The Record Cell may be my sanctum sacntorum, where all of my music, books, and video discs reside; along with the computer I work on, but it was never an inviting place. Our home is small, and this was the only room available for all of these things. So the room was jam-packed to the walls with stuff. All the way up to the ceiling. One could barely see the walls. There was stuff on the floor. You could barely see that. Worse still, portions of the LP racks were covered up with these boxes and piles. Rendering certain portions of the musical alphabet unreachable without moving stacks of stuff first.
It was so untenable a space, that last fall, when we took a 10 day staycation to paint the interior of our home, we declared the Record Cell room off limits and did everything else. Because the amount of things that would need to be moved would have taken up all of the time off with no time left to paint! but that has finally changed this year.
This has been a very busy summer. The long planned move to re-floor our entire home has finally happened after nearly two decades of hating on the flooring. But it’s been a lot of work. It started in earnest late last year, and was in the planning/hiring stages through spring. We would need to clear out most of our possessions to make the install as easy as possible for the crew. The notion occurred; that with the room empty, we could finally paint it [and the closets} which we had neglected last year. And when the room was empty, what better time would there be to remove the ceiling texture we also hated?
We had removed the “popcorn” ceiling texture in the bathroom years ago. It’s a big expense, but it was worth the effort to have smooth ceilings. The trillions of spiders in the woods where we live love to make webs on this surface, which then needs to be vacuumed off, leading to unplanned and imperfect removal of the crumbly texture. So trust me, it’s something you want to see go from your home. So the plan grew into: another 10 days to do the following. We would rent a storage container to put in our driveway for a month in which most of our belongings would stay while the flooring was being installed. One we filled that, The handyman crew would remove the ceiling texture and paint and plaster the ceiling. We would then prep and paint the two closets and the Record Cell room. We would re-do the shelving in the master closet. Then the flooring crew would do their work, which they estimated at four days. We would be at work again by then. As you may imagine, it was a lot of labor and expense.
Due to availability, we were not sure exactly when it would happen, but it was in late May that I started doing the necessary work to become ready for the starter’s pistol. That was when I moved all of the music/video/heat sensitive electronics to helpful neighbor’s homes. Getting the records ready and moved took two solid weekends since I needed to deep clean the plastic milk crates that held the records. I had done this once in the 18 years we’d lived there at least a decade ago. I was not bringing all of that dust into my neighbor’s homes.
The flooring was ready to happen by the week of July 5th. It was done by the 11th and since then we’ve been moving everything back into the house each weekend. I also took the time to do a radical re-think of the Record Cell. The large bookshelf was moved elsewhere, and the 800 title spin rack I had just gotten to the floor earlier this year, was deemed expendable. I made a new layout that left a maximum of floor/wall space showing. I finessed the layout from paper to reality until I felt that the proportions were good and usable. I moved in the space to “get a feel” for it and it seemed to be a huge improvement. When I looked into the room’s doorway, I did couldn’t even see the CD/LP racks from most angles! This nerve wracking space would no longer vex us.
But movement forward comes at a cost.
The Culling Is Coming
I already had at least 500 CDs [mostly singles] off rack in boxes of 25. I was now losing almost the same amount of floor racking from the two foot square spin rack going away. So it now becomes cogent to really weed and cull the music collection. According to Discogs, my collection entails about 6200 titles. But that’s only an estimate. I sit looking at Discogs [at work…cough!] and try to remember what I own, and click the title as part of my collection. To sell a title, it has to be the exact release as shown in the Discogs database. So I need to review my collection and make sure I have the right pressings noted as being in my collection. Then I can sell them.
When I sold on Discogs [2013-2018] I would list items. People could buy them from me, and I would pack and weight them; determining the exact shipping costs to whatever part of the world [usually Germany] and then charge a final cost that meant that the buyer paid as close to the exact shipping cost as possible. I did not want to make a profit on shipping, but I sure didn’t want to lose money!
