OK I admit it, i’m an addict. I desire shiny discs of plastic; black, coloured, splattered, blobbed, shaped or picture, well, maybe not so much picture discs. But I can’t stop myself buying records, and ordering records for my collection, and to see it expand almost by magic on a monthly basis. I know it’s not magic, I understand why this thing has and is happening to me, and to many, many other people around the world. Lockdown hasn’t helped one iota, and I’ll tell you why, in my mind anyway.
The weather was great, but we couldn’t go anywhere, I was on full pay and with precious little to do as I work outside, the weather was great and we had a chair I could sit in outside the front door in the sun after I logged on at work, popping in on occasion to press the return key or wake up the mouse, and for 3 months pretty much everyone with my job title was doing the same. The fine spring weather helped of course, but the isolation didn’t. Mrs T was full time working from home, glued to the laptop and I was sat there twiddling my thumbs and, heres the big one, getting involved in Twitter. Morning walks with M,N and C had all but stopped and so my drug was Twitter having given up FB due to, well, just the fucking state of it.
With Twitter came the fine tuning of my account so as to reduce the chaff from the corn and leave my self with a jolly fine bunch of musicians, music producers, record labels and plain old music fans, a vast experience of musical experience stretching back decades and in turn spanning thousands of years if you add everyones ages up. The recommendations, hints and tips from people and algorithms came thick and fast and soon I found myself having to limit my interests and confine myself to a few genres, a small number of record labels. But the buying continued, I stationed myself outside in the spring sunshine, coffee in hand around 11am to intercept the postie in a kind of clandestine dance, involving hand signals and suggestions as to where he place the post so as I can filter it before sneaking it inside . When Lockdown broke slightly in the summer, I would on occasion drive around the village at Postie time trying to intercept him en route thereby getting the circular 12′ bounty in the car before I got a rollicking when I returned home after work.
As the time passed, “the fear of missing out” which I was taught back in the 90’s as a door to door salesman, intensified. The increasing number of limited edition records grew, I guess the artists had a lot of time on their hands, and over these last 18 months I wouldn’t like to count the number of records I’ve bought. My tape selection is almost too big for my shelves now. So I’ve become a slave to shiny things, all things circular and vinyl like a musical magpie, but not like the shop of the same name. For christ sake last week I nearly bought a beautiful wooden box with a USB memory stick inside full of music, I think this was a limited edition of 5. It might be worth something, but I would never sell it so what does it matter what it’s worth going forward?
Bandcamp friday is a real sticking point for many I know, its a time when Bandcamp doesn’t take a fee for selling the artists music and so the artist gets much more of the money paid out by the punters, but as the clock turns to 8am which is when the shop opens, it’s a wild free for all, with folk snapping up whatever they can. It’s like going to the supermarket without a shopping list and with your children; you’ve an idea of a few things which you need but the rest is chosen with a mixture of preventative measures to keep the kids quiet and the attraction of certain sparkling packaging. I’m a sucker for nice looking stuff. And that’s what gets you into this crazy place.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Bandcamp and I love all the artists whom I follow, occasionally speak to and often buy music from. I love the ethos of the musicians, of the record labels and of the fans who tip each other off when folk are buying limited edition records and putting them straight onto eBay and Discogs to make a quick profit at the expense of the real fans who may have overslept or who may have been drunk. These “Flippers” are a real problem to the fans and the record labels don’t have to care, but they do and this is what I mean when I speak of the wonderful community of folk I have met over lockdown online.
Whats the solution? Well I think thats pretty easy to say. The solution is to stop buying records and music, but then I’d just sink myself into something else. I’ve managed to give up smoking via vaping through lockdown, realising the ridiculousness of puffing on melon and strawberry mechanical contraptions; the “Childrenisation” of smoking, like the alcohol revolution of the late 80’s early 90’s which has never stopped. I’ve been collecting music since I was about 10 or so, some of the early stuff is pretty poor, but it charts a history of me in 49 and a half annual chapters thus far. So I think, my friends and dear readers, that this will probably go on for a long time or ever and ever but hopefully, with the opening up of the country and other countries due to the global vaccination programme, I will probably have less time on my hands to be scrolling through Twitter… Or maybe I’ll just get slicker at it.