Why People Collect and Listen to Records (is it for you?)

Record sales grow every year with 2022 expected to exceed 20 million sales, despite digital platforms like Spotify and TikTok holding 85% of the music industries market share.

So why do people continue to listen and collect records when digital services are so much more practical?

In this all-in-one guide, you’ll learn everything about why people collect and listen to records in 2022, and whether you should too!

Record Purchase Stats

How Many People Collect Vinyl’s?

It is difficult to know how many avid ‘record collectors’ there are in the world but a good estimate is 30,000 based on worldwide sales and the number of members on popular community groups, like Reddit which has 27,000 members. However, the number of casual or moderate purchases of records is far higher.

 

How Many People Are Buying Records In 2022?

Over 20 million vinyl records are now sold worldwide each year, totalling over $250 million in sales. Despite digital platforms holding 85% of the music industry market share, sales of vinyl records continue to grow each year although it is highly unlikely they will surpass 15% of the total market share.

Google’s own data shows that interest in records has stayed largely the same in the last 5 years despite the rapid expansion in digital music. There was even a spike in Christmas 2020 due to people taking up new hobbies on mass when Covid-19 first happened.

 

Why People Collect Records

12 Reasons Why You SHOULD Start a Record Collection

Record collecting is a deeply personal hobby but we’ve found the 12 reasons why almost every record collector gets into the hobby and stays with it for years and even decades.

Take a look at each of the 12 points below, if any of them sound like your style then record collecting might be the hobby for you.

  • Nostalgia

    • For many people, a record collection starts from before they were even born! You may have had a record passed down to you from a parent, or grandparent, which holds a special place in your heart. Music is a deep expression of who you are through so being able to hold a physical piece of what makes someone you love who they are can be deeply moving. Being able to continue that collection down the generations as you grow older can make that all the more meaningful.
  • A Love Of Art

    • The artwork on record cases, sleeves and the record itself can range from absolutely stunning to weird and downright haunting, as with other forms of art! Collecting and displaying records is not only a great way to decorate your home, it’s a fantastic way to express yourself through visual and auditory art simultaneously.
NASA’s gold-plated record which was shot into space on the Voyager 1
  • Being Part Of A Community

    • The record player community is passionate, talkative and mostly, extremely helpful too. Whether that is through your local record stores, people you meet or through online community groups like Reddit or Facebook, you can be part of a lifelong hobby with like-minded individuals. We’ve known people to make friends and even get married based on a mutual love of records!
  • Feeling A Deeper Connection To An Artist/Band

    • It is well known that artists make the greatest profit from the sale of records compared to all other physical and digital alternatives. By collecting records of your favourite artists, you have a physical reminder of your support of them compared to streaming. It is also the best way to to fully immerse yourself into who they are, by connecting visual art with the highest quality recording possible on any format after spending potentially years on the song writing process. We find musicians tend to appreciate this more than most as they understand the work that goes on to develop a brand and record!
  • Passing A Record Collection On To Loved Ones

    • We’ve known many people, especially new parents, to get into record collecting with the goal of passing it on to their children in the future – like a musical heirloom! Think about it, have you ever watched a TV show so good that you are desperate for your friends to watch it so you can talk about it? Well for many people, that is the same with music, where you want your loved ones to experience the same joy and passion you had with it one day. Passing on a family record collection is a beautiful way to remember dead loved ones and continue your legacy throughout history.
  • A Multi-Sensory Experience

    • In this hyper-digitized age, we have access to literally millions of songs at the click of a button but the cost of that practicality, comes the risk of not appreciating music as much. Collecting records by your favourite artists, for many people, shows a deeper level of appreciation and respect as it takes more time, care and use of more senses than just your hearing. It takes in hearing, sight and tactile senses through the process of cleaning and storing records, setting a record up to play, looking at the artwork every time and of course, listening to songs with the quality that the artist intended.
  • Fascination With Music History

