Memebusting: The realities of record shopping vs downloading


record shopping

For all manner of reasons, my patience is wearing very thin with the productivity black hole that is Facebook. One thing that continues to irk me is the endless posting of vinyl DJs looking down upon digital DJs. This meme in particular keeps appearing, and has done so enough times for this veteran vinyl-buying DJ to explain what was so great about tracking down records for those who perhaps haven’t experienced the unmitigated joy of record shopping. Yes, my tongue is wedged very firmly in my cheek.

You had to leave the house? To buy music?

Record buying started with checking out the newest releases on the radio or reading about them in magazines. If you found tracks that you liked, you’d have to travel to your nearest record shop to lay your hands on the latest releases. This could be as simple as popping into town on the bus to get the latest top 30 tracks (yes just 30 back then), but the chances are that as a specialist DJ, you’d have to travel further afield on the train to the bright lights of the big city, where they would have imports from the US too. Already, this is taking time and money on what could potentially be a wasted journey.

Now, even though you may have travelled some distance to do your vinyl shopping, there was no guarantee whatsoever that they’d have the vinyl you wanted at all. They may have had a very limited number, most of which were kept under the counter for special customers (aka their DJ mates), or perhaps only had one copy, which in the whole scheme of things wasn’t always an ideal situation for DJs. It was even possible that the track was so sought after that only the biggest cities would have the vinyl at all, meaning you missing out completely, unless of course the record shop was happy to order it, which would mean coming back next week to pick it up. Yes, next week.

The experience in the record shop wasn’t always straightforward either. There was no magical search button — you had to like use your hands and shit to rummage through the racks, that although listed alphabetically weren’t automagically kept in order. But sometimes devious DJs would put vinyl in other racks before heading off to get cash so you wouldn’t find it first. I never did that. Honest.

They didn’t all have listening facilities, or perhaps had just one turntable behind the counter, and weren’t always so happy about breaking the seal on the fresh import 12″ retailing for an insane £4.99. So you often had to take a leap of faith simply on the label alone. I certainly learned a few harsh and expensive lessons this way.

So at this point, you may or may not have the vinyl you wanted, or may have dropped serious cash on tracks that you have no idea about. And it has cost you time and money to get this far. So you venture home, with a heavy bag full of vinyl, looking forward to breaking the seal and breathing in the smell of fresh imported vinyl.

It’s scratched before I can scratch it

Oh dear. It seems that the 12″ import is warped. Or scratched. Or sounds like pure arse, both musically and from a mastering and pressing plant perspective (shock horror — not all vinyl sounds awesome). So that investment in time and money is pretty much in the toilet, with nothing to show apart from a carrier bag full of shitty music that you can’t play, and most probably nobody wants to hear anyway. Awesome – just bloody awesome.

So summing up at this point — record shopping was a lengthy and often expensive pursuit, with absolutely no guarantee of success, and the end product being something that would wear out, get damaged or in many cases stolen.

Sounds awesome right new DJs? Well for those of who knew no better because the internet wasn’t a thing, yes it was the most awesome thing ever. And I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I’ve painted very much of a worst case scenario, but it’s important for us vintage diggers to take off our rose tinted glasses. Sometimes, a lot of times in fact, it was a completely shitty soul destroying experience. But ultimately I have a physical collection of records and the memories that go with them. They are a tangible part of who I am, as will all the records that I continue to add to my collection.

Compare and Contrast

Today’s music buyer is inundated with thousands of tracks every week, all of which can be quickly searched, listened to, bought, and curated from just about anywhere in the world, and in their digital crates within seconds. Be it your sofa, toilet, airport, or beach, the latest hottest music is waiting for you to press “buy”. And it won’t be warped, single copies, or just crap music either. Nor will it wear out, take up valuable shelf space, or break your back to transport. And it’s considerably cheaper too. Your unbreakable huge collection of music you actually want sits safely in your pocket and can be with you at all times. Mission accomplished. What I wouldn’t have given to be able to do that in the 80s.

Understand now?

