I have two new releases in the shops right now so I figured it’s a good time to encourage you to go to your local shop and buy some records. I make my living from buying and selling old records but here I’m going to talk about how I buy new releases. This still applies to buying music which is new to you of course.
On your way to the record shop or before you head out, listen to some music... Preferably the same genre you are looking for today. Listen to something that you are already familiar with, maybe not your all time faves but something good enough to help you focus and hear the difference between the slew of average edits out there (not mine) and the more interesting and worthwhile reworks (like mine haha).
Give yourself plenty of time. Of course, it's not always possible but I don’t get to shops nearly as much as I used to so I like to give myself several hours to go through plenty of records. Don’t bring your significant other along as watching someone play through a huge stack of records can certainly be testing. I have learned from experience.
Current relationship status: single. House full of records.
Don’t skip – it’s easy to skip through records real quick looking for something to grab you but a lot of the best records take a little longer to come across. Some records hit you right away and that’s great but those are often the ones you play for a couple of months and get bored of quickly. The records you grow to really love sometimes take a bit longer to reveal their magic - so take your time.
My approach is to usually listen until I decide I don’t like it. I listen until something I don’t like happens, maybe the vocal starts and it’s not up to scratch or they have used a dodgy keyboard part that is too cheesy or there’s just not enough of a groove for me.
You can also listen until bored. If you’ve listened for a minute or two and it hasn’t actually done enough to catch your interest then it’s worth skipping ahead to see where it goes later on.
Also to help you focus PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN! I’ve seen countless people skipping through records while scrolling through their socials. As much as I like to think I’m good at multi-tasking, when it comes to being open to new music focus is everything.
Most shops will have a deck set up with headphones. They get a lot of use so aren’t always in the best condition. Make sure you choose one with decent sound and set the level to a good volume. Not so loud you tire your ears but up enough that you can imagine the tunes you are listening to in the place you might be playing them. Club or bar or your Mum’s third wedding reception perhaps.
Don’t go shopping high. Back in the second Summer Of Love (88/89) there were crazy scenes in some of the record shops in Soho which were full of ravers who obviously hadn’t been to bed for quite some time. Not sure how many of them were just keeping the party going, raving to the tunes being played in the shop as opposed to actually buying records but it’s possible their purchases never sounded so good. I may have even done it myself once. Vibey as it is, it’s probably not the most focussed record shop experience you’ll have. But hey maybe it’s a great idea...