First things first: I love vinyl. Probably to the extent that it’s unhealthy. I love collecting records. I love adding new items to my collection. And while I absolutely love it, there are some definite drawbacks and major cons to be aware of if you are even thinking about getting started. In this post, I’m sharing 5 reaons why the LAST thing you should be doing right now is starting a record collection.
It’s a BAD idea.
Take it from someone like myself — one who has been collecting for over 25 years!
1 | Limited Availability of Select Vinyl Records
While vinyl’s popularity has increased in recent years, it still has a smaller market share compared to digital formats. This can result in limited availability and selection of certain albums, especially for niche or less popular music genres.
Yes, part of the joy can be the hunt, but the scarcity of some records can be frustrating, painstaking, and even agonizing.
One band I love is Camera Obscura. I’ve been a fan for decades now, and I have all of their full-length albums in my collection… except I don’t.
I’m missing that ONE piece: the first album. Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi. I want it SO bad, but I struggle to justify spending $350 for a copy.
You see, only 1,000 were pressed upon its release in 2001. They’ve teased reissuing it a few years ago, but that was a lone post on Instagram and nothing has surfaced since.
2 | Fragility and Maintenance of Vinyl Records
Vinyl records are delicate and susceptible to damage. Scratches, warps, and dust can affect sound quality, requiring proper care and maintenance. Regular cleaning and handling precautions are necessary to preserve the lifespan of the records.
In fact, one of my biggest boundaries is other people handling my records. It gives me great anxiety!
And I have to explicitly tell people that in order to hold the wax, they must abide by some personal rules. Handling my records improperly will irrefutably damage the friendship or relationship.
You’ll see what I mean.
3. Cost of Vinyl Has Increased a Lot
Collecting vinyl records can be an expensive hobby! New releases and limited editions can come with premium price tags, and rare or sought-after records can fetch high prices in the secondhand market.
Additionally, investing in a quality turntable and audio equipment can add to the overall cost.
As the popularity of vinyl has returned, the price has increased. Twenty years ago, a new record setting you back $20 seemed steep, now one under $20 seems wildly inexpensive. Most new albums will set you back $30 USD at least!
Last year, I shared my truly beautiful copy of Julien Baker’s Sprained Ankle, which has about 30-40 different variants. My copy is great, and I love it, but this particular pressing’s limited quantity (just 150 were pressed to this color) means I likely overpaid greatly for it. I spent over $50.
4 | Vinyl Records Require Lots of Storage and Space
Vinyl records take up physical space. Lots and lots of it! They require adequate storage solutions to prevent damage and deterioration.
As collections grow, finding sufficient space can become challenging, especially for those with limited living arrangements.
When I moved to Texas, I had 30 boxes — 30 BOXES! — of LPs and 7-inch singles. That’s a lot of space to move, and the anxiety of having them move from Washington to Texas was immense! Furthermore, I’m ALWAYS running out of space, something my wife absolutely hates.
5 | The Portable Inconvenience of Vinyl Records
Vinyl records are not as portable or convenient as digital formats. Obviously. But I don’t think a lot of people realize just how inconvenient they are until they hauling a stack of 20-30 around between locations.
I’m not talking about going from one room to another. I’m talking about transporting them across town. Carrying a large collection of records can be impractical and cumbersome, especially while traveling.
Additionally, the need for a turntable and speakers restricts the locations where vinyl can be played, unlike digital music that can be accessed on various devices.
I’ve picked up records while traveling, and bringing them back home is always difficult if a flight’s involved. Not just that, it requires dedicated space to actually listen to the records. Suitcase players are, frankly, shit.
When I had a radio show back in WA, I decided the format would be vinyl only and I’d spin records from my collection. Every Friday night, I’d haul a crate to the radio station. It was HEAVY. I’d get anxious about rain. I’d be nervous about having to slam on my brakes. These were all very real concerns.
So, what should you do?
Collecting vinyl records can be a deeply satisfying experience (again, take it from me!), providing superior sound quality, tangible aesthetics, and a sense of nostalgia. However, it also comes with limitations such as cost, fragility, and storage requirements.
Balancing the pros and cons can help individuals determine if vinyl record collecting aligns with their interests and lifestyle. I’ll cover 5 reasons you SHOULD start a collection in a future post, so scroll down a little and subscribe to my email list to get notified when that one goes up.
If you are thinking of starting anyway, take a look at my last post where I share 5 essential vinyl records you can snap up today from Amazon for less than $20 USD. You might also like my post on 5 tips for buying records online…