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Universal Launches Sound of Vinyl: A ‘Tinder for Record Collectors’ Curated by Henry Rollins

Universal Music Group’s The Sound of Vinyl project is turning everyday into Record Store Day.

Imagine a Tinder for LPs, with text-messaged recommendations that offer daily suggestions based on the algorithms of your profile and past purchases (with links to order).  You can also text specific requests. The site, which had been in beta, launches today (Oct. 12).

The Sound of Vinyl is a direct-to-consumer e-commerce, retail platform for commercially available (and site-exclusive) vinyl albums from all three major music groups as well as a selection of indies. Noted vinyl aficionado Henry Rollins was the first brought aboard to both curate and provide context, writing blogs and conducting video interviews about the art of vinyl re-creation with the likes of Blue Note head Don Was, who will also be one of the curators, and Capitol mastering engineer Ron McMaster. Other curators include audio engineer/DJ Gimel “Young Guru” Keaton and Ahmet Zappa along with other artists, producers, radio DJs and music journalists.

“Since the earliest days of DJs mixing on turntables, vinyl has played an important role in hip-hop’s evolution,” said Young Guru, who has worked with Jay-Z, Beyonce and Alicia Keys. “So many of the albums that built hip-hop’s foundation were intended to be heard and experienced on vinyl I’m excited to cast new light on some of these iconic albums and give fans new insights into classic records that built hip-hop.”

The Sound of Vinyl, which was originally launched by UMG in the U.K., is meant as a destination of vinyl junkies, an online version of the now-shuttered neighborhood record store, where, as Rollins puts it, “the guys behind the counter were like train-spotters,” telling you which record to buy and which to return to the racks. “This site is a combination of discovery and education,” he says. “I want to reach that one kid in Montana alone in his room with the Joy Division poster on the wall, and convince him to buy the first Velvet Underground album on 180g vinyl. I want them to hear ‘Led Zeppelin II’ the way I first did.  It’s the kind of experience they won’t get listening to an MP3 on their cell phone earbuds.”

Using national distribute Alliance as its supplier, SOV also plans to offer exclusive, limited edition runs of from 500-1,000 colored vinyl selections from the UMG catalog, a prospect which has Rollins itching to get started.

The site uses the U.S. Postal Service for shipping, which means from 48 hours to five days, with a $3 per unit charge that will be adjusted for orders with multiple albums.  And the prices are at least comparable to what you’d find on competing sites such as Discogs and VYNL Record Club.

Universal Music Enterprises President/CEO Bruce Resnikoff said, “The passion for the vinyl experience remains contagious, and now fans will have a unique and accessible way to discover and buy vinyl albums tailored to their music tastes, without a membership fee. It’s an experience that demands a listener’s attention and provides a robust physical connection to the artist and music.”

“Digital made music disposable,” insists Rollins. “We don’t value listening to a stream as much as sitting down with a vinyl album and poring over the liner notes.  There are just more sonic frequencies on vinyl, more colors on the palette.”

By combining new-school technology with old-world craft, The Sound of Vinyl is looking to establish a community for those who grew up with the format, and even more so, those that didn’t.

“Music is not just a background for doing other things,” says Rollins. “Bands made albums so that you’d shut up and listen.  You need to pay attention, so that when the side is over, you get up and flip it over.

“This site is for kids in those small towns across the U.S. where the nearest record store is 20-30 miles away. I used to drive every weekend from D.C. to Rockville, Maryland, to Skip Groff’s Yesterday and Today to buy the latest U.K. imports… I’m just a kook who loves vinyl records and can talk about them for hours.”

He’s got the perfect job for that. For more info, go to: http://thesoundofvinyl.us

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