Online Music Service: Vynl
It may come as a surprise to some people but we at Complete Audio like Vinyl. I could go into all the reasons why, but there are plenty of people out there that have written thousands of words on Vinyl, so I’ll just say: Cd’s and streaming are great and convenient, however sometimes you want a listening experience and that is what you get with records, an experience.
Now with that in mind I’m here to tell you about a vinyl related experience. An online music service with a twist. VNYL.org is a monthly subscription service that will send you three random records each month for you to keep.
When I first read about this I was both intrigued and sceptical. Intrigued because at US$32/month it’s a relatively cheap way to grow your record collection, sceptical because you seem to have no control over what you receive. I could envisage the first delivery being a mix of “No Direction”, that Bieber kid and what’s her name that sang Strawberry Kisses (pretty much my idea of hell).
However for all my scepticism my curiosity won out; I figured I could try it for a month and discontinue my subscription if it was rubbish. How bad could it be?
Signing up starts like so many online services these days, you can use your social media account or you can fill out the old fashion forms. I went with the forms, and with the help of autofill managed to spell my name correctly and remember my address.
The next page was where it started to get interesting. Here they ask you for links to you current music service public pages (the pages linked to services like Spotify that let the world see what music you like). This “helps us curate the best vinyl for you”. As the only service on the list I use is SoundClound (and I only use it to listen to the new material my musician friends are putting together) I moved on to question two.
- How many Vinyl Albums do you currently own:
- They give you a couple of choices here, so I click 0-20 and move on
- What traditional genres are you interested in?
- There are 19 to choose from and they request that you pick at least three. I skip Dance and Electronic, tick Country, Jazz and Metal as well as a few others
- Name a few of your favourite Artists and Albums?
- Now this is starting to get personal, and difficult. But it does make me feel a little better about what they might send me so I start to populate this list. Slowly realising what my friends have been saying for years is true. I do have a weird taste in music.
- What music: Artists-Albums-Genres should NOT be in your vinyl shipment.
- OK, still very personal but even more reassuring. So away I go. Suddenly realising that this is harder than the artists I like question.
- How adventurous are you?
- Open to anything
- I’ll listen to anything you send me
- Introduce me to some new artists and Genres
- I’d like to add few experiments to my collection
- This sounded the closest to me
- Cold as Ice
- Stick to what I like
- Open to anything
- Are you looking for anything specific?
- This is great for those that have spent years trying to find a particular album but it never seems to show up, or they “had a copy of it last week”. Like Jefferson Airplane: Bless it’s Pointed Little Head (For my Dad I swear).
- Lastly: anything else you wish to add:
- I leave this blank as it has already gotten a little too personal for my liking.
Next up choose a plan; they start at US$36/month, there is also a 3 month plan and a 1 year plan. For testing purposes I chose the one month option, and entered my credit card details.
However, because they hadn’t got enough information out of you, they ask you to select a “Vibe”, essentially what mood are you in? There are a few options from “Busy at Work” to “Lazy Saturday”. This also has an effect on what albums they select for you.
Then you wait. So far so good, I’ve actually kind of enjoyed the process so far. Forced in to thinking more about my music then I have in a long time.
However, this is where the fun stops for a little while. Two weeks after I received my confirmation of order email, I get my Credit Card bill and notice two separate payments to vnyl.org. Now I did look at some of the other albums they had for sale as well (Miles Davis: Kind of Blue, Fleetwood Mac: Rumours), maybe I elected to purchase those as well, “I won’t worry”. Yet.
Almost a month after receiving my order number, there has been no communication, and I’m starting to think the worst, but I’m trying not to jump to any conclusions. I send an email politely asking for an ETA and a tracking number. The reply:
Your order should be going out this week. Thanks so much for your patience – You’ve a great order coming your way!
Whilst being a polite reply it doesn’t tell me anything, nor does it fill me with confidence. So I reply requesting some more information. With this I find out that the two transactions on my credit card were the order, and then the Shipping. I was also informed that there can be (and often is) issues in shipping products, which causes a delay. That’s fair enough, but my issue at this stage is that in less than a week this company is going to take another US$62 ($32 for the subscription and $30 shipping) bringing the total to US$124 (AU$167.76) of my money without me having anything to show for it. Not even a courtesy email saying something along the lines of: “Shipping of your product has been delayed, however we will do everything in our power to ensure your albums get to you quickly”. After sending another polite email, detailing my unhappiness with this situation I cancelled my subscription.
Two days after this email exchange and the cancellation of the subscription I received two emails. One saying my order has been shipped, and the other explaining how to open the carton when it arrives. And the wait goes on.
Eventually a nice brown box arrives, with VNYL printed on it. This does make me happy, finally something for the money I outlaid two months ago. But I’m back to feeling a little anxious due to the major lack of communication. With some trepidation I lift the tag that is marked “Tear me a river” a quirky little attempt at a pun.
From there I am greeted by a bright white glossy sheet of paper with a picture attached and some handwriting. The picture is of a young lady holding three albums, soon I will realise these are my three albums, there is an arrow indicating this is my curator.
The handwriting is a personal note from Teal, who it turns out is the lady in the picture, my curator. This little note explains that she has personally chosen these albums for me and gives me a little detail on two of the three artists she has chosen.
Now the good part, nervously I remove the three albums, what do I have:
- Ben Harper: Give Till It’s Gone
- Teal informs me that: “Ben Harper is a bluesy rock artist”
i. thanks Teal
- I already own some Ben Harper on CD so this should work out well
- Eric Burdon and the Greenhornes
- Teal: “He is the former lead singer of The Animals and War”.
i.Teal knows her stuff
- Again; I’m aware of Mr Burdon, having been a long-time fan of The Animals, whilst War have a few tracks I don’t mind.
i.On a side note most people remember War for “Lowrider” which featured in the remake of Gone in 60 seconds, but personally I think that “Spill the Wine” is a better track.
- Broncho: Can’t Get Past the Lips
- Teal didn’t give me any insight to this artist, which is a shame because they are the only one I haven’t heard of.
- Turns out that they are a pop/punk outfit. It’s not terrible, but it’s not something I’m going wake up thinking I really need to listen to that album.
So in the end what does it all mean? I love the concept, I like the idea of once a month receive three albums, and it being a surprise what you get. However I didn’t like the added payment surprise (and have triple checked this isn’t mentioned in any of the fine print I could see), but once I calmed down and looked at the numbers it still works out to be less than $30 for each album, and have them delivered to your door. The major issue I have though is not with the money, or the music, it is with the lack of communication. If someone (probably not Teal, she’s busy looking for albums for me) could have sent me an email two weeks in to this arrangement and said “sorry bit of a delay” I would probably still be using the service.
All in all if you have the patience and spare cash I recommend trying it, if only to see what Teal or her friends send your way. I'll probably give it another ago in the future when I have had some time to get past my annoyance.
If you have tried or do try the VYNL.org service, please let me know about your experience and what albums they decided would suit you.