But selling on Discogs has become something that is much more complex than it used to be in the last few years. The website instituted onerous mandatory shipping policies in order to make buying as seamless and happy-making as any other “one-click” web retailer. No doubt to goose an IPO or stock valuation! As a hobbyist merely thinning out my collection, it’s really challenging to take into account every possible weight/cost factor shipping to dozens of world zones. The mechanisms built into Discogs says a CD weighs this much. A record that much. But a triple gatefold 180g album is a very different weight from a cheap 70s Dynaflex LP on RCA. A CD can come in a cardboard sleeve…or a “fat boy” box. And none of the formulae take into account the weight of packaging. It takes more bulk to get something halfway around the world without damage. So I have my work cut out for me and if I want to avoid taking a bath on shipping costs [in many cases, in excess of the valuation of the disc being sold] it make me frankly break out in hives.
Even so, I definitely see the need and desirability to cull anywhere from 20-30% of my collection in order to get what I have on rack and dispense with the chaff. To that end, I’ve begin checking/correcting my Discogs database. I hope to finally have the full collection in a spreadsheet before I begin selling off so I will have records of everything. Then the sales will begin as early as Fall. Deciding what to sell will be the easier task by far! And undoubtedly, the return of the sidebar sale buttons will accompany this time. Wish me luck. The work never ceases.
Wow, just wow! What a labour of love the Record Cell is. You might just have given me the inspiration to thin my own collection..I’m not getting any younger and my partner has no interest in any of it so desire to inherit!
Problem I have is that it is in so many different rooms-most vinyl in the dining room, some in the living room, most cds/ dvds and box sets in the spare bedroom…its everywhere!!
I await your discogs updates….
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Nick – If you have your collection strewn all throughout your house… you may have a problem. My friend Ron’s house was like that. I had to leave it! I also remember an old man [alone] in his 60s shopping in Manifest Discs, a huge music store that used to be in Charlotte, about a decade ago. The guy looked sad and pathetic; definitely not receiving any joy in the process. Seeing him browse the CD bins had the same optics as a retiree grimly feeding their pension into the slots at Vegas! At that time I resolved not to be that man in 20 years. I’m half way there. Wish me luck.
At 54, something previously unthinkable has happened in the way I consume music. I rarely buy music these days because the amount of time i have for active listening is finite and i can’t honestly say that i have given my existing (significant) collection a fair go on the record/CD player.
I still buy the occasional album, but the (seemingly) insatiable drive to get every new release of intrest has wilted (middle age does not come alone). This has probably been hastened by spotify, which scratches an urge for more, more, more…
In short, my approach these days is to be attentive to what I have. It’s quite humbling to put on a record owned for years that turns out to be a stranger.
David McIntosh – Welcome to the comments! I am a bit older and the bloom is off the rose for me too. I’ve seen it happen to my older friend Mr. Ware and could not imagine a time where I would not be heavily invested in collecting music, but I can feel it now. The hateful state of buying music that I like in 2022 is only fuel to the fire! I actively hate going to the “best” record store in town, now! It makes me angry the way music retailing has played out in the 21st century. I am reserving my enthusiasm for completing collection that I’ve wanted to complete for decades. The idea of buying a large box of cheap records from a web retailer still can lift my spirits, and I can see that happening every now and then. But in the pandemic, the Record Shopping Road Trips are over. And I don’t see them returning.
That “best” local store is having their anniversary sale in a fortnight. This entails going into the store’s basement, where all of the records and CDs I might want to buy [that are never for sale in the tedious store space above] are being dumped for a dollar! Collecting music shouldn’t be something that you can’t afford to do, and the last time I did this in 2018, I got 51 titles for $51! But there’s no way that I am going to be packed into their basement with 150 other people in close quarters at their little super spreader event on the 14th!
And in my case, I have bought records 30 years ago that I’ve yet to listen to… because time to play records is always lacking.
There’s certainly a lot of albums etc in my collection that have since been update/replaced with remastered/SDLX/et al versions so I could stand to pare it down, but my issue is that most of my collection is stored (in a climate-controlled environment, praise Bob) about 2,612 miles away, and I haven’t really had it in my hands (except for rare “music jail” visitations) for the last seven years.