So new DJs, which one sounds better to you? Obviously the latter scenario makes the most sense, and with good reason. But it’s grossly unfair for a purist to look down upon a digital DJ because they haven’t dug crates or experienced the joy of record shopping — because it simply isn’t relevant to new DJs. Most DJs cannot buy the hottest tracks on vinyl, which really does scupper any argument that purists might have anyway. Record shopping simply isn’t possible for DJs the same way it was in pre-digital times, thus has NO RELEVANCE for them. Hell, taking blu rays back to Blockbusters is becoming a distant memory, let alone finding a record shop.

Record shopping ruled, but sucked too

So please, the next time you feel the need to bemoan new DJs and look down upon them, let’s remember that for the most part, they can’t be vinyl DJs even if they wanted to. And no matter how hard we pontificate about the good old days, buying music in physical form has zero relevance to them anymore.

Tell us!

What’s your best and worst record buying experience? Do you miss those days? Or do you feel that new DJs have got a much better music buying experience?

  • DJ Hombre

    …that’s all assuming you know the details of the track you’re after – none of this Shazam lark back then, so you had to face the abject humiliation of singing / humming your desired tune across the record counter to an often bemused employee. It took me years to find some tracks back then, which I can now instantly ID and download legitimately.

    That said, I do miss the randomness of crate digging.

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      “It goes like this… untz untz untz”.

    • http://www.mixcloud.com/heartyparty/ heartyparty

      That’s the thing…. it can still be difficult to find out the names of obscure tunes you hear and I’ve spent a fair bit of time ‘virtual digging’ – trying to find that old elusive tune in digital format (and of a decent bitrate!) for download. Best thing is easily being able to listen before you buy, most difficult thing is having so much choice you can easily be overwhelmed…… like finding that one grain of sand on a beach!

  • bbutkizz

    I’m buying downloads like hell and never found it so hard to know what to play next. Was a lot easier to find a song while I was playing vinyl. Now I’m just a ‘playlist’ maker for days that doesn’t make enough out of the created playlists. Very frustrating. I think this might be my last year as a DJ. Since 20 years.

    • stevesweets

      Perhaps you need to buy less. If you’re buying so much you can’t decide what to play, you should only buy stuff you *really* want to play. Move the goalposts.

  • http://www.arkaei.com/ arkaei

    Agree on everything, although I do miss the personal experience of knowing your record dealers, and having a personalized pre-selected crate to dig through each time you visit (“users who bought A also bought B” algorithms? gimme a break). Plus hanging out at a record store all day was awesome despite the occasional fight over a single :)

    Most importantly, however, buying records introduces one crucial element. Tracks aren’t 1.99$, but about ten times that amount for fresh releases and loads more for rarities. That means you automatically put a LOT more thought into your selection, because those 30 tracks will cost you a fortune so you have to decide whether you’re REALLY going to play them to people or not.

    But yeah, I do appreciate the digital age of DJing nonetheless ;)

  • Trond Håland

    I once bought a whole bag of 12″ at Verdes Records in Barcelona. And was treated as a VIP, the clerk brought a ton of records to a back room where a couple of decks and a mixer was set up. Everything sounded great and I was so blown away that I bought close to 60 records. However, after testing most of these live when I returned to Norway, I realised that most of them were useless. At this point I think I have used maximum 10 of them at a regular basis… Worst record buyer ever :-) Love Barcelona though :-)

  • J-Mo

    It was revolutionary for me when I could pre-listen to vinyl releases on a website, place them on hold at the record store and head down and pick them up! On the flip side there is just way too much music being released everyday. Going through 100s of releases all the time can be time consuming as well. Beatport Pro makes it a whole lot easier so I enjoy the experience a bit more these days. But the cost difference? Oh man was that ever expensive back in the day. Especially if you were a bedroom DJ. I remember record shopping in Tokyo while working there for a while. No import taxes on vinyl. Cheapest and best selection I had ever seen! It was vinyl heaven.

