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Old 01-07-2023, 04:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Emerging From the Vinyl Collector Passion

OP Note: I tried publishing this sincere thought piece elsewhere to get a thoughtful response. Most of the feedback was centered around the vinyl format's perceived superiority rather than addressing the existential element and questions I pose at the end of the piece. I appreciate the MB community and hope I might get some valuable insight from our members. Here goes...

I'm finding myself at a curious place of late. I'm 41 years old and actively collected rare vinyl for the past 12 years. I poured substantial sums into building a quality audiophile hi-fi setup and invested heavily in rare, signed, limited edition, super deluxe box sets, and import first-pressings.

But in May of 2022, I began to reevaluate the amount of happiness vinyl collecting was bringing to my life versus the monthly expense of the hobby. Comparatively, my digital library comprises several hundred thousand tracks, including countless demos, b-sides, extended mixes, unofficial live sessions, and non-commercial recordings not available physically at any price. And all of them are meticulously tagged, inventoried, painstakingly catalogued, and enjoyed from my personal media server, which offers an unparalleled convenience over vinyl. Of course a portion of my rarer LPs have never been officially issued in a digital format, but the dedicated audiophile community has worked diligently to provide quality unofficial rips now and again, so it's been ages since I've queued up an actual LP.

I'd been actively blogging about music for those 12 years, which culminated in a book series I'm presently reviewing with potential publishers. Closing that chapter of my life so-to-speak is satisfying and I feel like I've written all that I had to say on the subject.

Every few years I try out the major streaming services, but each time without fail I find they offer nothing that I don’t already have commercial-free from my own server, and they lack hundreds of beloved artists from my personal library so I’ve seen no reason to use their services. I understand that there is a social element to the world of streaming, but they fail to cater to my preferred style of listening and to the content I enjoy. And the notion that material may be modified or withdrawn at the behest of the service provider, vanquishing the content ownership of the user does not sit well with me.

It's almost daunting coming out the other side of this often all-consuming hobby. I don't feel the compulsion to purchase records anymore. Maybe I'll pick up an album here or there in the future, but I no longer seek them out. My want list is dwindling and I find myself searching for other ways to invest my time and energy. After ravenously collecting for all those years I felt that perhaps I needed to sit down and actually *listen* to all these albums for a change. That's what I'm doing presently. (I've experienced strong parallels to this behavior in the book-collecting community!)

There's a feeling of void or absence when one no longer subscribes to their collector culture environment. I've lost interest in all of the record collector social media communities I formerly frequented. I used to spend weeks carefully photographing and sharing my latest crate-digging treasures and the corresponding articles I'd authored. Without that sense of community, I'm left feeling a bit lost and admittedly lonely, not knowing where I "fit" socially without those groups. There's an existential element at play here, as I was committed to that previous identity. Who am I if I am no longer the dedicated collector I was for over a decade?

I'm interested in hearing from others who have found themselves in a similar place. How does it feel? How have you adapted to stay engaged and stimulated musically? And what have you found to replace the social component of this once-beloved hobby? Please share!
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Old 01-07-2023, 09:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I can't really speak to collecting, not seriously. From the time I started my first job - actually no; from the time I started my first part-time job, whle still at school, I wanted to buy records with my wages (well, with what was left over after I gave money to my mam of course) and unlike yourself I just bought what I liked. I'd get into an artist - Springsteen, Seger, ELO - and then buy all their albums. But I did this because, in the late 1970s and early-to-mid 1980s, this was the only medium available. Once CDs became the new thing, the idea of being able to a) store my collection in about 1/100th the space my albums took up and b) being able to play them without having to clean/handle carefully/make sure I didn't tip off the turntable (and no turning over for side two!) became the incentive for me to replace as much of my vinyl collection with CDs.

Even now, I still have my collection of 400-odd LPs, but I haven't played any of them in a good 20 years. I no longer have a turntable. I used to have a setup that included one, plus an amp and speakers and both a CD player and a CD recording deck, and a tape deck at one point, but one fine morning my entire system crashed - literally. The shelf collapsed and I had to run to try to save what I could before it all hit the floor. I never put it back up again, and now, to be honest, I hardly even listen to CDs but just use MP3s. Sound quality was never something I was that meticulous about, and as long as I can listen to the music I like, I really don't care what format it's in. I used to use Spotify but I've been boycotting them since last year and haven't bothered with a new streaming service.

The only advice I could give is - let us in! You write a fantastic journal so why not start enthusing more about your music collection? Not so much that it's first edition or boxed signed sets or whatever, but the actual music and the artists. I'm sure we'd all be fascinated. You could even start a new one, call it, I don't know, Invitation to My Music or something that doesn't sound as crap as that. Everyone here is interested in music, so rather than just let it all sit there and not be appreciated (if you feel that's not happening now) why not share it with us?

Just my small amount of negotiable currency's worth.
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Old 01-08-2023, 07:04 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The only advice I could give is - let us in! You write a fantastic journal so why not start enthusing more about your music collection?...Everyone here is interested in music, so rather than just let it all sit there and not be appreciated (if you feel that's not happening now) why not share it with us?
Thank you, TH! I like your ideas!

