Vinyl Me, Please: A Record Club for the Vinyl Renaissance

Vinyl Me, Pleasebills itself as the “best damn record club out there.” Vinyl, Me Please sends each of its over 2,000 subscribers a single curated record each month—everything from Thelonious Monk to the War on Drug’s latest album.  We talked to co-founders Tyler Barstow and Matt Fiedler about how they’re repurposing CD clubs for the vinyl renaissance.

Vinyl Me, Please delivers a new record to subscribers’ doors each month.

I read Vinyl Me, Please started when Matt got a record player, but didn’t have a lot of records to play. Talk a little bit about Vinyl Me, Please’s origin story—how it came about.
Matt: I got my dad’s record player for Christmas one year…. [Tyler and I] were trying to get into collecting records but didn’t really know where to start.  We found the experience kind of stressful and overwhelming for us. We reminisced about the CD clubs, like the CD Baby—get 10 records, 10 CDs for three in the early 90s. We wondered why those didn’t exist today, especially given the big resurgence in vinyl.  To make a long story short, we weren’t able to find answers so we decided to make our own.
What did the vinyl club look like in its first iteration?
Matt: At first, it was a simple record of the month.  We just picked something that we liked and something we thought other people would like. Originally, we had every customer connected to a personal media stylist, where they were getting custom-made and custom-curated playlists for them every month based on their individual taste.
What we found through doing those playlists is that people didn’t really know what they wanted, and if they had known what they wanted, they would have just done it themselves. So, they were looking for us to tell them what to listen to. It originally started out as one thing and it shifted into this idea of a Trunk Club for music.
What seems appealing to me about Vinyl Me, Please is that it’s a slower pace than music often is these days. There’s no scouring music blogs or looking out for leaked albums. Do people respond to the slower nature of one record per month?
Matt: Totally, yes. With Spotify…and iTunes and all that, you got a billion songs at your fingertips. But it’s super hard to sift through all of that because there’s so much noise, literally…. It’s overwhelming.
What’s the process for choosing the record each month?
Tyler: The core criteria for us is that it’s really good beginning to end. We like the fact that people have to sit down and listen to this one thing. Every month, we sit down and choose a different genre…. If we went through our catalog right now, most of the stuff would have come out in the past two years. We’re starting to run more reissues. We ran a Theolonious Monk record last December…. We’re starting to explore back catalog stuff a lot more.
What are the next steps for Vinyl Me, Please?
Matt: [We want to continue] to enhance the experience around a particular record or just music in general…. One thing we just launched is a members’ only store. A lot of people ask for access to our back catalog of records. We did a survey a couple weeks ago and the result was that people wanted to buy more records from us—which is a great problem to have. What we launched in response is a curate store.
What do you have on your record players right now?
Tyler: I listen to a lot of Chance the Rapper. I’m always listening to that. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Banks.
Matt: I’ve been listening to the War on Drugsrecord a lot lately. We just came out with it as our August record of the month, and it’s amazing. And also the upcoming Perfume Genius record is really good.
Q&As are edited for clarity and length. 

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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