You don’t need me to tell you that vinyl is back. It’s everywhere. From Wal-Mart to tax commercials it’s hard to miss the vinyl resurgence. Everyone that you know is getting a turntable. I mean everyone. Once you’re over that, it’s time to think about what kind of record collector you are. Are you only interested in getting all your favorites or do you plan to devote your whole basement to your new hobby? Here are some of the record collector types I’ve observed in my short time collecting.
The Lifer: Lifers never stopped collecting vinyl and have a section of their homes dedicated to what they’ve accumulated. Lifers are the most skilled crate diggers on earth, able to smell a rare copy of The White Album a mile away. They schedule their lives around garage sales, flea markets, and Craigslist ads. They know what just about everything is worth, which gives them a leg up when shopping. They’ll find that gem in their buddy’s Grandma’s basement for $2 and sell it for $200. They love music, but they love the hunt even more. I’m not a Lifer, but they are fascinating to watch in the wild.
The Obsessive: Obsessive record collectors own just about everything they can get find that is enjoyable or collectable. This type of collector not only has more albums than they know what to do with, but they also can’t pass up a re-issue of an album they already own. They can’t pass up anything actually, and restraint is NOT buying records each and every day. An obsessive’s collection is about 20–30% items they’ve yet even to unwrap. I’m not an obsessive, but they influence me. I think to myself, “well at least I don’t own THAT much, I can justify these purchases.” I love obsessive collectors, but don’t want to be one.
The Completist: I’m a bit of a completist. I have a handful of artists that I “need” to own every item from their catalog, and maybe even every side project or guest appearance as well. For me, this dates back to sports card collecting as a kid and the need to complete the set for a season or my favorite team. Yes, I do need every release from Wilco, including re-issues that only vary in the color of wax they’re printed on.
The Audiophile: You know this guy. He’s got the best system around, and only listens and buys the most pristine pressings of every album. He’s also obsessed with who pressed an album and if it was mastered digitally or analog. (I’m caring about this more and more.) He’s able to pinpoint who played on what album and will lecture you on why 180-gram albums are overrated. And he probably has a stack of 78s to boot. I sort of want to be this guy but have no self-restraint.
The Casual Collector: This is the average collector. They buy up a handful of favorites when they start collecting and add 3–5 titles per year, some new, some old. This person is also probably the sanest of the bunch. I pretend to be this person several times a year, but can rarely pull it off. Boring!
The Limited Edition Collector: There was a time when I was attempting to run for president of this group. This group of collectors buys whatever is “limited to” or “hand numbered” or “pressed on cotton candy splattered, translucent, 200-gram vinyl”. (Some of you just got excited.) Like completists, there is no consideration given to the number of copies already owned of an album, as long as it’s a version they don’t already have. This is a sickness from which I’m currently recovering.
The Nostalgist: Nostalgists are coming out of the woodwork right now. They are buying their first record player ever or getting back in the game after riding the CD wave for decades. Nostalgists only buy the hits or their favorite albums from the past. They don’t care about colored vinyl or numbered copies; they just want that copy of Rumors to toss on the table whenever they feel the need.
Chances are, if you’re a collector, you’re a hybrid of a few of these. And there are plenty of other categories you could create as well to add to this list. What type of record collector are you?