That Special Record Talk
After an initial fear that MP3s would force records to go the way of the dinosaur, vinyl has remained a strong presence in the music scene. But if you're not lucky enough to be in a city sporting good record stores, or fancy some limited release underground sounds where would you go? Luckily the guys at That Special Record have considered this and are offering a brand new service that delivers house and techno straight to your door. We had a chat with them about the hows and whys of this new approach to buying records – but not before they provide you with a chance to win a free one month subscription;
What inspired you to set up That Special Record?
The idea sort of stemmed from the fact that I was getting a bit frustrated with the process of discovering great records online.
As a long-time vinyl collector I always loved going to record stores to discover and buy records. Unfortunately many record stores have been closing down all over the World, including where I live (Lisbon, Portugal). Online stores are the alternative, but most have so much crap music listed it’s way too time consuming to filter the junk from the good stuff. It’s almost a full-time job. This problem inspired me to create That Special Record.
Who is the service aimed at?
Basically anyone who is into electronic music, in particular house and techno, and loves collecting records. Our members are typically bedroom DJs, semi-professional DJs and record collectors who live in cities where there are no (decent) record stores.
How do you pick each month's records?
We only pick records we love, typically house and techno limited edition releases. Most of the picks are records limited to 150-400 copies, new and old under the radar stuff or records we believe are essential to any record collection.
But there’s a twist. When people sign-up we take details of the subscriber’s profile- we ask them to fill out a music tastes survey. This gives us a profile for what to send to that person, so although we pick records we love, our choices are not completely random. We filter a lot, so we can send to our members monthly packs stuffed with 2 surprise records we believe they’re going to love to have in their record collection.
Do you work with particular record labels or do you source releases from all labels?
We work on a release by release basis, so we source releases from a bunch of different labels, distributors and small independent record stores. But as the business grows we’re looking into working more closely with particular record labels.
There are some obscure releases amongst your previous editions, how do you come about these?
Finding and discovering records is my favourite part. I spend as much time as possible looking for records and digging deep looking for new labels and obscure records.
Do you ever feel that making records available via a mail subscription service that you're devaluing the underground nature of them?
Not at all. As a record collector, one of the worst things that can ever happen is when you discover THAT special record a few months after release date, find it’s sold out everywhere, and then you discover that a few Discogs vinyl sellers are pushing that record for 30€, 40€ or more. For example, a few days ago I saw a few people complaining on Twitter about this dude who was trying to sell Vakula’s ‘You've Never Been To Konotop (Selected Works 2009-2012)’ LP for 199€. Ain’t nothing underground about trying to sell a record for 199€!
With our service, we’re putting some of these limited edition records directly in the hands of real collectors and helping them avoid these crazy Discogs prices.
Do you think that this service is sustainable given the erratic nature of the music industry?
Obviously as a service specialised in house and techno music, we’re a niche operation so we’re not expecting to make millions out of this, but that’s not the purpose anyway. Our purpose is to build a trusted curation service that introduces our members to great artists and independent labels. Being subscription based and paid in advance makes this business sustainable.
What would be the most obscure record that you've managed to secure this year?
Probably CS 03 (λυμπία), a limited edition release from Common Series, a mysterious label based in Italy. Really beautiful record and a must have for fans of raw deep house and ambient house.
Are record labels ever hesitant to supply you with a bulk order of their limited edition records and how do you combat the discogs-ification (made up word) scalping that Record store Day suffers from?
Until now no, I guess mainly for two reasons. First, because we’re still a small operation, so we’re talking about small bulk orders. Second, because I think they see value in what we’re doing, because we’re essentially linking them with potential new customers and fans. With us they know their records are going directly to real record collectors and not to some random guy placing a bulk order to later sell those records for 40 or 50€ on Discogs.
What is your favourite record that you've mailed out this year?
HFP#004 from a techno label called Head Front Panel. I absolutely love that record! It’s raw and intense techno at it’s best and reminds me a bit of early Jeff Mills and Terrence Dixon productions.
You can sign up to the That Special Record subscription service on their website.
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