Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SlyVinyl - Keeping Record Collectors Informed

Written by Robert Benson 

A funny thing is happening in the music industry these days, old is new - or should we say that an old format is new again.  Yes, those relics we call vinyl records are back, with sales of vinyl seeing an almost 33% increase from 2012 to 2013.  And that's not counting the secondary market, where millions of records exchange hands each year.

With the demand for vinyl on the increase, vinyl lovers and collectors of the format search the web for news about new vinyl pressings and reissues.  Which brings us to a website called is the brainchild of music lover Scott Wickberg, who was kind enough to share his musical journey with us.  Let's explore the concepts behind the scenes at SlyVinyl:

You come from a MP3 background, why promote vinyl?

"I do, I've always been the kind of guy to take things apart, just to see how they work. So in 1998 when mp3s first starting being circulated I had to have some and figure them out. I loved the fact that so much unpublished music was available. Anyone could record anything and make it only a few minutes from my ears. Before leaving high school I gathered up the largest collection of acoustic music sessions on the internet," said Scott.

"Three months into my freshman year of college this attracted some unexpected attention from the RIAA who arrested me for copyright infringement. It was very unexpected back in 2000, as I was the first individual they ever came after, this was all before even Napster had been taken down. The original case they brought to court was 10,000 cases of infringement each for $200,000 in penalties."

"I'll save you the calculating, they were planning on bringing an 18 year-old dorm student to court for 2 billion dollars in damages," Scott mused. "In the end I lawyered my way out of it and lost my college fund for trading Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon with some friends of mine online."

"This was hard on me for sure. Not exactly keg stands and running naked through the quad as I had envisioned," Scott quipped.

"But It didn't stop me from loving and collecting music. I believe I bought my first vinyl in 2005. I didn't have a turntable and just bought the album because I felt it was my penance to such a great album. I believe it was Arcade Fire's 'Funeral.' I quickly scrounged up a thrift store turntable and began my love affair with vinyl records."

"I promote vinyl because I love vinyl," said Scott.  "Vinyl is an experience, it's intentional and physical. It's always fun when someone comes over to my house and realizes I have one of their favorite albums on wax. You can see their face light up as it starts to spin. As an idea, vinyl might be hard to understand why you'd get into it, but when you experience your favorite album being played at 33rpm your mind will change."

Why is vinyl important to the musical landscape recently?

"Vinyl has been great for the musical landscape lately, as it has really given artists a new source of funds. Royalties on digital are always crap, radio is crap and no one buys cds or indie bands. So with vinyl they can finally get a fair wage while also giving fans a truly special piece of music history. It's fun and everyone wins."

Tell us about SlyVinyl, the services you provide and the future goals of the website.

"The website's beginnings were very simple. Create a site that does the hard work for everyone. One site to learn about limited releases on vinyl before they're gone," explained Scott. "We don't post about vinyl that'll be pressed into the ground, as you'll find it at your local shop and you don't need our help with that. We post about limited records that'll most likely sell out and then you'll have to buy on eBay for a ton of money later if you missed. No one had time to go to all these sites, so we decided to do it for you."

"The goals for the site change everyday, but mainly we just want to keep empowering vinyl lovers. Some of the things coming in 2014 are our monthly podcasts, an insiders club, new Sly originals pressings and an internal fan to fan resell market."

Tell us about your network of writers, or 'Record Informant' how does this work?

"They are the core of all that is Sly," stated Scott. " I started writing for Sly and took all the weight of the releases. I also run a web design company so at about 6 months it became overwhelming to do both. Over the 6 months I had gathered up a bunch of people that sent me tips about records all the time. I turned to them and asked if they'd help me and come on as writers. Essentially everyone of them did. These writers are from across the world and now number above 20. Two of them have really taken it to the next level and are now my editors - Ryan Ribitsch and Cameron Hilliard. The site would be nothing without the amazing team and I owe it's success 100% to all of them and their dedication to spreading the word about amazing vinyl records."

What genres of music do you promote?

"All really. With the network of writers, I don't hinder them at all. Only rules are that it can't be an infinite press and can't be a cheesy "limited" bundle with a free tote bag or something. Other than that it's up to them. I think we only really promote one genre and that's "good" but that's debatable," laughed Scott.

Tell us about your vinyl pressings.

"The SlyVinyl Original pressings just kinda came about as a good opportunity. I noticed that we had tons of vinyl lovers that followed us, I can do ecommerce easy enough and had some extra money laying around. I contacted Blue Sky Black Death who had an album 'Noir' that I loved and wasn't on vinyl to see if they'd let me press it for them and share the profits. They were 100% on board."

"Our process is very different. We go after records that should be on vinyl but aren't. We then front all the money and take care of everything. The band gets paid their share in copies of the record they sell on tour to make money. So it's a pretty different system than what else is going on out there. The band puts up no money and get delivered a bunch of amazing records in the mail. We like it and the bands do to."

"Our releases are done up 100% to the things our readers asked for. 180g multi colored vinyl, foil numbered, gatefold heavyweight sleeve, mastered for vinyl. Essentially as good as vinyl gets. We have our third release due out in about 2 months. We'll be releasing the information in the next couple weeks!"

Are you a vinyl collector?

"For sure. More than I should - as it makes me broke. I have about 600 records, which is growing daily. I've had to move a bunch lately and I personally think moving my record collection is the worst thing in the world. Nothing is heavier than a big bin of records. I'm on discogs and keep it mostly updated, but I think I have about 100 more to add.

Where do you see vinyl in ten years?

"Vinyl isn't going anywhere. It hasn't been affected by technology yet & I think about 10 popular media formats have come and gone. People who love vinyl just love it. It's the purest form (other than live shows) of the music experience. As I said before it's physical and intentional. It's not for everyone and that's fine, but there will always be a good sized group of us that spin wax and that isn't gonna change."

Certainly, Scott has a unique music background, yet through all the fuss about downloading he has come out of it all with the love of vinyl.  And for that, there is no lawsuit awaiting him, just the reward of helping inform the vinyl community about the only thing that matters to them; the vinyl record.

No comments: