Your record collection is a beautiful thing. It can give people a glimpse through the looking glass to who you really are as a person. No two collections are exactly the same, and you can build it to be whatever your heart desires. However, record collecting (up until recently) was predominantly a hobby for middle aged men. This means that we’re often informed our collections are terrible if they don’t contain classic rock or whatever they’ve deemed to be ~good music~. But the times they are a-changin’! It’s time to build our own collections however we want, and to feel good doing it. We are young…and honestly, nearly all classic rock albums sound identical anyway. So go forth and build a boyband-only collection to be reckoned with. Stick it to the man. I’m here to give you some judgement-free tips to building your perfect collection.
Ignore anyone telling you that you “need” certain records as the base of your collection. You don’t “need” to own every Beatles record, or at least one Stones record, or to not value colour vinyl over standard pressings, or ANYTHING ELSE. You own what you want. Your collection, your money, your choices. If anyone tries to tell you that there are records you “need” to be a collector, tell them to get bent.
Make a list of your 10 favourite albums. This doesn’t need to be set in stone (I’m not going to quiz you to confirm they are indeed the Top 10 Of All Time), but just whatever 10 you love right now. Now start taking a look around online to see which ones are easy to find and which ones are super rare. Some may have never even been pressed onto vinyl. If the records are rare or hard to find, add them to your White Whale List. This list is going to keep you up at night as you spend your days searching, hoping to someday come across a decently-priced copy of this LP. It’s gonna grow as you keep collecting, but hang tough. The other list of easier to find records will keep you going. Here are some of the best sites to creep through:
– Urban Outfitters (good for exclusive pressings)
– I have my own vinyl store now, so you can find some fun pressings at Camp Unlost!
While you’re online, start doing some turntable research as well (if you aren’t planning on using your records as collection pieces only, which is also totally okay). I currently have a Crosley Cruiser, which has casually labeled me as Satan in the record community. I plan on testing out other turntables eventually, but I have other expenses to cover before I worry about making sure the internet is more comfortable with my setup. If you’re in the market, here are a couple I’m in love with right now:
– TRNTBL (From the lovely people that brought us VNYL, it connects to your Spotify and shows people what you’re spinning. The future is NOW. Speakers are separate.)
– Audio Technica LP60 (A good first turntable. It’s not known for damaging records and has amazing sound quality from what I’ve heard. Speakers are separate.)
– U-Turn Orbit (I’ve been lusting after this on IG for FOREVER. Aesthetically pleasing, decently priced, and sounds like a dream. Speakers are separate.)
Grab a friend and head out hunting! It’s more fun going together to compare records and point out hidden gems, but be sure to give each other space so you don’t feel like you’re being rushed or judged. Flea markets can have some great finds if you know what you’re looking for (and you’re okay with that damp “I’ve spent 40 years in a basement” smell that used vinyl carries forever). Retail stores like HMV & Urban Outfitters carry exclusively new vinyl but have tons of cool store-exclusive colour pressings. Local record shops normally carry a mix of new & old and are my favourite place to shop. Prices are decent and you won’t find a better place to discuss music. My favourite shop in Toronto is Sonic Boom for their upper level full of pins/patches/home decor and their lower level absolutely RAMMED full of records and denim jackets. It’s my Brand all in one place.
Order the records you can’t find in stores online. Lots of sites offer free shipping once you hit a certain amount, so wait until you have a few to order and do it all at once. You’ll never have as much fun checking the mail as you do waiting for an order to arrive. It’s like your birthday all the time!
Find some good shelving or a way to keep your records standing upright. Having them stacked up laying flat on the ground can be dangerous, as the weight of the stack can bend or damage records lower in the pile. It’s also just a surefire way to have a Leaning Tower Of Vinyl collapse all over your floor. The IKEA Kallax is a relatively cheap shelving unit that’s the exact right size for storing records. I started storing mine in an old milk crate that I happened upon at a flea market, but they stopped making them vinyl-sized after a certain year so it’s hard to find them. eBay has a fantastic collection of wooden vinyl crates, or you could just stack them standing up with something heavy at the end as a last resort (aka this is what I do, I am trash).
Update: I now own a Kallax shelf and it’s literally changed my life.
If you’re up for it, share your new collection with the world! YouTube is huge for “my vinyl collection” videos and updates. They’re the most popular videos I post 10 times out of 10. If you post a video, send me the link to check out! Don’t forget to go comment on other vinyl videos (they’ll most likely go watch yours in return).
Sit back and spin those records. Be proud of the record collection you’ve created and enjoy!
If you want some help starting your collection, may I suggest signing up for a VNYL subscription?
Or you could always take a stroll through my vinyl board on Pinterest.