Even though CDs still outsell vinyl record albums, records are definitely making a comeback, and there are several reasons for this. Record albums deliver a great sound and are a lot easier to take care of than many people realize. If you’ve recently tried out one of these albums and think that you’d like to start collecting them, just know that it is now easier than ever to do so. Record shops are now popping up all over the country, so it is very likely that there is one where you now live. If you’d like to start collecting vinyl records and you’re not sure how to get started, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Always Start Cheap
The first thing you’ll notice when you’re collecting vinyl albums is that the prices are all over the place, which means that there are some really cheap albums and some very expensive ones. Always resist the temptation to get the most expensive albums first, because there are plenty of inexpensive ones to start with. If you decide later that the hobby of collecting record albums isn’t for you, you don’t want to have spent a lot of money on them up to that point. If you start cheap and decide not to collect them after a while, you won’t find yourself out of a lot of money in the end.
If you start by visiting thrift shops and garage sales, you can find a lot of albums for $1 or less, making it a very affordable hobby. Does this mean that you’ll be able to find music by The Beatles or Miles Davis for this price? Probably not, but you can get a lot of the “basic” artists from long ago, which means that they are very likely to become an investment at some point. You can always add more expensive records to your collection later on, but for right now, it’s best to start hitting those garage sales and second-hand shops so you can find albums that are affordable.
Try to Start with the Classics
It’s very common for record collectors not to know where to start, but there’s an easy solution to that. If all of your current music is stuck in a certain decade, you may not be aware of what the “classics” are, but there’s an easy way to familiarize yourself with the artists and songs that fall under that category. The best thing to do is pick up a copy of Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Times” and start by looking for as many of these albums as possible. Since the list usually covers several decades’ worth of music, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a lot of them where old records can be found.
Naturally, you can’t go wrong if you start with names such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Doors, or Bob Marley, but you should also concentrate on finding albums by artists you love. If you’re not that keen on an artist that is still very popular with music enthusiasts, you don’t have to include that artist’s music in your collection at first. But over time, you can end up with a very impressive collection by all sorts of artists if you’re continuously looking and if you concentrate on buying albums in all genres, including rock, R&B, country, jazz, and all the others.
Whenever Possible, Go with the Originals
When you’re searching for records to add to your collection, try to avoid any reissues whenever possible. Why? Because if you find a newer version, it is likely going to be made from the most recent version of the album and won’t be an original; in other words, it is a copy of a copy. Sometimes this occurs because the record label no longer owns the original analog master, but whatever the reason is, choosing original pressings of an old album is always better than a reissue of that album. When you think about the reasons for this, it just makes sense.
This is especially important if the reason why you’re collecting vinyl albums is because of the sound quality. If you’re just collecting them for the sake of collecting, the quality may not make a difference to you. But you should also keep in mind that if you want your collection to be worth something one day, even if you never intend to play these records, sound quality is still going to be important. In the end, though, it’s up to you how important the sound quality is, which can help you decide between reissues or original albums.
Don’t Overpay for Your Albums
This is a tricky issue because when you first start collecting, you’ll have no idea what these record albums are worth. You can do some research, of course, but if there’s an album you really want and you think that the seller is asking too much for it, just go ahead and make an offer. When people are selling old albums, they often start with a higher price than they think they’ll get, so it hurts no one to make an offer that’s lower than what they’re asking. It doesn’t mean that you’ll get it, but you might be surprised by how often this will come out in your favor.
Keep in mind that a reissue will cost less than an original, and if you’re buying it in person, which is always best, you can check the condition of the record itself, the sleeve, and the cover. In some cases, the price the seller is asking for it is simply too high. Also, the longer your collect records, the more familiar you’ll become with what’s a good deal and what isn’t. This is a little harder to do when you’re shopping online, of course, but if you’re shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll have a chance to review the album and decide for yourself what you think it’s worth.
Connect Online with Other Record Collectors
Just as networking is good for growing your business, it is also the perfect way to learn more about which albums are worth a lot and which ones aren’t. There are dozens of online groups devoted entirely to the art of record collecting, so it shouldn’t be difficult to enlist in a few of them so you can start reading posts and learning all about this fun hobby. As mentioned earlier, learning how much a particular album might be worth is going to be your biggest challenge as a collector of record albums, and these forums and online groups can help you a lot in that area.
In fact, you’re going to be surprised by how valuable these groups become to you. One of the biggest advantages is that these collectors will share information with you and other collectors, including where to find rare albums and even how much you should pay for a particular recording. In fact, there aren’t many tidbits of information that you won’t be able to learn when you join one of these groups, and since they’re free to join, why not sign up for more than one? If a particular music store has a great selection of the genre you’re most interested in, it’s very possible that another collector who’s been there will let you know ahead of time, increasing the odds that you’ll find records you love.