By Reed Fischer
flickr/Alexandre Normand Don't make listening to music any harder than it already is.
Love listening to music, but hate all the time and effort it takes to pick out something you like? Good news! There's a burgeoning industry of vinyl subscription services, what they like to call "Netflix for record lovers," making the rounds.
The formerly arduous process of developing personal music taste -- going to record stores, skimming Pitchfork reviews, consulting with friends, attending shows, etc. -- now has been simplified in a way even Pandora can't compete with. And it's analog, baby.
Decades ago, owning an album required leaving your house and sometimes driving dozens (!) of miles to a record store. There, you'd have hundreds -- maybe even thousands! -- of titles to choose from. If more than one album cover enticed you, you might have to ask the store's employees some questions. What a bore.
flickr/nanpalmero Get your tunes almost without lifting a finger.
Things got a little better with the invention of the web. No longer would it be essential to leave home and put money into the local economy to obtain music, but then there were even more choices at our fingertips. Who wants to clog their schedule reading about artists and streaming songs to find something listenable? Uh, not us.
That's why services like VYNL and Vinyl Me, Please are here just in the nick of time. For between $12 and $27 per month, you can take nearly all of the guesswork, effort, and individuality out of your record collection. (Jack White's Third Man Records' Vault also offers a subscription service, but it's far too specific for serious consideration here.) Why take the word of any number of record critics that the War on Drugs' Lost in the Dream is worth owning, when a package that might contain it can show up at your door or place of work?
Still, these services aren't perfect. The main flaws:
Packages Require Extra Time for Opening
With a sharp knife or scissors you can speed up the process.
Records Need Protective Cardboard Sleeves
Vinyl is delicate and prone to scratches, so allow extra time for taking the platter in and out of its sleeve.
Only Half of the Music Plays on Each Side
Standing up every 15 to 25 minutes to flip the record is a likelihood. An easy fix: position the record player within arm's reach of your bed.
In actuality, comparing these vinyl subscription services to Netflix is not entirely accurate. They're way easier! It's understandable that upstart companies want to circulate search-friendly catch phrases for bloggers to pass off as their own ideas in puff pieces, but don't get it twisted.
Netflix requires the user to type in search terms, scroll through, and commit to a personal decision. (Don't even get us started on their DVD service.) No one has time for that. The most a vinyl subscription service asks is for a choice of "vibe," like #betweenthesheets or #lazysaturday. If only we could just pick #doitallformealready, nahmean?
"[The inspiration for VNYL] was taking some of the best parts of Beats, Spotify, and SoundCloud and translating them into a tangible experience," VNYL founder Nick Alt said in a recent interview. We assume that those are websites that require a lot of browsing and uncertainty. Thanks, Nick Alt!
Like a Wine of the Month, Cheese of the Month, or Hot Sauce of the Month club, all that's required to be a part of a vinyl subscription club is for a relative of yours -- preferably someone you never have to visit -- to click a mouse a dozen or so times. The packages will start rolling in. And who doesn't love getting packages?
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