  • Manolo Hoozn

    Oh come on. Part of your worst case scenario sounds like you were living in a remote part of Scotland and had to travel to London by horse once in a fortnight :D

    My digging experience was usually like that:
    – Spare time in the afternoon and some spare money left in my pockets.
    – Going to one of the local record stores where they even had a bar, so you could drink beer and have a smoke while digging through the crates.
    – Grabbing a couple of 12″s that I never heard of before, just because I liked the cover or thought the name sounded cool. Or maybe, because it was in one of the crates in the right section of the store.
    – Talking to one of the dealers because all the decks were already in use.
    – Having another beer and listening to the vinyl I chose before. Then the dealer would drop by and ask which of the tracks I liked, only to return a couple of minutes later with another bunch of fresh records.
    – Going home later that afternoon, without money but with a heavy messenger bag.
    – The end.

    In my opinion, the experience was different because you had to work with whatever was given to you. And if you had a stack of records lying right next to the deck, then you would actually listen to every single track, including b-sides.
    Whenever I browse the web, I either keep skipping forward simply because of the vast amount of new stuff, or Im not sure what Im listening to because of 30sec snippets.
    And just like learning to dj with turntables, including beatmatching, it is not so much about the technical skills, but rather about the fact, that youre focusing on two tracks at a time, hence focusing on the music youre actually playing.

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      It was once a month on a donkey. But we were happy. ;)

      • Manolo Hoozn

        Dayum. Sounds like every hipster’s dream =D

  • DJ Kompiler

    On the plus side you did not have 15* more music coming out every day because it was not as accessible. It can be truly gut wrenching to listen to 1000 songs and only like 50 of them.

  • Mr Brown

    The major thing I miss about record shopping (when buy new stuff in particular) is going in to buy ‘X’ record and the guy in the store putting you on to similar stuff you may not know about but as i’m buying ‘X’ I might really like. You still get that to some extent when digging for second hand stuff/breaks/samples etc (if you have good owner) but it’s not the same.

    Mr Bongo was the spot

  • MK

    warped and some skip records are fixable… you just needed to know other diggers to find out the tricks. If the record skips forward, put more weight on the tonearm and backcue through the skip several times, a lot of time it will fix it. Warped record between 2 heavy plates of glass for a couple minutes in the sun, then let it cool for an hour between the glass in the shade.

    Pro tip:
    Blue jeans = record shrink wrap opener.

  • PK

    Digging was definitely a social thing too, meeting new people or going with friends. Also getting that rare piece meant something, today everyone can D/L anything…..alone

  • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

    In those far off times, I happened to have a day job in a factory at one end of a road which had the record shop at the other end – and it wasn’t a major detour to pop in there on the way home, armed with my weekly wages in cash.

    They stocked imports too, had DJs working behind the counter, and a Citronic twin deck console to play the vinyl on. If you were a regular, you were allowed behind the counter to load tracks on the decks yourself.

    You could ask them to put stuff away for you, in your own dedicated cubby hole so there was no risk of things being sold to others before you got there.

    Other DJs hung out there too, so you’d hear what they were buying, which could be useful.

    The tracks were made by musicians signed to labels, in expensive recording studios, so the standard of tracks was generally higher. Now anyone can make a track in minutes with little or no musical knowledge, using just a laptop, hence the quantity has gone up but the quality has gone down.

  • DJ STU-C

    i agree it was a pain in the backside. luckily middlesbrough had 2 very good record shops and even HMV at boro had a massive record section with loads of white labels (something which still amazes me today) or i would have been completely lost. i remember going to a shop in Leeds once whilst out shopping and found the place to be a little clicky and didn’t end up spending long as i didn’t feel massively comfortable. it was in the corn exchange if i remember rightly. whilst i enjoy the browsing on my laptop now i do miss that chance of the track nobody else you know has (in my case i had layo & bushwacka-love story when it was still called untitled and one of the first ever pressings of soul central-strings of life on single sided white label) so whilst i completely agree with everything you have stated there is still a little bit of me that misses digging through racks of records

  • Dancin’ Mark

    Music shopping while less strenuous is no less difficult as there is infinitely more music to search through and listen to or like a teacher to essays “proof read.” I spend hours upon hours looking for what gives me goose bumps. I also respect vinyl DJ’s as I was in those record shops with them during those days as a fan of music. I remember all too well the hard to finds or heard about the store clerk hiding copies for his friends or valued clients.