I’m actually in Florida now getting ready to change storage locations for what I hope will be the last time before I finally marshal the resources to move the collection (there’s other stuff in there too) to at least somewhere in the same town I live in! I would imagine that I can cut it down significantly to the most important albums, singles, EPs and related ephemera that remain important to me to keep as physical objects.
I do still buy new CD and only very occasionally vinyl I deem important to have (such as John Linnell’s recent vinyl-only Roman Songs EP), but it is mostly just albums. Don’t think of this culling as the loss of one’s youth; it’s really more the clarity and prioritized thinking that comes with age and (hopefully) wisdom.
You too huh? I well remember all the years I was in Arizona and California, while my supposed “life” was in storage in central Florida. It wasn’t until a couple of years after we moved to NC that we finally buckled down and closed out the Florida storage. Of course, all that “important stuff” ended up WHERE exactly? You guessed it – IN STORAGE. At least nearby storage, as you call out, but nonetheless not here with us. Certainly not accessible, and very obviously not NEEDED — I don’t believe I’ve touched any of the boxes in question, other than to move them from one storage unit to another once or twice, in all those intervening years.
The obvious question being begged here is “how F*CKING IMPORTANT can this crap BE if I can go for well over 20 years without even looking at it?” When I was living out of a saddle-bag (literally) tooling around England on my motorcycle, I came to appreciate just HOW LITTLE I really needed to be comfortable. So why am I paying good, hard earned dinero month after month, year after year, decade after decade to store stuff I can very obviously not just live without, but be happier living without?
good luck in the selling. i’m actually going full steam ahead, and buying hundreds if not thousands more records and cds before i flame out. what happens afterwards is no concern of mine.
but yes, it would be nice to have an accessible collection, that is complete and concise, if that is even possible.
will be interesting to see all your cool items that come up. im sure there will be quite a lot of good ones in there. remind me when you do some updates to the listings.
negativeine – My biggest concern is that I’ll cull all the acts that give my collection a little variety! If I like an act, I generally want everything. 80% of my collection [~6200 titles] is about 70 artists. But I think I’m ready to cut loose all the Simple Minds albums that I hate! That is a statement. And if I do that, can OMD and Ultravox be far behind?
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I’ve never been a completist, so for example don’t own any Simple Minds albums that I don’t love/enjoy. Cd only so that helps and I discard a % of the jewel cases for space saving sleeves. Stuff is stored, discretely, in various rooms but 90% out of direct view. Occasionally I root stuff out and decide it needs to go to charity. But I am wary as I’ve regretted some of the stuff I’ve ditched in the past, and these days prices can rise quickly. I buy far less new music but as a music reviewer on a couple of sites I do come across new stuff I want so in the era of no cd promos still buy new CDs plus reissues and charity shop stuff, which can be anything. Also I still find ‘new’ old stuff after all these years. I have more time now and have made a concerted effort to go back through my collection, as I’ve said before, it’s the best cd shop I’ve ever seen:) I’ve been getting a lot of joy from albums that I’d neglected or that hadn’t fully clicked with me. So it’s sad to hear people maybe feeling a bit weary of the music buying game. I know there’s more to life than physical objects but like I say, for me, it’s an eternal joy bringer.
Agree though, the bricks and mortar shopping experience is dead sadly.
Oh and also agree with Negative1ne, once I’m gone it doesn’t matter, although I have advised my wife to refer to Discogs before selling anything:)
I’ve been eagerly anticipating this post and I’m certainly enjoying the comments. I’m 67 next month. I am fortunate to have a 24 year old son who will inherit my music collection and will appreciate it. I have always been a CD guy and have what I feel is a very manageable collection but I have also maintained extensive vinyl collections for a handful of core artists. Since right at the moment my son is smitten with vinyl I let him take about a third of it a year or so ago. He wanted all the full length albums but wasn’t that interested in things like 12” singles. I have an extremely sentimental pull from my 7” singles but I think I can let many of my 12” go. But how? Trying to sell 50 assorted Icehouse or XTC singles online is overwhelming me when I consider dealing with packing and international postage. I know a few might fetch a decent price but for items that appear overabundant in the $5 range, it’s very tempting to just trade them into our local record emporium for a nice store credit and be done with it. Thoughts?
