VNYL: A millenial spin on vinyl

mmm, Tidal, you might want to get some ICE for that BURN!

Vinyl is hot these days. VNYL is trying to take advantage of that.

Vinyl sales were up 52 percent in 2014, making up 9.2 percent of total album sales, its highest number in decades. Now, however, you don’t even have to buy the albums to enjoy vinyl.

At least that’s the service VNYL is trying to provide. With a monthly subscription plan that has been compared to Netflix, VNYL will send you three albums, based on a #vibe you select. (For those with an early access code, at least, VNYL says you get to #keepem, rather than #returnem, like it is expected to work).

Right now, the service is only available to those with a code. Luckily, I signed up months ago to receive #mycode as soon as I could. And today was my lucky day.

I got #mycode (it’s branded as #yourcode, but it is most certainly #mycode. Hands off!) and instantly knew I had to see what this was all about.

From the get go, it’s hard not to be impressed with the design of the website. It’s very clean, sleek and modern — basically what you need to compete these days. As soon as you get there you’re prompted to enter #yourcode. For the lucky few (or 742, if my order number is accurate), you’re whooshed into a sign-up screen.

After entering all the typical mundane-but-mandatory information, it asks you to connect your music-streaming accounts. I only use Spotify regularly, but there are additional slots for Rdio, SoundCloud, Last.fm and Discogs. VNYL says their “curators” use these to help personalize the three albums you’ll get each month.

But the biggest factor in the algorithm is the #vibe you choose. Before I signed up, I had the impression there would dozens of #vibes to choose from. Nope. You get six. Six incredibly vague hashtags that leave you wondering what you’re spending $228 a year or $24 a month for.

Between #work, #lazysaturday, #dinnerparty, #danceparty, #cooking and #betweenthesheets, I chose #dinnerparty, because how can you screw up music for food?

But herein lies the issue: am I paying to get vinyl I know I’m going to enjoy, or am I paying to discover new material? What kind of dinner party does this VNYL curator take part in? Is he or she a “cook bacon with their shirt off” type of dinner partier or a “pairs their wine with everything” type of dinner partier? Fingers crossed, it’s in the middle.

VNYL isn’t too clear about the end goal here, except, literally to get vinyl. No complaints about that. But I’m interested to see how VNYL’s curators balance what they consider #dinnerparty music and what they find on my (hopefully very informative) Spotify profile.

Either way, I’m intrigued. Getting LPs delivered to my doorstep (in three to five business days), random or not, seems like a hell of a deal for $24 a month. Plus, if you want to buy new vinyl, it offers you an option of about a dozen “staff picks” at a slight discount.

I opted for the month-to-month service, rather than the $228 commitment for the year. I don’t have any trees, and if I did, money surely wouldn’t be growing on them. But if you do, and it is, VNYL seems like a great place to throw some of that environment-friendly cash.

Follow Evan Webeck on Twitter.