Why you should care
Two young entrepreneurs from Chicago are giving the old-fashioned record club a fresh spin.
These days, nights out often involve pulsing house parties or dance venues. But if you long for more sophisticated evenings with friends, cocktails and great tunes, you’re in luck.
Vinyl Me, Please, a Chicago-based record club, aims to deliver a unique listening experience by sending members a new vinyl album every month, along with a cocktail recipe to go with the music.
Founders Tyler Barstow and Matt Fiedler are serious music-lovers who launched the club out of a mix of nostalgia for the days before Spotify and the frustration that comes with the often-overwhelming variety of music on offer today. Audiophiles have also long preferred the rich sound of vinyl records.
“Record stores were stressful because there’s so much to choose from and then we remembered the old school record clubs our dads used to be a part of.” So they created their own 21st century version, which they’ve humbly dubbed: “The best damn record club out there.”
Since launching in January 2013, the Vinyl Me, Please family has grown to more than 1,500 members in more than 15 countries, with most located in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.
The monthly subscription costs $27 (or $44 for those outside the U.S.). Once every 30 days, members get a record delivered straight to their front door. The monthly picks are chosen by a team of expert music curators working closely with artists and labels to select albums that Fiedler describes as “too good to ignore” — from old gems to new releases. Each package includes a piece of artwork inspired by the album by artists like Alexandra Nelson and Van Holmgren.
Subscribers also receive an existing cocktail recipe chosen to compliment the record’s mood by partner company Vinyl+Cocktails. So you can groove to the post-rock tracks of Explosions in the Sky’s The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place while enjoying an elderflower “Steam Roller.” Or let a whiskey-based “Ortensia” mellow your senses as you listen to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks.
Maybe a few caveats are in order. While it sounds charming, drinking designer cocktails, or any kind of alcoholic beverage, isn’t a necessary part of listening to great music. And watch your wallet! It’s not the $27 a month, but the danger of the audiophile bug. There’s practically no limit on how much you can spend on great turntables and system enhancements to keep tweaking out a better sound.
In addition to a monthly record and cocktail recipe, members also have access to “The Standard,” a weekly music digest highlighting up-and-coming artists and noteworthy music products.
“The power of an album extends way beyond the individual tracks and, in some ways, listening to a record becomes a process of self-discovery,” explains Fiedler. “As our world becomes more digitized, those experiences are fewer and farther between.”
Club members seem to agree. “It’s fantastic: They keep it fresh every month and we have been exposed to a lot of great new music of all genres,” says subscriber Doug Carter, adding “The only thing I would want is access to past-month records.”
Barstow and Fiedler say they’ve taken the idea onboard and will soon be launching a store where members can order additional albums with their monthly package.
It may not be an easily scalable model, but mixing cool music and cooler booze might be the recipe for soothing many a nostalgia-prone heart.