As 2016 is well under way, how are you resolutions going? Good, glad to hear that you’re still not smoking. Keep it up. This is a good one to try and stick to. How about your resolution of trying to find more new, interesting, and exciting music? Sorry to hear it’s not going that well. Here are some quick and easy solutions that might make 2016 the year when you discover your new favourite band...
The only real question is how much you have to spend and whether you care about physical product or not? If you’re just a music fan who hasn’t got time or space to house an ever growing vinyl collection, then Spotify, or a similar service, is probably for you. You get everything you need at the click of a button and, if you don’t like something, what does it matter as you haven’t invested a lot of time and money in it. Click again and find something you do like. However, if you like the idea of being sent a surprise package each month/quarter that you have no idea what is inside, then Flying Vinyl or one of the other physical clubs might just be for you!
Here are just a few of the music subscription services that I’ve enjoyed over the last year...
What’s the deal: Flying Vinyl ethos is on sending you the best new alternative music straight to your door.
What do you get: You get 5 7” singles, 1 always being coloured vinyl, which are exclusive to Flying Vinyl costumers. You also receive an exclusive art print, mini fanzine including information about the bands included all housed in a charming box that doubles as the packaging.
How much does it cost: The price is £20 a month, or £216 for the year. There is also an option where you can buy a gift subscription of 3 or 6 months for your music loving family member of friend.
Is it worth it: On the surface that seems reasonable, but the problem with this service it that you have no say in the music you get sent. After listening to the first edition I realised that I really only liked 3 out of the 5 singles and out of those 3 I only really played 2 on a regular basis. Is only liking 2/5 singles enough to warrant £20. That being said, you might get a few months when you love 4 or 5, and that is value for money.
Vinyl Me, Please
What’s the deal: Started in 2014 Vinyl Me, Please is a record of the month club that is all about the album. Each month they source either a classic, or contemporary record that they think you’re collection shouldn’t be without.
What do you get: Each month you receive 1 12” album, excusive artwork, cocktails recipe and a white cardboard sleeve so they’re records stand out in your collection. Each album comes with a brief outline/synopsis of the album and download codes sometimes with added tracks/remixes.
How much does it cost: Vinyl Me Please offer a rolling monthly subscription, as well as 3 monthly and annual subscriptions. This is where things start to get a bit expensive though. Depending on where you live, is depending on how much you pay. If you like in the US, it’s $27a month for US. $75 is billed every three months, and an annual fee of $284. However if you live outside the US you’ll pay $44 a month, $120 every three months and $450 a year. That works out roughly as £30 a month, £82 every three months and £310 a year.
Is it worth it: Like Flying Vinyl you have no say in what you get sent. If you get an album that you either already have, or dislike you’ve wasted about £30, however if you get sent something that you adore, then it’s been money well spent. However the people are Vinyl Me, Please let you know what the next month’s record will be in advance and they are really friendly, so if you have a problem with that’s coming up they might be able to send you something else form their extensive back catalogue.
That Special Record
What’s the deal: That Special Record offers an interesting service that sources 2 records a month from over 100 labels, including L.I.E.S., Second Sleep, Caustica Waveform, Lobster Theremin and Bandura. These records are a bit danceable, but try and give you that “WTF is this!” feeling.
What do you get: Each month you will receive 2 dance/electronica records a month. These records are generally an album and an EP, 12” and a 7”or an extended EP and a single, two 12” records.
How much does it cost: That Special Vinyl offers three kinds of subscriptions. Monthly, 3 monhtky and half yearly. If you live in Europe these subscriptions cost €38.98/£29 a month, €113.97/£84 for a three month subscription and €221.94/166 for a half yearly subscription. However if you live outside Europe shipping is an extra €15.95.
Is it worth it: Unlike Flying Vinyl and Vinyl Me, Please you get to fill out questionnaire, which you detail the music you and more importantly don’t like. This way you only get sent records that match your profiling. This is a good feature, consider how much the subscriptions cost, as it means your success rate should very high. The only downside is you might miss out on something amazing that is considered slightly out of your choices.
Too Pure Singles Club
What’s the deal: Too Pure are obsessed with finding the best new, existing, and overlooked bands.
What do you get: You will receive 12 7” singles. The highlights of 2015 were Tigerclub, The Death of Pop, Falls, and Menace Beach’s Christmas single.
How much does it cost: If you live in the UK the subscription costs £40, but the rest of the world only costs £45. That’s just over £3 a record.
Is it worth it: In a word yes. During 2015 the Too Pure Singles club was one of my highlights. When I knew the latest edition was due I looking forward to that package dropping onto my door mat as I knew it would look amazing and be something I might not have heard before.
World Music Network
What’s the deal: The World Music Network sources, produces and releases the best new and over looked styles in world music.
What do you get: You get to pick 10, 20 or 30 albums a year from the World Music Network’s extensive back catalogue. These can be picked as and when throughout the year. If you love music, but don’t have the space or inclination for physical, you can select downloads, as well as CD and vinyl.
How much does it cost: The 10 album digital subscription costs £29.95, 20 albums for £54.95 or 30 albums for £74.95. The UK physical subscriptions cost 10 album for £39.95, 20 albums for £74.95 and 30 for £99.95. Europe costs 10 albums for £49.95, 20 albums for £94.95 and 30 albums for £129.95. The US costs 10 albums for $84.90, 20 albums for £159.90 and 30 albums for £225.90, and the Rest of the World costs 10 albums for £59.95, 20 albums for £104.95 and 30 albums for £149.95.
Is it worth it: Depending on your interest in world and roots music, this could be the subscription for you. The World Music Network’s diverse back catalogue should have enough albums for your subscription. However if you are not a fan of world or roots music maybe give this one a miss.
If you are on a budget however there are few cheaper options that, will still give you your new music fix, but won’t dent your bank balance...
Art is Hard Records Singles Club
What’s the deal: Each year Art is Hard Records curate a singles club. In the past these have included postcards and pizza. 2015’s incarnation consisted of 15 songs.
What do you get: The songs were uploaded ever fortnight to Art is Hard’s soundcloud as a free download. However if you wanted a physical copy, they did have 25 copies of hand lathe cut square 7”.
How much does it cost: If you just wanted the download nothing. However if you wanted one of the 7” singles, they cost £6, inc postage.
Is it worth it: Yes. Who doesn’t like free music, and if you like it enough, the cost of buying the 7” single is nominal compared to the other singles clubs. However Art is Hard never offered a subscription service, so if you missed a record, you missed it.
Activia Benz ilovesingles.club
What’s the deal: The Activia Benz label are at the forefront of electronic and dance music. Their ongoing ilovesingles.club, first established 2014, releases a single once ever couple of weeks.
What do you get: Each edition of the singles club features a different artist and genre that is uploaded to Activia Benz’ soundcloud.
How much does it cost: Nothing. It’s totally free!
Is it worth it: Yes!
Spotify: Discover Weekly
What’s the deal: Each Monday Spotify will add a new 2 hour playlist to your profile. The playlist is tailored to your tastes. Spotify monitor what you listen to and using their ‘Recommended Artists’ feature suggest more music that fits in with your previous playing suggestions.
What do you get: Discover Weekly suggests about 30 songs that you might be interested in. Sometimes they are way off, but more often than not they are pretty close to things that might tickle your musical fancy.
How much does it cost: Depending on your existing Spotify subscription, nothing. It’s all part of their service.
Is it worth it: A new 2 hour playlist every week? Even if you just go through it once and some a handful of songs that you like that has to be resounding Yes!