The Magic of Vinyl

Words: Alex Herrmann
Photo: Lauren Gesswein/Red Bull Content Pool

Record label and magazine founders explain why they still care about vinyl.

If you love records, you really love records — there’s no such thing as a casual fan of vinyl. And when you’re a record head, you’re always down to talk about it. April 16 is Record Store Day, so we spoke to Flood Magazine’s Alan Sartirana, Greenroom Magazine’s Jake Heinitz and Totally Gross National Product’s Drew Christopherson about why they love having albums on wax.

THE RED BULLETIN: Why do you buy music on vinyl?

JAKE HEINITZ: I buy vinyl because of the vibes, mannn!

DREW CHRISTOPHERSON: It stores nicely, looks good on a shelf, and gives you large format artwork. Never mind the fact that it sounds great.

When you walk into a record store, what’s the first thing you look for?

ALAN SARTIRANA: It depends on what I’m there for. There are times where I’ll dig through for old 45s with a specific thing in mind. Otherwise, I’ll just flip through new releases and find more than enough to spend way too much money on. A good record store will have a set up to listen to vinyl and a knowledgable enough staff to convince you to buy at least five things you hadn’t planned on buying.

HEINITZ: The first thing I look for is Gil Scott Heron - do you have it? I want it, and I want it all. But generally the Gil supply is low, so I look for gnarly cover art and honest eyes.  

How does a physical copy impact your relationship with an album?

CHRISTOPHERSON: It usually means I will listen to, or at least think about, the record for the rest of my life. My digital collection comes and goes, especially with streaming services. There is a sort of object permanence thing going on with digital collections vs vinyl collections.  It’s fun to be reminded of a record as you flip through it. 

HEINITZ: Have you ever ridden the groove? Because if you know, then you know — once you go wax, you never go… bax?

Is there a market for record stores in the digital era?

SARTIRANA: Absolutely. It is the exception versus the rule, but it’s like a good book store with a staff that knows and loves books. Record shopping is a ritual that takes you through a shared experience with those working and shopping alongside you at the store. I’ll never forget working at Mod Lang in Berkely in the ’90s, being the guy behind the counter who would recommend 10 new things to a customer, and having them come back a week later to ask me what else they should buy if they liked albums X, Y and Z that I recommended. 

HEINITZ: As long as $5 pour-over coffees exist, there will always be a market for vinyl.

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