Forget Pandora and iTunes, Go to Record Shows
Sure, downloads and streaming are great for discovering and purchasing new music, but for quality, quantity and affordability it's tough to beat record shows.
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Credit: Monkeyhouse Entertainment
September 15, 2010 by Arlen Schweiger

I’ve already had the pleasure of sharing some of my experiences reacquainting myself—and my ears—with vinyl here on Electronic House.

You’ll forgive me if from time to time I revisit the subject, like I am today.

That’s because going to events like the New England Record and CD Collectors Shows, which I scoured for a couple of hours this past Sunday, simply reinforce the passion in my new hobby.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m an iTunes junkie. I have nearly 12,000 songs in my library and am really looking forward to having a NuVo Technologies Renovia audio system installed so I can enjoy them in several areas of my house. And I love sites like Pandora for streaming artists who I don’t have much of, or finding similar bands I might enjoy.

But listening to vinyl almost exclusively over the last three months worked just as well. I’m buying new music (new to me, at least, even if most of the albums are from the 70s) and discovering new songs because of vinyl’s inherent ability to get me to listen to an entire album side rather than cherry-picking tunes.

Aside from the potential storage problem I may be getting myself into, picking up a slew of albums when I get the opportunity, at $1 to $3 or so each, is a no-brainer to me. If you’re thinking about hooking up a turntable in your system, be prepared to get hooked. Here at the office, just talking about music and vinyl got another one of our editors back into it. I’m guessing by late next year we’ll probably both be considering turntable upgrades as holiday gifts to ourselves.

He’s a little more open to spending than I am, however. My limit is about $3—there’s so much you can find at record shows and record stores for that price and below, to me it almost seems silly to spend more. Of course, I did pick up an album for $5 on Sunday, but I justified it by saying it was a Beatles album—and even then, it was Rubber Soul, in very nice condition, at a table that was selling everything half price! From the same table I came away with, among others, Yes’ triple-live-LP Yessongs ($1.50), Genesis’ Foxtrot ($1), Crosby Stills and Nash’s Deja Vu, self-titled and CSN (a quarter each), and Chicago’s debut (self-titled, before the name change) The Chicago Transit Authority ($1).

And like I said, I’m stingy on spending, going for the value deals. If there were rarities or other specific albums that I was really targeting, there were plenty of other options available at the show—many more bins and stacks.

This came on the heels of discovering that a local place in my home city of Worcester, Mass., called That’s Entertainment had quite an extensive LP collection to go with its main offerings as a comic book store. The bigger discovery I made there was that if you bought 10 albums out of their $1 bins, you could get 10 more for free!

Then today, as if reading my mind, the latest email I received from Rolling Stone included a link to the magazine’s new story on “The Best Record Stores in the USA: The Top 25 Spots for Unique Vinyl and CDs, from San Francisco to Boston” with a slideshow featuring the picks. Road trip!

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com and Electronic House magazine.

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