    • Peter Goldmark created the first vinyl record in 1948 so for fans of history, being able to collect your own personalised piece of music history, with songs from almost 100 years ago, is a uniquely exciting experience! In a growing digital age of streaming this is even more important, as many older songs, such as Blues records from the 50s, aren’t on streaming sites and risk being lost through time without collectors keeping them alive!
  • Frame And Decorate Your Home

    • Not every collector needs a deep or emotive reason to start record collecting. We know many record collectors who simply love music, or the look of records, and want to display them around their house! They look stunning, varied and make for a great talking point compared to conventional home decor artwork.

framed record

  • Greater Expression Of Your Personality

    • Streaming platforms like Spotify are great but adding songs to your personal playlist just doesn’t feel very…. personal. Collecting records enables you to express yourself much more through the dozens of variations available such as colour, rarity, sleeve artwork, record length, type, special edition releases, exclusive B-Sides and more. You can build a much more personalised ‘playlist’ by collecting records rather than saving songs that everyone has instant access to on streaming platforms.
  • Discover Truly New Music

    • Spotify and other streaming platforms use personalised algorithms to find you new music but the problem with this, is that they keep suggesting similar styles of songs and genres. Browsing records in stores, pawn shops and your local community is a great way to find completely new and different that you might enjoy to expand your musical repertoire!
  • Create Strong Memories

    • Collecting records based on special moments in your life is one of our favourite reasons to get into record collecting, and one you can be sure to appreciate when you grow old. Perhaps there’s a song that makes you think of your significant other? Or the album from the first gig you went to? Or every live show you’ve ever been to? Whatever the moment, you will be collecting memories that will last a lifetime and beyond, by passing them down through the generations.
  • Collecting Can Be Therapeutic

    • Last but not least, we find that the process of collecting and listening to records can be very cathartic for most record collectors around the world. Cleaning and looking after your collection takes slow, patient care. Arranging your record player and browsing which record you’d like to play is a process away from the usual stresses of life and work to ground yourself in. Even browsing record shops enables you to escape your normal life and dive into a new world to collect yourself.

 

As you can see, there are a LOT of different reasons why people collect records and each is deeply rewarding in it’s own way. But there are of course, reasons why record collecting might NOT be for you.

Below are the 7 main reasons why people don’t become record collectors.

 

Why People Don’t Collect Records

7 Reasons Why You SHOULDN’T Start A Record Collection

  • Expensive Hobby

    • The bottom line is, record collecting IS an expensive hobby if you intend to amass a large collection over many years. The average record costs $20 with some going for significantly more like Tool’s Fear Inoculum set. You can get records cheaply by browsing pawn shops and used records online but if you want become a keen record collector, this isn’t going to be something that you want to do long-term!
    • Record players themselves range from $60 up to thousands but we don’t recommend buying a cheap record player if you have records you want to take good care of. The same goes for speakers! You can check out our list of the best record players under $300 that have bluetooth speaker connectivity here to get you started in the most cost effective way WITHOUT the risk of damaging your record collection.

Fear Inoculum Deluxe Limited Edition Vinyl Box Set

 

  • Too Much Care And Attention Required

    • Maintaining a record collection requires time, care and patience. From the process of setting up records to play, carefully taking them out and back in to their sleeves, displaying them safely and cleaning your record player regularly. If this sounds like torture to you, then it’s likely not the hobby for you!
  • Lack Of Technical Expertise

    • Although not essential, it it helpful to have some basic technical skills and knowledge to better understand and take care of your record players, especially if something goes wrong. Fortunately, we have a whole area of this website dedicated to issues, repairs and quick fixes for every issue that can arise with your record player if you don’t have these skills so don’t let it deter you completely!
  • You Only Listen To Music On The Go

    • Okay this may sound obvious, but if you are someone who only listens to music on the go, or only wants to, such as during commutes or driving, then this probably isn’t the hobby for you. Arguably the biggest drawback of records is their impracticality, requiring time, care, patience and storage to take proper care of them and listen to them.
  • You Only Want To Make A Profit From Selling Records

    • Stories of rare records selling for thousands more than they were bought for are just that – rare. Although you may luck out one day by finding a rare record for cheap, or perhaps the price of your limited edition record becomes high in demand after the band broke up, it should not be the main reason you start a collection. The chances are, you won’t turn much of a profit by buying and selling records unless you REALLY know what you’re doing.
  • Obsessive or Addictive Personality?

