How the fire crackles

An assortment of Jake Prewett's many records he has collected over the years.

By Luke Smith

The relationship between a record collector and their collection is sacred.

Whether they began collecting at a young age or just recently, a collection of records can mean something different to each listener who collects. “When you hear it, it just sounds like a fire crackling, and it’s just always warm,” says Nick Maturo, a record collector who has been collecting since 2013. Since he began, his collection has grown to having boxes full of records.

“All I wanted was like some Marvin Gaye records’” says Maturo. “Because I was like, really diving deep into Marvin Gaye and just loved everything he had. So, I got a three of those for Christmas.”

Notable record selections from Nick Maturo’s Collection. (Photo by Luke Smith)

While he’s been collecting for almost 10 years, Maturo does not look at collecting as a hobby. “It’s just more I like supporting music, so much. So that I’m gonna buy this person’s record. And on top of it, I can always have this record because there have been albums on streaming platforms.”

After situations like Neil Young and other artists removing their music from Spotify, This seems like something that has become more and more the case. It’s part of what makes collecting vinyl so special. Being able to own a piece of music that once produced can’t be changed.1

For Maturo, it wasn’t just about collecting as many records as he could but collecting records that he could feel attached too. He worries less about how much they cost and more about getting his hands on that specific album “I spent too much money one time on a record that I found in stores later brand new for $26. And I was like wow, I spent over $100 on this, this is bs.” Maturo continues, “But at the same time, I’m like, it was worth it. Because when I discovered this piece of music, I’m like, oh man, I need this. I don’t care if I have the money.

The feeling of attachment goes for many collectors. But for some, they don’t want to spend so much money on a record. This includes casual collector Kira Clark, who began her collection in Middle School. “It’s definitely more of an investment than like getting an online copy.”

Clark’s father got her into older music and records at a young age, but she didn’t pick it up until 2013 after the Arctic Monkeys released their album AM.

“When I look back at all my records,” Clark says, “it’s just me looking back through all these different phases of which music was so important to me that I went out of my way to get a record, like the Arctic Monkeys in middle school, and then Alt-J in the beginning of high school”

Clark’s collection consists of mostly Indie artists but also some classic acts like Beatles and ABBA. “I really like all the old Arctic Monkeys ones I have because they’re all beat up and they just remind me how much I listen to them in middle school. I have all of ABBA Gold. I think that’s pretty impressive. I got the new Mitski vinyl at a pop up and it’s special edition.”

Both Maturo and Clark share that they get excited for finding physical copies of a record they like that has something unique about it. But for some, it’s not about the color or style the record was pressed in, but its what time has done to the record.

Jake Prewett on the has been collecting for four years however his collection is massive. “I probably have about four to five crates of records right now; my housemate probably has three or four himself as well. So, we’ve probably got about eight or nine crates, which is just stupid, but it’s also fantastic.”

Prewett’s record collection set-up in his living room (Photo by Jake Prewett)

But for Prewett, it’s not about the quantity of records he owns, but more about the background that comes with the record both from the quality of the album but also what the journey the record has taken. “The biggest intrigue for me as a record collector is kind of the historical portion of it. I love getting old records I think there’s something really special about having like a first pressing of a record that was pressed, you know, in a certain time in a certain way.”

Prewett even points out how the COVID pandemic has shined a light on the system in which the music industry has been operating. “Everyone is willing to accept this model of the streaming service” Prewett says. “And there are only other real options for making money are touring and merch. I think that if you had the ability to press your own records, if you had more of an accessibility to that market to that sort of type of media, it totally changes the power dynamic within the music industry.”

The demand for records continues to soar but according to Record Industry, a record pressing plant in the Netherlands, the sale of records is up but the production of records is falling behind.

The record collecting scene is full of numerous preferences, but what remains consistent with each collector is their love for owning an artist’s physical piece of work. Prewett shares a similar sentiment to Maturo in that regard having access to that album even when it may disappear from streaming platforms.

“There’s so many reasons that I love vinyl records,” Prewett says. “Being able to physically own a copy of the music that I love the most, is a really nice thing to know that even if you know if there’s ever a time when I just thought I want to cancel those streaming services or decide I would rather support my artists in a different way, I still have those physical copies of their music.”

About Luke Smith 4 Articles
Luke Smith is a graduate student studying Journalism at Emerson College. He worked for his college's radio station as the promotions director and co-founded his college's news network organization. He also operates a music review page called Scratch Entertainment. This page began on Instagram on July 24th and he would review three different music albums five to six days a week. Today, he publishes video reviews once a week on YouTube.