Everyone has that friend that got really into collecting vinyl records starting around senior year of high school, lasting through about the beginning of junior year of college (if you didn’t, maybe it was you). Maybe even going beyond that in a rare case. That person (or you) always had the best arguments supporting this new obsession - “oh this is how music was meant to be listened to,” “it just sounds so much better on vinyl,” “if you play it backwards you can hear satanic incantations.” The works. I’m here to draw a line in the sand, and say that it’s all bullshit.
Now let me begin by admitting that I, too, was swept up in this vinyl music craze of the late 2000s and early 2010s. I acquired my dad’s old The Who and The Doors records, my mom’s Beatles albums (almost a complete set), and a few of my uncle’s Grateful Dead records. I have the newly-pressed Wilcos, the fancy multicolor Minus the Bears, and even Dr. Dre’s the Chronic. I was no stranger to scouring beat record stores in search of that rare gem (finally found it too - vinyl press of the Thunderball soundtrack - beautiful artwork). All it took was a little hunting, a little time, and a little money, or so I told myself.
But now, here I sit, a little older, a little wiser, a lot rounder, and what am I doing? How am I listening to music these days? I can sure as shit tell you that it’s not “the way music is meant to be heard.” That’s right, I consume my music like a vast majority of the rest of the population. Digital Streaming, baby. 100% pure, unfiltered, digital streaming. Spotify (personal fav), Pandora, Apple Music, Soundcloud, you name it, I’ve got it. But what about vinyl? What about all that money and time and effort I poured into finding “that one record?”
I, like many, if not all, of you, am a slave to convenience. I love it. Anything to make my life a little easier. Doesn’t matter what it is. And that attitude applies to music consumption, as well. I can’t tell you the last time I touched my records. I don’t even know where they all are. I moved to Chicago a few years ago, and left all my records at my parents’ house. I didn’t even take them with me when I moved out of their house for college, and that’s coming up on 8 years ago. Why, you ask? Because records are a pain in the ass. Plain and simple. They just suck. They suck to use, they suck to maintain, and they suck to pay for.
Records are persnickety, and that’s putting it lightly. One major scratch, and you’re done. Finished. Good thing it was only $30, right? They can shatter on a whim, you need all these different supplies to make sure they don’t get scratched, ugh. No thanks. You know why digital rocks? Because it’s easy. It works. No more of this fussing around putting records on the turntable (also expensive) or having to carefully arrange your records to ensure no harm is done to them. I have all the music I want on my phone and computer, all at the press of a button. It’s that easy. Bonus: you’re telling me I can sync my devices and have my music play through multiple rooms of the house all within the power of my fingertips? What is this ill devilry? Where do I sign?
Now I am not advocating not supporting your local artists. Not at all; buy their tapes/CDs/Merch whatever you want. Hell, buy their records for christ’s sake. We all know that supporting your local artists is a good thing. People like Taylor Swift and Kanye don’t need your support, they’ll be just fine (looking at you, Tidal). But, what I am saying, is that I can guarantee, that if you go out and buy records, you won’t be listening to them in the future. They’ll be sitting in your spare room, gathering dust, waiting for you to pitch them out at the next garage sale for $3 per or $10 for 4. Digital music sounds just fine, and it’s so much easier. Save yourself some time and a little coin, and just go streaming. For all our sakes.