  • ace

    I loved going to the record shop whenever they got a new shipment in. It was exciting, and also very social. You got a chance to chat to the dj’s playing in different clubs & ended up making new friends. The stock they got was always very limited (South Africa early 90’s), so if you got there late, you got the leftovers. One aspect I really miss from the vinyl days, was the exclusivity that came with it. The record shops seldom brought in more than 4 or 5 copies of each track. White labels….. only one or two copies – those were real gems to get (although they always sounded like crap!) So the chances of the dj doing a set before you, playing half of the tunes in your set was really slim. Now days if you don’t make your own edits & mashups, everyone has what you’ve got. In fact, although you don’t leave home now to get tunes, you spend MUCH more time trying to find good, unique music. I find it’s actually more difficult now.

  • LoopCat

    It sounds like it’s easier to buy wax now with online shops discogs or buying it strait from distributors or the label itself! I think saying that digital sucks is stupid though I definitely agree with that. I still buy some digital music when it’s unavailable on vinyl or a ridiculous price second hand. This weekend I wanted to play a track at my friends place so I bought it analysed it through Rekord box and played it from my usb in less than 10 minutes! The reason I buy wax is I love having a collection of records I can browse through physically and I love mixing with the medium, it just feels fun. As well as this allot of the underground House and Techno coming out is vinyl only and allot of the stuff I play is old school house and techno and that is hard to find WAV format.

  • tim

    I actually have a friend who started djing at the same time as me, and he decided to switch to vinyl. He now has about 300 records 1/3 of his records are vinyl only so this is really nice. But its hard these days. He plays like the indie dance deep house style. For me as an learning dj playing everything from electro to dubstep trap and deephouse i coulnd imagine the steps it would have taken me to get about 1800 records. And this isnt even much as you probably know.. but very good article

    • LoopCat

      If you want to play a really broad range of current popular music its next to impossible to do vinyl only these days.

  • Jeremy

    Of course, there’s no need for vinyl purists to look down their noses at digital djs but as you say in your article, Mark, you’re very much painting a worst-case scenario of record shopping. The flip side to the convenience of buying digital music is that it is a far less engaging experience – it lacks the personal connection to the music and physical interaction with it and the place you bought it from, who you interacted with at the time and that sense of anticipation on your trip to the shop because success wasn’t automatically guaranteed. There are lots of things that have been made more convenient in the 21st century by the internet, but record shopping has lost a big part of its appeal as a trade off for that convenience. I think that’s really what vinyl djs are upset about, it’s just that their anger is misdirected.

  • kebzer

    Amen for this article! As with every other thing coming from the ‘old good days’, record diggin’ has also become sacred, with all sorts of misleading stories and descriptions of ideal situations that never actually occurred.

    And let me tell you why:

    Living in UK was not the same as living in Greece. Even worse, living in Athens, Greece was not even close to living in some remote area (e.g. an island) in Greece. We would always get everything too late, like a year later from its release, too expensive (in the area of 8-10 euros for a 12″) and usually out of a local pressing plant with an absolutely horrible mastering.

    Then, playing such a record was not always the exponentially joyful experience that some describe. You could easily face a needle skip in the middle of a transition, completely destroying your mix and make you look like a clown. Or your crate could accumulate heat from somewhere and warp the shit out of every record you carried with you for that night.

    In the end, we play music for the people. And rightfully they don’t give a shit about our struggle to keep everything in line with a mix. They cannot understand half of what the average DJ does with his equipment and frankly they don’t care, as long as the music is good. So, the digital era has actually helped develop the core essence of this thing, which is open access to good music.

    If someone still wants to play exclusive cuts, he can go make his own. This is the new era of DJing. Like almost 10 years now.

    Enough with the 90’s. In case someone is still living in that loop, they were like 25 years ago. 25 years!

