Whether or not you’re a record collector, you’ve probably seen an ad for one of the many vinyl subscriptions on Facebook or YouTube. If we’re being honest, you’ve probably seen 100+ of them. They’re everywhere, and for good reason! They’re the most fun you can have opening mail and you often discover new bands to love while doing it. If it’s not for you, it definitely qualifies as a great gift for the music lover in your life (aka everyone).
However, wow…you’ve seen SO many ads, how do you know which one to sign up for??
It’s your lucky day, I’m here to help! I’ve tested out 3 of the most popular subscription services and I’ve poured tons of time into researching (read: lusting after) the others. Let’s work together and figure out which one’s The One for you.
Price: $39USD Genre: Whatever you like (good selection of pop punk/emo) website
VNYL is the most personal subscription, as they send records based on your preferences instead of sending the same monthly record to everyone. If you keep your Discogs up to date, they’ll make sure they don’t send records you already own, and Spotify (among other streaming services) can let them know what you’re enjoying right now.
You can sign up to receive 1 or 3 records per month from a variety of #vibes. These range from having all 3 records curated for your tastes, to curating 2 based off 1 set record, to having all 3 pre-selected. You choose your vibe each month, along with any additional records you’d like to purchase from the member store (once you sign up, you have access to a ton of discounted records, turntables, and merch). Americans have the luxury of free shipping, but Canadian buyers beware: shipping is currently set at $23USD (over $30CDN).
Another benefit to VNYL is their referral program. If you send a signup code to a friend and they order their first box, you each get $10 to spend in the member store. It’s a nice little bonus for sharing something you like with others (good #vibes, am I right).
Price: $42USD Genre: Cool indie/rock/pop (honestly, just like…~cool~) website
Vinyl Me, Please was the first subscription service I saw when they started becoming ~a thing~ online. They send out one pre-selected “Record Of The Month” each month… but of course, there’s a twist. Each record comes with an art print and a cocktail pairing created specifically to match with the record. If you’re going to have a drink and listen to your new record, they want you to do it right. I can appreciate that.
Similar to VNYL, VMP has a store with exclusive products for members. In a move that’s entirely their own, they also send out a weekly newsletter called “The Standard”. It’s full of playlists, new vinyl releases, free downloads, and whatever else they can cram into an email. Knowledge is power!
Price: $29.99USD Genre: Breaking artists (they’ll be famous in a week) website
Vinylmnky has a WEIRD knack for picking artists that become the Next Big Thing moments later. For instance, Canadian DJ/producer KAYTRANADA was the “Breakthrough Record Of The Month” in July and won the Polaris Prize in October. That’s a huge honour. I feel like this service makes me cooler because I can say “oh, I had that record before they were mainstream”… no matter how much I hate when people do that.
Vinylmnky sends their BROTM once a month with a lot of stuff. There’s a vinyl-sized biography included with the record, going through the history of the artist and the album. Then, you’ve got the “bonus”. This changes with each record because the artist gets to choose what’s included. Some of them autograph the record sleeves, some include a fancy lithograph… they get to select that piece of the puzzle and Vinylmnky gives them the freedom to do so. Kind of neat, having the artist choose something for you.
Similar to the other services mentioned above, Vinylmnky has a store for members that gets them 20% off all previous BROTM albums that they may have missed before signing up. Cheaper than time travel, I’m pretty sure.
My first Flying Vinyl order is arriving soon (how soon, only time can tell) and I’m dying to check it out because I think they have a very unique way of doing things. I don’t think any other vinyl subscription service presses records exclusively for their members, do they?
Each month, Flying Vinyl presses 5 exclusive 7″ records that aren’t available anywhere else. At least one of those is guaranteed to be a colour pressing (and we all know I’m a sucker for colour pressings). Each 7″ contains 2 songs from a different artist, giving you a glimpse into 5 different bands you might enjoy. These also come with a booklet about the artists, and they regularly include bonus content (art prints, lyrics sheets, etc.) as well. This site doesn’t have any additional store features, so you either subscribe or you don’t.
Another thing I thought was cool about Flying Vinyl doesn’t quite come from the “vinyl collector” side of things. If you’re an artist and you think your music fits with the style of Flying Vinyl, you can submit your music to possibly be pressed for one of the subscription boxes. How sick is that?? They aren’t limited to signed artists or certain labels… I could record music and send it in to them if I wanted. And I might. But I won’t. But I could. And I most certainly will.
I love following MRC on Instagram because their photos are gorgeous and make me want to subscribe, but the style of music included isn’t as attuned to me as some of the other services. However, I think this service is perfect for those who love folk/country/Americana music and it fills a niche that I think needed filling.
With this service, you receive one pre-selected record per month along with a message from their curator, Drew. This month’s record is actually a mixtape put together by Drew featuring his favourite songs of 2016. Their store offers the option to order past records, along with turntables, speakers, and accessories… however, all I can focus on is that mug they’re selling. I really want their Magnolia mug.
Price: $30 Genre: Cool hipster (pretend that’s a genre) website
I had never heard of Vinyl Moon before, and then I heard about it 3 times on Wednesday… it felt like a sign. I love this idea because it seems like the most bang for your buck, and the most exclusive. Vinyl Moon sends out a monthly mixtape of 10 songs pressed onto the most glorious colour pressings you’ve ever seen. That’s wrapped up in a record jacket designed by a different visual artist each month, along with a note from the creator. On top of all that, you also get VIP access to monthly record release shows that are routinely held in different cities. WHAT.
I think this is cool if you want to discover a bunch of new bands at once and aren’t looking to receive specific records. Plus, literally no one else is going to have this pressing with these songs together because it’s made JUST for Vinyl Moon.
Third Man Records Vault
Price: $60 (quarterly) Genre: Jack White & Co. website
This is literally a dream come true, from a dream I never knew I had. Jack White’s label, Third Man Records, has a quarterly vinyl subscription service that specializes in everything related to Jack White. Every order contains a 12″ record, a 7″ record, and a bonus item. This month’s bonus item is a big wall pendant with a serpent on it and lemme tell ya… I’d order for that alone. But if that didn’t seal the deal, they 1UP’d my expectations and made all of the records into colour pressings. Imagine getting a box with some exclusive unreleased White Stripes music on red and black splatter vinyl, with a side of The Raconteurs. *high pitched screaming*
This subscription also gives you access to livestreams and chat rooms featuring Jack & the team, access to presale tickets, and a huge discount on a TIDAL membership. Oh, and 10% off all Third Man Records purchases. Holy hell. $60 sounds like a lot when you think about it, but since this one is sent quarterly… it’s kind of like paying for a monthly service and getting less, but getting things that are rare.
And there you have it! A collection of the greatest names in vinyl subscriptions all organized for you to make your difficult decisions. I know there are a few more coming in 2017 so I’ll be keeping an eye on those as well. Stones Throw has a one-year subscription to every record they release, and Funky Moose seems like they’re going to be our first Canadian service!
Which one do you think is best for you? Which ones have you already tried?