discuss trivia connected to the music or the band. Make it fun, and make it participatory.

Why Would I Want To Start A Vinyl Record Collection?

Why Would I Want To Start A Vinyl Record Collection?It has never been easier to find and listen to the music you love, especially online.

Music streaming sites like Spotify and Deezer abound, and you can even find a lot of music on video sharing sites like YouTube.

So even though vinyl records have been making a bit of a comeback, you might be wondering why you would even want to start a collection of your own.

If you’re on the fence, here are several reasons you might enjoy vinyl.

Because Of The Experience

You can hold a record, but you can’t hold a digital file. Records are substantial in size, and this means liner notes can be more extensive, and album art can be more detailed. This is one of the elements many people appreciate about records.

The analog listening experience is also a little different than its digital counterpart, though if you’re a casual listener, you probably won’t notice it or appreciate it quite as much.

And sometimes, depending on the mastering of the album, listening to a record isn’t that much different than listening to a CD. Moreover, you need a good quality turntable for that difference to be noticeable.

But if you want to enjoy your favorite albums in a special way, records can certainly offer that opportunity.

Because Vinyl Tends To Hold Its Value

Records can retain their value, and sometimes even appreciate in value in the secondary market. By contrast, you can’t sell digital files, and CDs tend to hold no value whatsoever over the long term.

A record collection can be worth something. You should not view collecting records as a way to make money or a way to get rich, but it’s nice to know that you can sell or trade for other records if you need to or want to.

Because It’s Fun!

Some people like to go fishing. Others like to play sports. Still others enjoy shuffleboard. To each his own, right?

In the same way, collecting records could be your thing. It gives you something to do, something to look forward to, and something to search for when you’re out and about.

There’s nothing wrong with hitting “shuffle” on your iPod and letting your device choose the next track for you. But listening to a record requires more attention and commitment. Once it’s on, it’s on, and you’re there to listen.

You get to appreciate the sequencing of the music, the specific way in which it was ordered and organized by the artist, producer, or both. This can be a pretty amazing experience when you’re listening to a well-crafted album.

Final Thoughts

Is collecting records for everyone? Absolutely not.

There are many different ways to enjoy music, though purists often insist that the vinyl experience is hard to match, even in spite of the “pops” and crackles.

If you really enjoy music, and you like listening to entire albums to experience a particular artist’s creative process and artistic vision, then collecting and listening to vinyl would likely appeal to you. Those who have a deeper appreciation of music often find value in vinyl.

5 Vinyl Records Every Collector Should Own

5 Vinyl Records Every Collector Should OwnDo you consider yourself a record collector?

Whether you’re just getting started, or you’ve been at it for years, you might be looking for a few recommendations. If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Everyone has different tastes, so you may not like all of the albums featured here, but they are still worth a look. Here are five records every collector should consider picking up (if you don’t have them already).

1. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

A truly unique release in its time, the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique was released on July 25, 1989 as a follow-up to their first album, Licensed to Ill from 1986.

The Dust Brothers-produced Boutique was comprised almost entirely of a patchwork of samples, excluding, of course, the vocals.

The record was initially considered a failure, but the album grew in popularity over time, and was eventually recognized as an important, groundbreaking hip hop release.

2. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

From start to finish, David Bowie’s fifth studio release is chock-full of well-known classics like “Moonage Daydream”, “Starman”, the eponymous “Ziggy Stardust”, and “Suffragette City.”

A lot has been said about concept albums, but your collection isn’t complete unless you have The Rise and Fall… which tells the story of the fictional alien character Ziggy Stardust. Vague though the story may be, the music makes up for it.

This is a glam rock classic.

3. Paul Simon – Graceland

After a series of setbacks and low points in his career, Paul Simon unleashed Graceland upon the world on August 25, 1986.

The music itself is eclectic and diverse, incorporating elements of South African and Zulu-Western pop music.

From start to finish, there are no filler tracks on the album. From the popular singles like “You Can Call Me Al” and “The Boy in the Bubble” to the less acknowledged “I Know What I Know” and “Homeless”, the entire record is timeless.

4. Prince – Purple Rain

Prince’s Purple Rain is one of the best-selling soundtrack albums of all time.

Originally released in 1984, it features classics like “When Doves Cry”, “Purple Rain”, and “I Would Die 4 U”.

Prince has released a lot of great music over the years, but you would be hard-pressed to find an album that’s more Prince, and even features some of his most epic guitar playing. And by the way, Prince was a killer guitarist.

This record deserves a place on your shelf.

5. Michael Jackson – Thriller

Michael Jackson’s Thriller stands as one of the best albums from the 80s, and features classics like “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, and “Thriller.”

Jackson recorded 30 songs with Quincy Jones, which they eventually whittled down to the best nine for this album. No wonder it’s so good.

Oh, and there’s also the fact that it’s one of the greatest selling records of all time. Popularity isn’t everything, but in this case, the masses aren’t wrong.

Final Thoughts

Fortunately, none of the records mentioned here are terribly expensive, so adding them to your collection shouldn’t be a costly proposition.

But if you’d like to add a bit of diversity to your catalog, the above records should give you plenty to explore.