  • Leo

    i don’t agree on the “they can’t be vinyl DJs” now !

    I’m a young DJ, but all i buy is vinyl, online. I don’t have to move to a record shop (none good in my town) and spend a lot of time crate digging, carrying back your records and so on. But i can get the latest hot releases and everything.
    With all the different online records shops, you can get every release, and often pre-order it. They also have great newsletters (like juno) or “News” and “Repress” sections. Plus the ability to get notified when the latest release from that label you like is available. And i’m not even talking about Discogs, where you can get either rare sold-out records or cheap ones..

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      What type of music do you play?

  • Ben23

    The next generation will probably never have the “kid in a sweet shop” moment that I had at the age of 17 when I had built up enough of a rapport/account with my local specialist record shop to be allowed behind the counter on a Saturday to have a rummage for myself. It was the first time I had touched a pair of Technics, and the thrill was as potent as the first touch of a lady’s breasts.

    But, they will probably also never, in their student days, accidentally leave over £100’s worth of vinyl under a table in Burger King… (unsurprisingly, it wasn’t there when I went back). Swings and roundabouts.

    I think the biggest difference, though, is that in vinyl days music had the chance to grow on you. Having spent that much on it, if you got it home and found you didn’t like it, it would sit on your shelf awhile and then some weeks, months or years later you might pull it down and find you did like it after all. In the digital realm, quite apart from the fact that you always listen to it first, if you don’t like it instantly you’re more likely to throw it away immediately. And this has shaped music into something that must be instantly appealing (ideally within 2 minutes in the middle of the track), which has largely killed off subtlety and depth.

    • Stephen Evett

      Sometimes I listen to a track for two weeks brefore I buy it. I at least make sure I listen to it 3 times before I buy it. I a also limit myself to 3 or 4 tunes a week. Doing it this way I guarantee I get tunes that I like and I also don’t miss out on the songs that grow on you. I would say also that there are still songs made with subtlety and depth if you look hard enough.

    • Mark

      Spot on. Agreed.

  • aat83

    i’d say buying mp3’s is nearly every time a soul destroying experience.

  • Mark Cooper

    No more bleeding cuticles! That’s about it for me. Love digital. Love vinyl. I try to embrace the whole thing. There are always things you find on vinyl you don’t or can’t get digitally and vice versa…

    • Brotha Onaci

      Exactly!

  • Steve Luigi

    OK Digital shopping and downloading IS easier and more relevant to todays trends and technology, but what has any digital record shopper got to show for it? In a word a BIG ‘Nothing’. I like to feel that when I pay for something I can actually touch it and hold it, something that is actual, not virtual, and something that I can hold, touch, smell and play forever until or if I decided to sell it. I like to think that my huge record collection was and investment, as indeed it is and further more, something to leave my wife and kids when I depart this world. Indeed my collection at today prices is worth some £50K, I wonder what the same amount of MP3s are worth? Check line 3 :-)

    • ace

      “something I can actually touch…..something that I can hold”
      Hehe – Put your mp3’s on a usb stick and stroke it up & down ;)

      • Steve Luigi

        You really wouldn’t understand :-)

        • Angling-Equipment-Like-Ean

          Vinyl is like sex with a woman you love. Mp3/Controllers is like sex with a plastic doll you love. Both work one but only one is the real deal

  • Mr P

    Who remembers Big apple records in Croydon. Seeing Hatcha, Arther and crew. Those were the days. Had to climb those cramped stairs and knock your head just to go to listen to the tunes on the decks.

  • RDelight

    record shopping was a great experience, i went all over the world with my friends to get the best electro funk, im too lazy to download now..how about that huh? but im not too lazy to do it all over again, well now i order my records. not as satisfying as working for it though.

  • Mark

    I find modern music buying practises also render said music as less valuable, shorter shelf life, etc.
    I haven’t seriously bought or even played vinyl for some time, but fingering through my collection I can still picture every song from the album artwork… MP3’s, I can’t remember what half of them even are… “is this the song I like?” – much more disposable. I have less of a bond with digital formats, over physical formats.