I mentioned in the OP that I'm making the effort to actively engage my collection for a change after years of ravenously collecting. If I discover something buried in my library which stirs my soul I'll consider penning an entry to share my joy. That's a potential gateway to the social element I seek, though I seldom received responses to the entries I formerly shared before closing the book project. But once in a while someone would chime in and that always felt good.
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Old 01-08-2023, 08:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Just a quick comment about streaming services. The right one for you may be youtube music for a couple of reasons. One, you can upload stuff from your collection to it and fill out those missing holes. Two, you get it with youtube premium and if you're like me and abhor getting bombarded with ads on YouTube, you may want to get premium anyways.

As for collecting, it is a bit strange how it becomes a hobby in its own right. Like you, I had a very curated and meticulously tagged digital collection. The maintenance of it was its own fun, but in hindsight, it didn't leave me with much besides satisfaction in the moment. It's a bit like being hooked on World of Warcraft
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Old 01-08-2023, 08:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Just a quick comment about streaming services. The right one for you may be youtube music for a couple of reasons. ... As for collecting, ... The maintenance of it was its own fun, but in hindsight, it didn't leave me with much besides satisfaction in the moment. It's a bit like being hooked on World of Warcraft
Thanks for your input! That's interesting that you suggest YouTube Music Premium.

Several primary drives have wed me to my personal media server all these years. Namely, the server is advert-free, has thousands of hours of content not available on commercial services, and permits me to queue it as a background process from any web-enabled device. And if I proactively pre-buffer a few hundred hours of content at a time the way I usually do each week, I'm gold to listen all day even without a network connection.

And perhaps the most significant factor is that of my favorite genre - long-form ambient and drone music. Many of the songs I listen to are in excess of an hour or even eight hours in length. That motivated me to move away from vinyl which would require my getting up to repeatedly flip a 20-minute side of an LP, ruining the bliss of meditating or even sleeping to a night-long dreamscape session. I wonder how well YouTube Music Premium would handle my hundreds of carefully curated playlists which are each thousands of hours long. Would I have to manually reconstruct all those playlists after uploading all the missing content to YouTube? Also importantly - would YouTube Music Premium preserve and maintain my lossless archival FLAC or would it compress the audio to 320CBR, v0 or lower? And how would it interpret and retain all the ID3 data I've worked so hard to uniformly structure and tag?

I'd be curious how YouTube Music Premium stands against those factors, and in particular what features it offers above and beyond the glory of the personal server setup I already have to warrant all the labor of uploading and tagging tens of thousands of tracks missing from the service. And would those uploads be privately my own, or would I be handing them over to the masses?

You're right about the curious nature of collecting. I thrived on experiencing the art of flow every time I sat down and started writing or cataloguing. It was a thrilling endeavor.

Thanks again!
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You are quite simply one of the most unique individuals I've ever met in my 763+ months living on this orb.
Quote:
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You are to all of us what Betelgeuse is to the sun in terms of musical diversity.
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You sir are a true character. I love it.
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You, sir, are a nerd's nerd.
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Just chiming in to declare that your posts are a source of life and wholesomeness
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Old 01-08-2023, 09:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I don't feel the compulsion to purchase records anymore. Maybe I'll pick up an album here or there in the future, but I no longer seek them out. My want list is dwindling and I find myself searching for other ways to invest my time and energy. After ravenously collecting for all those years I felt that perhaps I needed to sit down and actually *listen* to all these albums for a change. That's what I'm doing presently.
^ That's where I am at present with my record collecting. I still buy records but probably no more than 15 to 20 a year now. And I recently had a similar discussion with a friend who also collects records. He mentioned that somewhere along the line while he was looking for records and buying them and adding them to his collection, he forgot to actually spend some time listening to his records. I had to laugh because, as a record collector, I can relate only too well to his situation.
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Old 01-08-2023, 09:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I had a look at YouTube Premium but for what it offered it was the most expensive of the streaming services, so I wasn't interested.
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Old 01-08-2023, 10:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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It depends what you use YouTube for. If it's for strictly music I'd agree, but if you like watching movies or some of those MsMojo tidbits for example, it's actually worth getting Premium to beat the ad interruptions.
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Old 01-11-2023, 12:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I couldn't not be a youtube premium subscriber because we use youtube a lot and I can't stand youtube freemium. How do people stand those ads? It's gross and vulgar. Like.. You accept being interrupted in the middle of something because they wanna manipulate you into buying stuff? Yuck.

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Also importantly - would YouTube Music Premium preserve and maintain my lossless archival FLAC or would it compress the audio to 320CBR, v0 or lower? And how would it interpret and retain all the ID3 data I've worked so hard to uniformly structure and tag?
I don't actually know because I've been using the service for many years. I jumped on board google play music shortly after that launched in 2011 and got kinda converted over into youtube music later on.

Because I make music, I upload my own unfinished songs to the service, but I don't think too much about quality because I'm usually at the mixing stage and not listening for compression artifacts and the like anyways.

My guess is they convert flacs to 320 mp3s, but I don't actually know. I also think serious consumers of digital files should subject themselves to some proper blind testing to get an idea of the extent to which mp3s deteriorate their listening experience.
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Old 01-16-2023, 11:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Vinyl records are for hipsters. Angry hipsters can quote me and reply to my comments below. Thank you.
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