5 of The Rarest & Most Expensive Vinyl Records

5 of The Rarest & Most Expensive Vinyl RecordsVinyl records are a popular collector’s item, and ever since 2004, they’ve been going through a bit of resurgence.

It shouldn’t, then, come as any surprise that some are worth more than others due to their controversial nature, rarity, historical significance, or unique promotional strategies that went along with them.

Some, records, in fact, are thought to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars today (you’ll find at least one example below).

Here are five examples of the rarest and most expensive vinyl records you can find.

1. Billy Nicholls – Would You Believe

Nicholls was originally hired on as a staff writer for Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records.

Oldham, as it turns out, was a big fan of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, originally released in 1966.

Songwriter Billy Nicholls was enlisted to record a “British response” to Pet Sounds, which resulted in this hapless album, now largely forgotten.

Immediate Records experienced some financial difficulties, and the album had to be shelved. Its value? Roughly $4,000 to $4,600 US.

2. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody/I’m In Love With My Car

The 1978 seven-inch EMI special edition single included an invite to a company event, and a lot of other goodies too: matches, pen, ticket, menu, outer card sleeve, a scarf and EMI goblets in a card box.

It’s estimated value is roughly $7,000.

3. Leaf Hound – Growers Of Mushroom

British hard rock band Leaf Hound’s (formerly Black Cat Bones) debut album is worth anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000, and apparently it only took 11 hours to record.

Leaf Hound may not be well-known, but their record commands a hefty sum – you might say they did okay. Some of the band’s early members, incidentally, either went on to form or be a part of bands like Free and Foghat.

4. Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen/No Feelings

The controversial “God Save The Queen/No Feelings” single is worth as much as $16,000 to $17,000, though it has gone for as much as $20,000 on eBay.

The 1977 Sex Pistols release was actually withdrawn from sale, and there are only about 300 copies in existence. The record is worth even more if you happen to have the original brown envelope and press release that it came with.

5. The Quarrymen – That’ll Be The Day/In Spite Of All The Danger

Before The Beatles came The Quarrymen.

The Beatles’ “first recording”, “That’ll Be The Day” featured McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, drummer Colin Hanton and John Duff Lowe on the piano.

The original 1958 copy is said to be worth anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000, and even its 1981 reproduction is worth $15,600.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of other The Beatles records that are among the rarest and most expensive records ever created: “Love ME Do/PS I Love You”, “Please Please Me”, “White Album” double LP, and John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s “Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins.”

Final Thoughts

The above is just a sampling of some of the most notorious records.

There are also records by John’s Children, Tinkerbells Fairydust, David Bowie (his records could be worth more now for obvious reasons), Ron Hargrave, The Bread And Beer Band, Dark, The Rolling Stones, and even Madonna, that command top dollar.

4 Reasons Vinyl Records Are Growing in Popularity Again

4 Reasons Vinyl Records Are Growing in Popularity AgainSome love them, and some don’t, but it’s hard to deny the growing interest in vinyl records.

They have been trending upwards for the last 10 years, give or take, and you won’t find another physical format of music with this music staying power.

Here are four reasons vinyl records are growing in popularity again.

1. Sound Quality

It depends on who you ask, but arguably, the sound quality of vinyl is much better than CDs and MP3s. At the very least, they have a warm, natural sound that you simply can’t duplicate with digital media.

In an age where audio mastering favors highly compressed, loud mixes, vinyl still allows for a great deal of dynamic variation, meaning a song preservers much of its natural ups and downs that you won’t hear on a compact disc.

But it is necessary to invest in a quality record player (the needle is the most important component) if you really want to enjoy records as they were meant to be heard. You can’t buy an inexpensive player and hope to experience the rich tones of analog media.

2. Selection

Even if not for the many modern releases that have also come out on the vinyl format, vinyl records have a much longer history than CDs, MP3s, or music streaming.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t find your favorite releases on newer formats. But some of the older releases are going to be harder to come by on modern stores, apps or devices.

Records also have physical value, as evidenced by the existence of record collectors. Additionally, when DJs invest in records, they spend good money on them.

3. Album Art & Liner Notes

This is perhaps one of the biggest advantages of vinyl records – they come in large cardboard sleeves that allow for more elaborate and detailed album art and liner notes.

This will become pretty clear if you do a side-by-side comparison with a CD, MP3 player, tablet, or smartphone. Modern devices are constricted by their physical size, and don’t have the ability to display anything larger than their screen size.

Vinyl records often contain other bonuses – such as posters, ads, or liner notes and lyrics – that you simply won’t find packaged with a CD.

4. Experience

It has been hinted at already, but records are generally considered “collectables”, are kind of “cool” to have, and are fun to use too. CDs are similar in that they are round objects that spin, but the motion was obscured from plain view. By contrast, you can watch as a record rotates, and enjoy the warm sound coming from it.

Listening to a record is a commitment. Digital media can be started, stopped, or skipped at will, but once you’ve put a record on, you’re obligated to finish a side.

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of reasons vinyl records are growing in popularity again. Every collector has their own thoughts.

But the sound quality, the selection, the album art and liner notes, as well as the overall experience definitely plays a part.

Are you a fan of the vinyl medium?