    Don’t get me wrong, I now almost strictly buy MP3’s and CD’s due to the ease in which they’re available, as well as the price – but it’s just not the same experience as it once was.
    I used to LOVE record shop visits. Chatting with the staff, other DJ’s, FINDING new music, hearing about new music, often buying rubbish – but so often buying awesome records that I still own and love today.

    Not so sure people will look back all nostalgic about their days shopping on iTunes.

    • Mark

      Also, very sad to note that all of those record stores I used to love, and made up an awesome time in my life – are now closed.

  • DJ SONAR

    I don’t get your argument. Vinyl can still be purchased online. We can have both the convenience of buying the hottest tracks from our couches, AND the tangible record collection that we all desire.

  • Kahnstantine

    I’ve gotten over the “physical’ “personal” aspect of record buying/crate-digging. In some instances I think you can overrate music due to the time spent digging for it, carrying it home on the train, etc. Also, just to play devil’s advocate, shouldn’t the connection be, most importantly, to the music itself? I don’t think digital music availability has made music more disposable, I think the industry and artists themselves have done more toward that end.
    I used to be the Luddite that swore I’d never go digital, but I wish I’d done it sooner. My nostalgia for record shopping is more a function of the sounds, sights, and smells of the shops, the negotiating, the long walks and train rides that had nothing really to do with the music on the vinyl. Going digital has made me a more diverse, responsive, and crafty DJ. A better DJ, with more flexibility, creativity and practical experience with different genres.
    Just my experience. I’ll never give up the 1200s tho.

  • PJ Villaflor

    Sometimes they’re not going to speak up, but there are those who lived years through the years of vinyl and hated record shopping. Not everyone likes it, and those guys appreciate the digital media today. Some people just hate shopping in general, and too many DJs are afraid to speak up and pretend they loved it because fear of ridicule from their gigless vinyl purist peers.

  • http://www.d-jam.com D-Jam

    Frankly, I love that I don’t have to race to the local shop on a Thursday or Friday night in the hope of landing some cool new tunes. I like how I get emails from my favorite online shops with a list of new stuff to check out (based on who I “follow”) and thus I add to cart (or hold bin) to purchase later.

    I like that I’m seeing more classics come back digitally, so I’m not scrounging all over praying to find something rare. I just don’t miss record shopping, and love the ease of online…especially when you want to shop on off-hours when stores are closed.

  • GARC

    I used to love record shopping but my life had very few real commitments back then. As I am not really a professional DJ (7-10 gigs per year), I don’t mind heavy vinyl as I don’t have to worry about moving it (often).

    I tried digital downloads, DVS and controllers but couldn’t get into it despite the many advantages. Now some of the better shops have online listening and you can order a physical 12″ without leaving the house. Recently I picked a bunch of records from a London record shop’s website. I was in the city following week, gave the guy my list and listened to them again at the listening post. It was like the old days but without the frustration. The feeling of going home with a small stack under my arm for the first time in years was lovely.

    Discogs is great for the older stuff and you can audition them on youtube. The price / quality issue is still a problem but I am more selective now and would rather 100 great tracks than 100,000 decent tracks. I also don’t care about having the newest stuff. Good music is timeless and its how you play that counts.

    For me the feel and smell are all part of the ritual and it brings me back to the days when I first started. Digital is what it is. I think it is great but only use it as much as I need it to make my like a bit easier. I will never be fully digital, not because I am a luddite, but because I was a teenager of the 90s.

  • Pingback: Friday Roundup: How To Find A DJ Name That Isn't Taken (Probably!)()

  • White Wulfe

    While in the past it was… interesting to experience the whole crate digging bit, I’ve found a great deal more enjoyment out of using services such as Beatport, simply because there are no stocking issues, it’s “easier” to find what I’m looking for, and it’s in the comfort of my own home. I don’t own a vehicle, so getting around was always a potential problem with crate digging.

