Records Galore! How To Start And Build A Vinyl Collection From Scratch

by Lauren Sanchez

how to collect vinyl

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Lauren Sanchez. Find her on Instagram at @lauren.sanchezz. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at thezillennialzine@gmail.com.

People have always been obsessed with nostalgia. Whether that’d be posting a #ThrowBackThursday post on Instagram, rewatching a T.V. show that aired almost 16 years ago over and over again or believing that you were “born in the wrong generation,” nostalgia is something that remains so close to people’s hearts. And with this obsession for things of the past, increased use of film cameras, cassettes and clothing trends of the 70s and 80s are coming back stronger than ever in 2022– and vinyls just happen to be one of the more popular ones!

Vinyls are coming back as new modern artists like Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, etc., make limited edition versions of their albums into records, and even with major stores like Target, Walmart, Barnes and Noble and Urban Outfitters having dedicated sections just for vinyls. 

Collecting vinyls is so much fun– there’s nothing I love more than being able to see the music I hold dear to my heart in physical form. Especially because many musicians add extra details and bonus content in their vinyls, it’s almost like getting a glimpse into the thought process and creation of the album which is the absolute coolest. So, if you’re looking to see what the hype is all about when it comes to collecting vinyls and wanting to start your collection from scratch, here are a few tips and tricks to get started on collecting.

Research And Find Vinyls Of Your Favorite Artists

With this collection being personalized to you and your music taste, collecting your favorite artists’ vinyls is definitely one of the most important things to go by. Many artists today have hopped on the record train and have been creating different editions, variants and types of vinyls to promote their albums and give their fans something that an online music streaming platform can’t. With each artist, it may differ in what albums they choose to have pressed into a record and/or if a record is a limited edition. For example, Taylor Swift with her new album “Midnights” had four variations: each record had a different record jacket/cover and a different colored vinyl. And to symbolize time and the running clock theme she had for this album, the four albums (if bought together) make a clock. Doing some research to see if your favorite artist offers a vinyl edition of their album would definitely be the way to go!

Purchase A Turntable/Record Player

Of course, you can’t listen to your records without having some kind of device to listen on! Purchasing a turntable is an absolute necessity when it comes to record collecting. Since record sales are on the rise, record players are now easier to find and have a huge variety of colors and aesthetics. Generally, these players cost around $100, but be aware that the cheapest ones may damage your records. If you’re just starting, a cheaper record player won’t hurt, but after a while, you might want to upgrade to a higher-quality model. Stores like Amazon, Urban Outfitters, Target and Best Buy have great selections of vinyl players to get started.

Keep Your Records And Turntable Clean

@emsvinyl

This is how I keep my records clean and sounding great!! Everyone does it differently but I find this way works best for me 🙂 #vinyl #vinyltok #fyp

♬ Moon Song – Phoebe Bridgers

Once you got your records and turntable, it is important to keep them clean and free of dust. Dust can greatly affect how the needle on the turntable plays your record and it can end up damaging it for future plays. Investing in a vinyl cleaning kit can leave your records spotless and dust-free. To preserve your records and keep them in the best condition possible, make sure you always put your records away in the record sleeve after listening to them– this will prevent them from getting scratched and having dirt/dust fall onto them.

Don’t Stack Your Records On Top Of Each Other

Stacking your records on top of one another can cause serious damage to your records. There is a possibility of the weight bending or misaligning the discs, and you don’t want that to happen. Instead, make sure that each vinyl stands upright on the appropriate shelving. You can use bookshelves, media shelves or even storage cases to hold your records in the right position. Or if you are into wall art, consider using wall mounts as a means of storage and to make your record setup look aesthetically pleasing.

Budget Your Money! Record Collecting Can Be Expensive!

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While record collecting can be incredibly fun and help you embrace your love for music more, record collecting can be an expensive hobby to keep up with. Rare and famous records can be hundreds and hundreds of dollars depending on how many copies of that album were made, what edition and if the artist did anything special during the process of making said vinyl.

So while record collecting can be expensive with the average record being between $30-$40, there are many thrift and local stores where you can shop second-hand and purchase from! I would definitely recommend visiting garage sales, thrift shops, and estate sales. For $5 or less, you can find great albums in good condition! But also, don’t be afraid to make a good purchase when it comes to curating your record collection. Like we said before, vinyl collecting is incredibly fun and if buying a limited edition record for $200 makes you happy, then by all means go for it. Just be cautious when it comes to making a big purchase and save, save, save!

Support Local And Independent Record Store Shops

With the demand for records being incredibly high, it’s important to support local and independent record store shops. Local record stores seriously have the best vibes ever and have thousands and thousands of records to discover. Generally, record store staff are very knowledgeable about music, musical artists, album pressings, and anything to do with vinyl– something that big-name stores can’t offer. Also, they can likely offer great recommendations based on your tastes, which can lead to you discovering a record you might have never considered and broaden your music taste.

And there is nothing better than supporting your local mom-and-pop shops directly in your community! When you buy from their stores, you’re supporting them and their hard work while getting some great records and music out of it.

And a bonus perk of shopping local is that sometimes you can get better prices and deals! Instead of paying $40 for a single record at Target, local stores can offer better deals at a much more affordable cost. Or if you are a flea market and/or antique store enthusiast, many of these places offer records as well. Although these records may not be brand new and the record sleeves may look worn/torn, sometimes you will be able to find awesome and incredibly lucky finds! Also, the wear and tear of the old records definitely add to the aesthetic, and plus you save money in the meantime to spend on future records.

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No matter if you already have some records lying around or are starting fresh, vinyl is a great way to collect music. It’s an experience like no other, and once you start collecting, you’ll find a deeper appreciation for music and the art of collecting vinyls.

Now that you know how to get started, hit up your nearest record store or browse online to find albums of your favorite artists. Enjoy the fun that comes from listening to a record and start building a collection worth showing off to music lovers everywhere.

How do you feel about collecting vinyls– is it a hobby worth trying? If so, what record are you going to add to your collection first? Let us know in the comments below!

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