I had a sort of structure prepared for this post, however that has gone out the window and I will explain why…
I love vinyl subscription services and just subscription services in general and I’m always looking for ones that can offer me something different. One I had always been interested in a vinyl subscription box called ‘VNYL’ I had been getting ads for this all over social media since I started collecting vinyl back in 2016 and over Christmas I had a lot of spare time and I found myself watching VNYL unboxing videos, a lot of the videos are extremely similar, a teenage girl ripping the box open and revealing their Panic and the disco and Halsey records accompanied by an overdramatic reaction of screaming and shrieking before sticking it on their Crosley cruiser for a spin.
For those of you that don’t know, VNYL is a company based out of the US and they claim to curate a collection of 3 records based on your likes and dislikes along with your Spotify listening habits and Discogs collection.
Amongst these videos were ones where people were a little less impressed with the service, people generally complaining about how they got music they had never heard of or would have wanted and this is where my suspicions grew of the brand. It came apparent that if you got sent one of these boxes for free you would get whatever you want, which as I found out you really don’t.
I was sceptical about VNYL, so I thought I would just drop them a DM asking if they would have interested in sending over a box, and they apologised for the negative stuff I’d heard and said yes. I set up an account, connected all my socials/Discogs to make it as accurate as possible as well as filling out the questionnaire, let me talk you through the questions and my responses:
First up, the simple question of how many records you own, not 100% sure why they would want to know this.This is a tick box question and I have about 80 records so I fit into this braket.
Next up is a question that makes more sense as you can see this is a very simple question and while I sort of float between genres I thought I would put the ones that I listen to the most.
Here you had to name a few of my favourite artists, I kept all the ones I put quite mainstream as I didn’t want to go listing all of the local and underground bands I listen to as a lot of them aren’t known in America so it’s just a bit pointless. I feel like I have quite a varied list here.
Write all the artists you don’t want *cracks knuckles* here I put all of the artists that I know VNYL are prone to sending out to people, I’m really not into the whole tumblr scene so all these acts were nicely on my no list.
‘Bin diving is work’ um no it’s not it’s part of being a record collector and in my opinion if you class it as work then why would you bother collecting vinyl. Here is listed a couple of record on my wishlist, a few of these I know had been sent out to people before so I was hoping to get at least one.
Another question that I’m not sure why they ask, it’s sort of as if they just want you to think they are doing so really in-depth curating which we will find out later isn’t the case.
Another question that isn’t on the questionnaire but that I answered was about how experimental wanted to be with my tastes and I selected ‘COLD AS ICE’ which as its name suggests I WANT TO STICK TO WHAT I KNOW, that becomes important when you see what I got.
Right so I filled this out and a couple of weeks later got a notification that it had shipped, today I received the box and this is where it all goes downhill. NOTHING I GOT HAD I EXPRESSED ANY INTEREST IN!!!
Right let’s start with the first one,
I got the Jimi Hendrix experience, are you experienced, no problem with Jimi Hendrix but don’t know if you noticed I DID NOT MENTION JIMI NOR DID I MENTION ANY MUSIC FROM THE 60’S ON MY PROFILE, I’d love to know where they decided that I am going to enjoy this. I forgot to mention earlier but with every single box they send out they send a handwritten note from the person that curated the box, to back this record up they put ‘I’m starting you off with a familiar name that will be a truly epic addition to your collection’ The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Right, so apparently as his name is popular he needs to be in my collection, huh, this to me backs up the idea that this whole brand is for people that treat this hobby as a gimmick and will buy stuff by any artist they have heard of. I’ll probably end up selling this one to buy a record that I actually want and will get a lot of use out of.
Next up is where in my opinion it gets a bit ridiculous, they sent me an album called ‘Swoon’ by a band called ‘Silversun Pickups’ their justification for this is ‘They manage to gracefully make 90’s alt-rock seem cool again, finally’ I guess they are coming off of me stating that I like Nirvana, then why wouldn’t they send me Nirvana, it feels like that just try to find any way around sending out any well-known albums. The music isn’t bad, however, as I set my account to cold as ice I would be expecting to receive albums by artists I know.
Lastly and the one that possibly annoyed me the most purely for their explanation they sent me ‘Bubblegum’ by ‘Kevin Devine’ and they sent me this because ‘I see that you are a fan of Manchester Orchestra, so I think this Kevin Devine record should be right up your alley, he made a split EP with them back in 2010’. I’m sorry but just because I like Manchester Orchestra doesn’t mean I will be interested in someone that worked with them eight years ago, it means I like Manchester Orchestra. For example, I love Ed Sheeran and he worked with Stormzy but I can’t stand Stormzy and Linkin Park worked with Jay Z and I really don’t like him. I just feel this is another one that just really reinforced the idea that they will try anything to get around the fact that they have deals with certain record labels to make sure they get good deals on the records.
Just a little roundup here then, I don’t think that this service is really about curating a box for you, I think that they get hold of these records and they try to find any link in your profile to link it to what they have like vaguely linking it to a decade you liked a band in or finding someone they have worked with in the past. I just don’t think this is as curated as they claim and I personally would not order from them and despite the price being reasonable as I don’t think it’s worth it, because it’s much more fun to go the shop and pick up records you want because judging by this you may as well save your money go to a charity shop or bargain bin and pick up three random records you have never heard of because as far as I’m concerned that’s as much of a risk as this.
I would apologise to VNYL for being so honest here, however, if I don’t like a product or service I will say and this is just my personal experience x
PS guys the plural of Vinyl is Vinyl.