  • richard vreede

    hehe, i have to agree. In the netherlands you everywhere can by techno and house records, but new or second hand records you really have to import from germany for standard turnablism vinyl , with a huge difference when looking at the quality. I bought a new wu-tang record a couple of months ago, but the press was superthin at hhv.de and looking at the dvs presses: you can say what you want, but a major plus is the good quality of the records and playing dvs, soundquality ain’t real imporant to me. And you don’t need two records. But it’s easier then analogue offcourse with setting some cue points, but then again you have much more time to use effects and more creative mixing, scratching, which is for peoples, like the neighbours less anoying to listen to.

    Analogue scratching on a beat with, well, let’s a standard qbert sample record, can be annoying if you ain’t in the scene. But scratching is just easier, just like beatmatching. But to learn to get the feeling, i think beginning with dvs can give an advantage . The soundquality can’t compare with a good analogue deck. If you want that also on a good level. , your cdj and especially the mixer is gonna cost you a lot of money. That’s why they only say the brandname of the converters like burr-brown , which absolutely doesn’t mean a thing , besides that burr brown doesn’t excists anymore.
    A good sounding cd player is 1500 euro, average price , cdj or sc-3900 all have budget components and often cheapass pots and capacitors, nothing high grade about dj-gear… some eclers and rodec are good, .but technics tt also have max average components , just like vestax. They don’t differ a lot.
    oems are besides the real cheap caps not built way less then vetax or technics looking at the pcb quality and resistors…..vestax has the best pcb’s

  • Shaun Whitcher

    Great article Mark! I think you nailed all the key points. I bought my first record in 1993 and experienced everything you pointed out. From long bus rides to the city, to digging for hours and going home empty handed, or worse, settling for a sub-par track just to go home with something.

    In Seattle, prices for imports from the UK ranged between $10-$12 each and domestics ranged between $5-$6. I had to save money to go record shopping back then. When 10 imported track could potentially cost you $100, you had to be damn sure you liked those tracks. I used to judge what I spent my money on in terms of how many records I could buy. It went something like this, “Yep, ramen noddles again tonight. That $20 I could spend eating out isn’t worth the records I might score tomorrow.” A quick word of caution for those new to vinyl buying, never go record shopping directly after raving all night. You’ll come home with a bunch of “what the hell was I thinking” tracks, seriously.

    After years of brutally fun record store digging, I scored a job at a record store in Seattle called Platinum Records, were I worked for almost 5 years before getting hired at Rane. At the time, Platinum was the epicenter for the entire underground music scene in Seattle. I met tons of fellow DJs, promoters and music lovers of all kinds. It was great to be a part of that community and seeing everyone on a regular basis. *Full full disclosure time: everything you suspected record store employees do is true. There are “secret” piles of records stashed behind the counter and sometimes a record is so good, they only order enough to give to their closest friends. All the rumors are true, sorry.

    Having seen the demise of record stores first hand and the rise of online MP3 shopping, the biggest difference I see, besides the insane amount of new music each week, is how disposable tracks are these days. At a $1+ a pop, you can buy something, like it for a week and then delete it the next week without a second thought. There’s just so much new music out there it’s easy to get caught in the “I played this track out last week, I can’t play it again this week.” mentality.

    The purist vs digital DJ vibe seems to be growing here in Seattle, too. In my opinion, whatever medium you use (vinyl, CDs, MP3s, all the above), as long as you’re having a good time and everybody is dancing and vibing, it really doesn’t matter. Have fun doing what you do and how you do it and let others do the same :)

  • Pingback: X-ray dub plates — the ultimate picture disk | Sunnylicious()

  • teknik1200

    I liked the limited aspect, there’s plenty of great music to go around, the djs that know find the goods and it’s nice when folks are not playing all the same stuff.

  • Ivory Samoan

    I have been DJing since 1999, and I would never go back to the old way… sure, it was romantic and stuff; but practical? HELL NO.

    Give me 320kbps and a Kool Aid and I’m happy.

  • Ivory Samoan

    ….and to add to that, in NZ we were paying $20 a single, $35 a full album… factor in inflation, and you had to stick to one genre just to clear a profit!