    • As we explained above, record collecting can be as expensive as it is addictive. With that in mind, it’s important to note that if you are someone who is prone to addiction, such as gambling addiction, especially if you have limited finances, this might not be the right hobby for you right now.
  • Lack Of Storage Space!

    • Lastly, make sure you have adequate storage space before amassing a grand collection of records! Although small in size, they can add up and often, you will want to display them proudly rather than having a big pile of records stacked on top of each other collecting dust. We highly recommend hanging them up in frames around the house and standing them upright in a record holder like this. 

wood record holder

 

Now you know all the reasons why people collect records, you can decide if record collecting is the hobby for you! If you’d like to give it a go and want to know where to start, have a look at the types of records you can collect below.

Although not an exhaustive list, we found browsing these exciting looking records is the perfect starting point in your record collecting journey.

 

What Types of Records Can You Collect?

  • Coloured Records

    • All records are naturally colourless so black carbon is added to the PVC mix to create the classic record look. Coloured records are made by using dyes instead meaning you can have a huge variety of styles like single colours, smokey effects and more.

coloured smokey records

mini record

  • Rare

    • It is hard to know which records are ‘rarer’ than others when browsing in shops but usually, you wouldn’t expect to find truly rare records in established record shops. When you do, they will know what they are and have a much higher price tag. You can get lucky at pawn shops or online with used records though. If you’re looking to start collecting rare records, you could start with limited edition releases first. I recommend checking out our guide on how to check if your records are rare and worth money.
This 10 Inch Beatles Record with ‘Til There Was You’ sold for £77,500

5 Reasons Why You SHOULD LISTEN to Vinyl

Not convinced to become a die-hard record collector? You don’t have to collect records to enjoy purchasing and listening to vinyl records on a regular basis! Although similar, there are key differences between collecting and listening to vinyl which we guide you through below.

  • The Quality Is Better

    • The sound quality of a song played on vinyl is superior to other methods because there it has not undergone any compression. This means the sound you get is truly the sound that was intended to be heard during the recording process. Digital formats, especially MP3 which Spotify exclusively uses, compress audio files down so their file size is smaller, meaning they have a limited range of audio signals compared to vinyl which hosts even tiny details in the waveform.
  • Best Way To Support Artists

    • Bands make the most profit from sales of records compared to all other methods of purchasing songs. If you want to show your support to a band, especially lesser known bands, then buying their records makes you a more supportive fan!
  • A More Emotive Experience

    • Research has shown that people ‘listen more’ to songs when they are played on records instead of digital formats. This is likely due to the time it takes to properly setup a record player, requiring you to invest more of your time into the experience. The need to physically get up to change songs also brings a psychological effect in ensuring you make the most of every song you hear. When combined with the pride you have in your collection and any emotions elicited from the artwork, listening to vinyl provides a much more personal experience than other methods.
  • The ‘Full Album Experience’

    • Compared to digital formats like Spotify, where individual songs from any artists are commonly listened to on shuffle, records encourage you to experience the full album, in the order the artist wanted. This adds to the overall connection to the artist, and to the deeper meaning behind the music by listening to a full album like one long musical experience as opposed to one off songs. Full albums are becoming less popular every year, as artists are encouraged to keep releasing individuals singles to generate interest and stay relevant, as full albums take a much longer time to produce and release from start to finish.