Mr. Ware – Your store will take 12″ singles in trade???!! No one here will take CDs either. That stuff has been gone from Asheville for half a generation. I fear all of the 12″ [and 7″] singles were dumped in the landfill to make room for the holy LPs. Which are about 99.99% useless to me. The vast majority of vinyl I actually want are singles. The albums that I want that are not on CD are in exceedingly minute in number at this point. After I bone up on international shipping policies in Discogs, we need to have a talk. That’s your only outlet. or eVilBay.
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There’s no such thing as too much music imho. But there are restrictions in handling and listening, a warning sign is when you owe plenty of music but can’t remember it properly and buy the same release accidently twice (not talking about remasters, different pressings, various formats, new deluxe versions with bonus etc.).
It might be easier when you just need to owe it but for me it’s too much when the need arises to store something elsewhere than in my record cell and the effort to keep track is starting to equal the pleasure of listening / discovering.
slur – Point well made. My loved one has become attracted to the “one in – one out” theory as I have told her about the policy of some. My big problem is not that I don’t want to seriously cull…I do. Liberally! It’s just that I want to get some recompense for the music. Not just dump it in a donation box. It’s worth enough not to do that. My collection valuation estimates on Discogs is up to low six figures. Next to my home, it’s the most valuable thing I own. And selling music online is much harder than it used to be with mandatory shipping policies on evilBay and Discogs Marketplace. These retailers are pushing the dealers to act like professionals when most are hobbyists. Just to increase their bottom line. I used to sell easily because I could get an order, then pack and weigh it and provide accurate, inexpensive shipping options [usually within 8-12 hours] where I would neither lose money nor make any profit on the shipping. This is no longer possible. So I’m paralyzed as to how I should move forward. Developing a shipping policy that is brainless and one-click for the buyer takes more research than I’ve time to do, and the spikes in shipping costs are frequent and demand constant upkeep. Next to that, even the taxation issues are a cakewalk!
About selling on discogs, yes indeed there are barriers to take if you want to start again.
It took me about two days to get everything fixed after the last shipping rates increasement /change here in Germany including research and calculating weights and taking care of the format dimensions to get it up and running again, an external spreadsheet to get an proper overview was mandatory as the price list of my favourite logistic was barely useable to convert it into audio format.
The discogs software has it’s weak points too, not even an European Union zone is possible you need to add any country per hand if you don’t go
a) for selling in your home country only
b) calculate only one or two prices (home / world)
c) select locations where to sell (Perhaps it’s worth to consider how many you will sell to Faroue Island, Malaysa or Ghana compared to US / Europe / UK?)
as I’ve seen many changed too, especially post Brexit. The various tax regulations in the US did not help either to keep global communication / shipping / private selling flourishing but thankfully discogs installed therefore an automated system when possible.
That said it’s still the best marketplace if you’re not under pressure to get loads shifted fast,
even when the permanent editing of releases means you could get into trouble because your CD does not any longer match the Submission as someone checked the ifpi code and changed it. But all that picky behavior aside I had most of the time positive experiences – and the music did not go into a resellers assortment or in the bins.
(Feel free to drop me a pm if I can help you.)
slur – Your helpful response gives me hope. I may just PM you when the time comes. Nowhere near ready yet to start selling. Still too much work to do around the home.
I’m making popcorn because this culling should be fun to watch! As for me, I’m nearing the end of my allotted space for LPs, which is the physical product I acquire most regularly…although I do get a fair amount of CDs from the new music publicists hoping for a review on AnEarful – but I don’t keep all of those. I recently freed up three inches of space by removing three Beethoven box sets I took from my father’s collection after he died, returning them to the rest of my parents records, which now live in our family country house. We don’t have a working turntable up there, but I hope to correct that when finances permit it! I’ve also held off the inevitable “one in-one out” by selling a few LPs at a time at my local stores. Of course, I got the more valuable store credit, which meant bringing home almost as much vinyl as I sold, LOL.
Jeremy Shatan – I need “one in – three out” for att least a couple of years!