These days you can subscribe to anything online. From your gourmet dinner, clothes, razors, sex toys, socks and bacon, there is almost nothing you can’t get delivered to your door on a regular basis.
So, with vinyl continuing its unprecedented comeback, there is no shortage of subscription services ready to sell you some wax. From new releases curated by your Discogs page, used dollar-bin-chud crammed into a box and sold at an outrageous mark up, to LP’s that come with cocktail recipes and wine pairings, there seems to be just about something for everyone.
So what role do vinyl subscription services play in the future of record collecting?
It’s a question we struggled with for quite some time while writing this article. On one hand, our website if fiercely dedicated to celebrating independent record stores and maintaining their vitality. On the other hand, we strive to preserve and promote vinyl as the most superior format for music consumption.
While we are sure there are many who deem any retailer of records a threat to our beloved record stores, it would be shortsighted to make this claim against vinyl subscription services.
While there are plenty of subscription services that meet the day to day needs of consumers, vinyl subscriptions are not one of them. While streaming music on Spotify may be a daily occurrence, adding a record to your collection is an experience, no matter where it was purchased. Furthermore, most vinyl subscriptions have carved out their own niche to differentiate themselves from the dozens of others in the field. Vinyl Me, Please offers three different plans including everything from cocktail recipes and unique art prints. Third Man Records Vault offers super limited exclusives of the TMR catalog, and Wax & Stamp has special guests make your selection. The old model of music subscriptions just doesn’t work. Services cant simply peddle random titles to the consumers and expect them to buy. This model is what plunged Columbia House into bankruptcy and their much hyped re-entry into the vinyl market never took off. Consumers are wanting something unique and personal.
One thing that these subscription services are doing right is the social interaction with their product. Music is supposed to be social. That is one of the greatest things about record stores; people want to share their taste in music! It seemed to be a lost art as music went from hi-fi speaker systems to private, “don’t talk to me” earbuds. Nowadays these services are encouraging unboxing YouTube videos, Facebook posts and tweets showing their excitement about the new music that’s on their doorstep. Friends are liking, discussing, and getting on board with record collecting again.
In truth, these services are encouraging the future of record collecting, and in all likelihood, they are not hurting the independent record store, but helping it. While many services are catering to taste, the selection process is a gamble, and listeners are being exposed to all kinds of new music, just like a “beer of the month club” expands your selection next time you go to the bar. In addition, at least at the time of this article, they are shying away from the super mainstream releases and introducing people to all kinds of new artists.
With renewed interest in vinyl, collecting, and with a slew of new musical tastes, these young collectors will find their way to the record stores. Sooner or later the single LP hitting their doorstep will not be enough and they will go the record store where curated selections, new music, and social connections are in endless supply.