  • Listen To Music Not Available On Streaming Platforms

    • Although not that common anymore, there is still a lot of music out there that simply isn’t available digitally like rare b-side tracks and much older songs. If you’re an audiophile or have a love of older music, then collecting and listening to them on records may be your only solution!

 

4 Reasons Why You SHOULDN’T LISTEN to Vinyl

  • Impracticality

    • Despite their higher quality and all the reasons above, records suffer from impracticality. In todays busy world, most people listen to music in the car and on the go or in a hurry. It takes time to setup a record player, you will need to get up every 20 minutes on average to change sides and it requires you to listen only in a particular room (unless you have bluetooth speakers). Combined, this makes it frustrating and sometimes impossible to listen to music on vinyl records.
  • How Much You Enjoy Music

    • Okay so you probably aren’t reading this if you don’t enjoy music but for some people, the idea of listening to vinyl sounds great but the reality is they simply don’t listen to music that much. This will make it far less likely that you will put the effort in to listen to a record and will not be worth your time or money to listen if so.
  • Prefer To Support Artists In Other Ways

    • If your primary reason to listen to records is to support your favourite artists, then you might prefer just to support them in other ways. Buying merch for example, is one of the best ways to support bands and if you’re someone who isn’t too fussed about the quality that vinyl brings but loves merch then why not do this instead!
  • Expense Of Getting Started

    • Unfortunately, it isn’t cheap to start listening to records and if you are tight on money, this might not be the right time for you to start. You will need to purchase records, a record player, speakers and appropriate storage which will cost at least $100 at the very low end. However, we strongly encourage you NOT to purchase cheap record players and speakers. Check out our definitive blog on all the reasons why this is so important before you start!
Technics SL-1000R Turntable worth over $15,000

 

Will Record Collecting Stay Popular In The Future?

There are 3 main factors we see contributing to how popular record players, and record collecting, will stay in the future:

  • Current trends on the sales of record players
  • Environmental Impact
  • The rise of NFTs

Current Trends

According to a recent CBS poll, 24% of Americans own a record player but most of those are over the age of 55. Nearly 90% of adults below 44 years old do not own a record player. As the world becomes rapidly more digital, it is likely that even less young adults will own a record player by 2030. However, we expect this decrease to be very small over time as people are living for much longer. This also leads us to believe that record collecting will rise, because hobbies that are seen as more ‘niche’ tend to have more diehard fans.

 

  • Environmental Impact

PVC, the material that records are made from, is a plastic which is hard to recycle. This means records aren’t the most environmentally friendly form of music available. As the world grows more environmentally conscious every day, it is likely that people will choose not to collect records in favour of greener alternatives.

On a positive note, recent changes in technology are lighting the way for environmentally friendly records to be made. Mercury Prize-nominee Nick Mulvey released a record made entirely from recycled plastics recovered from the ocean.

‘Ocean plastic’ record being printed
  • The Rise of NFTs

The rise of NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) are a new form of digital media. With music, they give a person a unique version of that song that only they own but in a digital format. Unlike Spotify streams where everyone listens to the same version of a song, each NFT of that song is unique and identifiable only to the person who bought it. As new forms of digital music rise, they will chip away at the market share of other digital platforms like Spotify but are unlikely to affect analogue music platforms as much, like vinyl.

Although they will likely still contribute to an overall increase in the digitisation of music, it is possible that people will respond by converting back to physical forms of music, as people tend to go back and forth between hobbies every few decades.

In 2022, Muse were the first band to release an NFT Album, ‘Will of the People’, that was eligible to be featured in the charts. As a world-first, it gives us a clear picture of how the future of music will progress over the next decade.

 

Conclusion

Record collecting is a hugely exciting passion for people of all ages and backgrounds but it’s not for everyone. With it’s biggest drawbacks being that it is expensive and impractical, the majority of people choose not to own a record player, opting to listen to digital versions of songs instead. Record sales continue to grow however. As the world becomes more digital, you can expect record collecting to gain even more interest, albeit from a shrinking % of the population.

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