Why Collect Records? An extract from Kevin M. Moist’s “Record Collecting As Cultural Anthropology”


From The Vinyl Factory:

There are many reasons for collecting recorded music, both by individuals and institutions, and various situations in which that collecting takes place. Sociologist Roy Shuker described a wide range of them in Wax Trash and Vinyl Treasures: Record Collecting as a Social Practice, and I won’t try to list them all here. He noted one thing they mostly have in common: Whereas collecting many types of objects involves setting them aside and removing them from regular use, records by necessity “retain a strong element of use value – people will play them,” because that is the only way to experience their contents.

I have heard tales of extreme record collectors whose new acquisitions are immediately sealed hermetically and hidden away in light-and temperature-controlled vaults; however, no one I know seems to have actually met such a character. Collectors, in my experience, generally love to share what they find, with friends via listening sessions or by swapping mixes, or more publicly as DJs or music writers. They would agree with rock musician Jeff Connolly that the whole point is “using the music”: “There is no joy in ownership,” he said. “The joy comes when you play the record.” Music critic Simon Reynolds described his collection as “material with use value, whether that was pleasure or research.”

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