Where Everybody Knew Your Name

By Tony Fernandez:

In the seemingly never-ending social media debate of Digital vs Vinyl, you hear the same points brought up time after time…

Vinyl is better

Digital is better

Record crates suck (this is actually true…)

Vinyl sounds warmer

Digital sounds cleaner

Vinyl made selection a skill

Digital made selection ubiquitous

Blah, blah, blah….

But the query that inspired me to put these words down was this: To what extent do you miss the social interaction with music /record store employees (who were usually fellow music lovers and/or DJs) that was inherent in buying vinyl records vs the isolated process of digital downloads?

I have to admit when I think about it I do miss that aspect of the vinyl world.

Going to record stores for me was an adventure. I was lucky enough to do a little bit of traveling and I would always check out the local record shops when I would be in a new town. It never failed that I would find some diamond in the rough that was overlooked by everyone else.

It was like a secret society. Once people knew you were a DJ and became a “regular”, things opened up. People treated you nicer and would grant you access to areas of the store the general public didn’t have. They would show you the under the counter stuff or the back room stuff.   Getting access to promo releases and white label prints on a retail level was not an easy feat. I’m glad to say I was able to cultivate a nice circle of stores where I could find some really choice pieces of wax.

And honestly, the people the worked there, the managers and the owners, they were really about the music. And that’s the part that was cool. It was like walking into the Cheer’s Bar, the people there would know who you were, be happy to see you and just catch up. I’m pretty sure to some I was just another customer, and that was OK. But by and large, everyone I met at the record store was very cool and always willing to help you in the task of finding the unique piece.

It was all about the journey. Making road trips to certain record stores because you were either going to play there that night or you just wanted to make a road trip and eat at that local restaurant. One thing for certain, the trip was not going to be in vain. You’d either come back with awesome tunes, a great meal or both.

I love playing “records”. But I still use SSL. I don’t miss lugging 40 lb crates loaded with vinyl. I don’t really miss the act of digging in the crates. I still do that in the digital space now. Not the same, but the results are the same. I do miss making those road trips and being a vinyl Indiana Jones. Nothing really beat having that piece of wax in your hand, placing it on the platter, dropping the track and having your friends ask, where did you find that?

My answer was always the same… don’t worry about it, it doesn’t matter, I got the last one.

Keep ‘em spinning.

Based out of Richmond, VA, DJ Tony Fernandez has been a DJ, Remixer, Producer, Musical Soothsayer and Audio Gear Oracle since 1980. Find him on facebook. Email djtonytf@gmail.com

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