This weekend I spent two days sitting at a local market selling off some of my vinyl records. I’ve been collecting records for about 15 years, and it has gotten to a point with my own ‘collection’ that I have way way too many. Of course, there is the honest response as well that almost all of the music that I listen to now is in an electronic format, so I wonder the value of keeping the records around.
I found the experience in selling the records quite cathartic, where it somehow made me feel a bit better knowing that my records were going home with people who would cherish them a bit more than I had cherished them. But the really amazing part for me were the people that would just flip through the records because they were there – and the age ranges – anywhere from kids around 11 years old, to probably one of the older customers who would have had to have been in his mid-seventies at least. All of them had the stories that went along with each record – from those that had some of the records as kids, to others who remember seeing one of the bands in concert, to the one person that was looking solely for album covers by this one graphic designer from the 50’s. I knew that my record collection was diverse, but I really didn’t think it would reel in such an eclectic crowd.
It was a great experience – I didn’t know how I would be accepted as the market was mostly for hand-crafted materials. But it seemed like the boyfriends/ husbands of some of those that were there for the more hand-crafted items would drift over and have a look at records when they had a moment. But the buying was not at all just from men – I’d say it was about 50/50 split. It seemed that a good portion of those that bought records from me didn’t even have a record player at home – they just either loved the artwork, or they loved the kitschy attraction of vinyl, or they thought they would hold on to the vinyl longer than other musical formats. One younger lady had almost literally flipped when she saw I had Prince’s Purple Rain (in fairly pristine condition); she didn’t have a record player, and most certainly had the MP3 versions of some of his songs, but it didn’t stop her from buying the record.
When I got home after the fairly successful market, I decided to watch a documentary that had been made a couple of years ago called “I Need that Record” which attempted to document the rationale behind the decline of the ‘record store’ as a place of musical community.
The documentary wasn’t that well constructed, and seemed to pit the local record store against the big bad record industry- I imagine a somewhat tenuous relationship at best. There were interviews with bigger names from music who have ventured into side-businesses, or who were now self-releasing music, and who had said eff you to the traditional business models and were trying to embrace a new way of connecting with their audiences. One record store who had apparently been pushed out of business by a neighbouring print store was profiled as well, but the idea of why the business hadn’t attempted to set-up in another location was never investigated in the film.