Whether you’re a vinyl junkie from way back or new to the old-school way of listening to favorite bands, the newly launched Sound of Vinyl website, configured to send record recommendations by text message, may appeal to you.
Here’s how SOV works: After a user enters a mobile phone number and creates a musical taste profile, the service sends a daily text with an album tip that features artwork, information, and price. Reply "like" or "dislike" to refine future picks, or type "yes" to buy the album, and it will be instantly shipped.
The interactive platform is powered by an innovative engine that uses computer algorithms to suggest albums based on personal preferences, offering turntable fans a chance to explore new and classic vinyl releases and helping them navigate a catalog of more than 20,000 titles. Unlike Vnyl.org and similar membership sites, SOV is free.
“Our goal is to open up the world of vinyl, whether you’re a longtime collector or new fan who is just rediscovering the joys of a vinyl record,” says Bruce Resnikoff, president and CEO of Universal Music Enterprises, which created SOV. “We offer exclusive and limited-edition releases that are all tailored to the individual tastes of our customers and are not available at other retailers, as well as customized releases from all the major labels to small indie or regional labels.”
Not just an online store with a smartphone twist, SOV provides limited-edition LPs (prized color discs by Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis, Iggy Pop, Kiss, Grand Funk Railroad and the Go-Gos are in the pipeline), exclusive content and music experts (from artists and producers to DJs), all serving up vinyl lore and suggestions.
It can be particularly useful for older vinyl enthusiasts who feel lost in record stores and need a sonic scout to steer them toward compatible discs.
SOV “can help all age groups, especially boomers, to rediscover albums by their favorite bands that they might have forgotten about or not listened to in years, or never heard in the first place,” Resnikoff says. “Also, our curators share stories about boomer-era records. For example, record producer and executive Don Was talks about remastering albums such as Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main Street (1972) by the Rolling Stones, and Mode for Joe (1966) by Joe Henderson.”
Punk legend and author Henry Rollins, SOV’s first featured vinyl curator, will promote his favorite albums, reminisce about his storied career and interview such music vets as Capitol Studios' vinyl mastering engineer Ron McMaster.
A throwback on a comeback, vinyl has been booming since 2012. LP sales are at a 30-year high and climbing, up 3.7 percent last year, as long-freefalling CD sales dropped 20.9 percent, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. And while vinyl sales account for only a fraction of overall U.S. music sales, revenues reached $416 million last year, five times the 2011 total, the RIAA reports.
How is a relic like vinyl bullying its way upstream in the streaming era? “It’s hard to pinpoint one single reason,” Resnikoff says. “As digital has made music virtually invisible, the people who really love it see value in having a physical piece that you can see and touch. It feels good, is something they can treasure. Vinyl fits that bill perfectly.
“Although digital music is extremely convenient, playing compressed files through earbuds creates a solitary experience. Running it through portable speakers sacrifices some of the sonic quality. For people who love music and want to share it and devote their attention to it, vinyl provides a richer, deeper, more satisfying sonic experience.”
Learn more about Sound of Vinyl here.