It’s easy to think of Vinyl Me, Please as the modern equivalent of the BMG or Columbia record services you scam when you were a kid. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. You think you “Get 12 free CDs for a penny,” but end up having to buy seven more CDs for $20 that you know you can’t afford. Except you never paid them back and just hoped that your credit rating at 15 would be expunged when you turned of legal age.
Vinyl Me, Please is nothing like that. Rather than ship you a random record every month based on kickbacks from major labels, VMP works with bands and labels to create limited editions of records that have either long been out of print or needed to be resurrected for a modern audience. I signed up after a few months of hemming and hawing when I saw that Wilco’s “A.M.” was being released in August 2015. I plunked down my $27 (monthly, recurring fee) and a few weeks later I got a shiny new record delivered in a solid mailer with no dings or dents on the sleeve (a huge pet peeve of mine). Inside was a white outer sleeve that included a cocktail-of-the-month (ideal for Mai Tai T.V.), a 12×12 art print inspired by the album (with a short story about the band on the flip side) and an orange-colored 180 gram pressing of the album in a shiny new sleeve.
The mesmerizing smell of new vinyl
I had never heard Wilco before, but I truly enjoyed the record after a few listens. The packaging and quality or vinyl made it well worth $27, especially since most new records hover between the $20–30 mark. VMP claims it curates the best vinyl from around the world to help broaden your musical horizon. Per the VMP website: “We’re just here to help you explore the best of what’s around these days and discover some classics you may not know…we can’t promise anything more than that every record you receive from us will be well worth your time and attention. We know both are valuable, so we won’t send you anything we don’t 100% believe in.”
I honestly believe they believe what they are saying. The mix of styles and sounds that I received over the past year and a half have run the gamut of music and have helped broaden my musical tastes. I admit that I am trapped in the 1990s punk sound and that’s all I listen too, but I always like to try something new and, more often that not, VMP has helped me discover many new artists or classic records. Gems that I received in the past year include Weezer’s “Pinkerton,” Nada Surf’s “High/Low,” Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and Nina Simone’s “Nina Simone Sings the Blues.”
I would love to sit down with whoever is in charge of choosing the monthly record and negotiating the deals and pick his or her brain. I can only imagine the challenge of A. finding a perfect record every month that everyone will love, B. getting the legal sign-off to produce the record, and C. actually pressing the record and creating the quality packaging that goes into every VMP release. It’s insane when you think about it, but it’s clearly working for VMP.
The occasional clunker
So what’s the downside? Two things stand out in my mind, but none have pushed me to consider cancelling. First is the obvious concern. What if I don’t like the album? Look, it has definitely happened. Of the 18 albums I’ve received to date, three have left me wanting to turn off the record player halfway through, including last month’s painful Panda Bear “Person Pitch.” Look, I know personal tastes are personal tastes, but that record made me want to hurt things (even though I loved the colored vinyl). I actually want that hour of my life back that I spent listening to that record. Yes, the club recently added swapping to some of their tiered plans that allows you to swap a new album for an older record in the archive. Three-month plan members save two dollars a month and get one record swap; annual plan members save four dollars a month and get four swaps. Perhaps VMP should take a cue from Bespoke Post and let customers skip a month all together if they know they won’t love the record or already own it.
Additional perks & George’s VMP short list
VMP also has some additional perks. Members get access to an online store that has even more limited run records. Every month, the store reopens with an entirely different collection. This is perfect for rounding out your collection or adding a few albums that are more suited to your likes. You also get a very well-written weekly newsletter that offers great insights into the wider music world and vinyl collecting.
Real talk: I think Vinyl Me, Please is an excellent service that is perfect for anyone that truly wants to experience quality music and loves vinyl. If your answer to the question, “What’s your favorite genre of music or band?” is “I like all music” and then just turn on Z-100, then this service is probably not for you. If you look forward to going to your local record store every week to hear new music and regularly ask the guy or gal behind the counter to recommend something for you to listen to, then VMP is definitely for you.
Finally, here’s my short list of records that Vinyl Me, Please needs to put out in the coming months that I guarantee will appeal to everyone (except maybe Danzig):
- Tricky “Pre-Millenium Tension”
- Queens of the Stone Age “Songs for the Deaf”
- The Singles Soundtrack
- Clutch “Clutch”
- AFI “Sing the Sorrow”
- American Lesion “American Lesion”
- Danzig “Lucifage”