How I Shop For Vinyl

My methodology for keeping track, purchasing, and minimizing cost of record shopping.

This article was tagged with: Music/Vinyl

There are 701 words in this article, and it will probably take you less than 4 minutes to read it.

This article was published 2023-11-01 00:00:00 -0400, which makes this post and me old when I published it.

What to Buy

Reasons for me to buy an album:

  • To collect an artist’s discography
  • To curate a library full of vibes
  • I love the album so much

There are some albums that I really love so much and only like them as I listen to them more (which isn’t to say that I constantly have them on repeat).

This kind of leads into the idea of me collecting an artist’s discography. Usually they have an album of theirs that I really love and then some peripheral albums that I also like, but just not as much. However, as a collector, I like to be a bit of a completionist. If I have two Bladee albums that I really like, why stop at just those, what about the other ones that I like as well? I would only recommend this kind of collection to someone who likes to spend money. From an economic/personal finance standpoint this is a terrible idea, and I would say to deprioritize record acquisitions of this nature if you can if you want to save your wallet. We want to be in the business of maximizing the joy and payoff of your investment in buying a record.

I want to curate a collection of different vibes because a lot of the times I use my record player is to slow down and indulge in an album that makes me feel something. I don’t need to like all the songs, but I don’t want there to be any songs that I hate. Songs that I have no feelings toward usually can be tuned out because I really only need to focus on the vibe of the album as a whole. This idea really leans into the idea of the album as a body of work and takes advantage of the fact that in vinyl it really only makes sense to go through the effort of playing vinyl unless you’ll play the album all the way through.

Keeping Track

Vinyl drops are so disparate in their distribution, there a ton of different sites that you have to be aware of, or sometimes the band will only be selling it from their own site. You have to really be on top of your stuff if you want to be able to buy a vinyl that you want because vinyl pressings are limited. For me, I keep track of records that I am waiting for pressings or re-pressings in order to do this.

Something to remember when lookin at different sites is to find out if those sites are reputable, because some sites like Merchbar are not very good at fulfilling orders on time. They’re not scammers because you can always get a refund but it might be months before you get your record even if it says it’s In Stock or Shipping on X Date. r/vinylreleases or artist specific Twitter accounts or subreddits are a good way to stay on top of new releases.

Minimizing Cost

I personally think that shipping is the hidden cost that really drives up vinyl costs for collectors, so I have a few things that I’ve picked up over time in order to reduce shipping/other costs.

  1. Buy multiple records at the same time.
    • I try to buy multiple records from a site at the same time because sometimes shipping will be one fixed cost for the entire order.
    • Some places have free shipping over a certain amount spent.
  2. Be cautious about sales.
    • Taking advantage of sales is a good idea, but sometimes its okay to hold off because sales are often ways to scare you into buying more things and they often run the same sales multiple times throughout the year.
  3. Stay away from colored vinyl if you can.
    • I try not to buy splatter vinyl or colored vinyl unless it’s not that much more expensive or it’s the only thing it’s left.
  4. Look at big box stores e.g. Best Buy, Target, B&N.
    • You can use gift cards, rewards points, Honey/online discount codes.
    • You could ship to pick up in the store to save on shipping.

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