📜 Feature What type of collector are you?

Feature article
A recent thread got me thinking about how we all collect music differently. We each go about it in our own way.

PXL_20220108_045612253-01.jpegSome of us here at the Corner, of course, collect by the label itself--maybe we try to own everything we know of that was released by the label. Or like me, some of us may go after a subset of the label's recordings, such as focusing on owning the entire A&M/CTi catalog in one form or another, or owning a complete set of the A&M Audiophile "SPJ" series. There are other labels beyond A&M that have much smaller catalogs, and there are fans who collect releases by label for those catalogs also.

Some may collect by the physical format. Since 8-track tape and 4-track reels were lesser in number than what cassettes would become, they are good targets for someone to collect. Others may collect only LPs, where others might focus on 45 RPM singles or 12-inch singles. Still others focus on first-pressing CDs from the early to mid 80s, and likewise, some might collect releases from a specific audiophile label, or collect direct-to-disc or dbx-encoded records. Another niche is picture discs. Each of us finds our niche in collecting formats like these.

For artists and bands, collecting can be a broad pursuit or very specific.

The all-inclusive way to collect one artist or band is to, simply, buy up all of their releases. This can include original albums, reissues on various formats, anthologies and compilations, even other recordings that the artist(s) appeared on as a featured guest or backing musician.

It could be tedious to collect artists who have dozens of albums, but it is still possible. Breaking it down somewhat, a collector might want the entire catalog on LP, whereas someone else wants a complete set of CDs of all the releases.

For bands that had different phases, such as Genesis (the Peter Gabriel era or the Phil Collins era, or albums only with Steve Hackett), some might choose to stick to only one of these niches. And some hone it down further still by collecting their releases only on the originally released label in the UK (Charisma, Virgin) where others might want all the major global releases.

PXL_20220104_160038582-01.jpegSome might want to collect all of the songs released by the artist, regardless of format. So, a complete set for them includes the B-sides from singles, non-album tracks from compilations and soundtracks, etc. But this does not include purchasing anthologies or box sets that already contain the same music from the original releases. It could, however, include remixes, especially those that would have appeared on 12-inch singles, or had notable radio or 45-RPM single edits. It's not uncommon for this type of collector to be forced into purchasing an entire anthology CD just to get one unreleased track! (In which case, the ability to download individual tracks today, if available, makes an end run around that limitation.)

For any of these types of collecting, an individual may or may not approach them as a completist. Someone purchasing a specific genre or sub-genre of music, for instance, might never be able to buy everything, but a good portion of their collection includes a lot of titles that cover their chosen specialties.

However we collect our music, it is always rewarding to complete a set, and it's an ongoing pursuit in fulfilling other niches in our collections as we find new items in our travels. And because we all do it differently, there is never a right or wrong way to go about it. Collecting anything is one of our passions in life, and it is always interesting to observe how others do it--seeing what they collect, and how they go about collecting it.

How do you collect your music? And, what do you collect? Do you collect anything beyond music? Let us know in the comments below!
I started my record collection by happenstance. This was as a child, since without funds of my own, the records I got came as gifts from my sister, my mom and dad, and even my minister. Early 45s came from the tastes of my sister, a budding teenager with a taste for the doo-wop/R&B sounds of the 50s. This I find in my collection, singles like the original "Sh-Boom" by The Chords, and their rarer follow-up called "Zippity-Zum", both on CAT Records.
Here, let me play you that early 45:

As things moved to the early 60s, albums started to infiltrate my collection, still mostly as gifts. By this point I was taking piano lessons, so people started gifting me records by Van Cliburn on the serious side, and Ferrante & Teicher on the more popular side. Records that I requested from mom & dad tended to center around TV theme tunes. So I had albums of themes by people like Milton DeLugg, and a favored MATCH GAME theme the Bert Kaempfert did, but in the US all we got was a sound-alike version by Billy Vaughn.

Then one day, the television cranked out a guest appearance by someone named Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass. This fed my appetite for catchy instrumentals, and the folks brought home a couple of albums by these guys. I was in heaven and wore those two out - WHIPPED CREAM and GOING PLACES. All of me albums at this point were mono and I was playing them on a hand-me-down suitcase record player from my late grandpop.

So I was off ands running, collecting albums by these Tijuana Brass guys. As each record came out, I'd purchase it. By then, I'd graduated to a stereo phonograph, one of those portable plastic-blue jobbies with detachable speakers. All of the TJB albums from then on were of the stereo variety, and I even went back and upgraded both WHIPPED CREAM and GOING PLACES, one at a time as finances allowed, to the stereo versions.

I continued with my A&M fascination, but only so far as to branch out to Sergio Mendes after hearing "Like A Lover" on FAMILY PORTRAIT. And I also still gravitated toward instrumentals and TV Themes liked the popular MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and HAWAII-FIVE-O THEMES.

In the 70s, I got a job in radio, and once again went into the happenstance mode. As the stations tossed away perfectly good records, I grabbed whatever I could of recognizable artists, and virtually anything on the A&M label. And the collection grew quickly. Of course, I'd still buy albums from my favorites as they came along, unless a freebie happened first. Rock stations had little use for a Lani Hall album, and soft stations had little use for Peter Frampton or Supertramp. So I lucked into a lot of stuff.

Also part of the time working in radio, there were other toss-aways when a record got too banged up from on-air usage. Now you might think, "Ick, why would you want scratched records?" The answer is that - not the whole album was scratched. So I could own eleven twelfths of a popular James Taylor album for nothing. That seemed a good deal at the time, and it's an even better deal today. With modern software, I can digitize an old scratched record and most times make it sound perfectly fine. And back then, a second copy of the same scratched record could provide perhaps a different track that was scratched, again giving me the ability to reassemble the album on reel-to-reel with only the good tracks from the two records. Fortunately, when a scratched record was tossed, it usually had a label stuck onto the cover indicating the scratched track, so I could avoid it if I didn't want to risk ruining a good stylus.

So the collection grew and grew. I still managed to gravitate toward A&M product, but in the later 70s, real life things like girlfriends, dating, travelling, and managing my work career kind of put things in a holding pattern. If I had time for records, dragging out an old Tijuana Brass record was better-sounding than the albums Herb was putting out in the 70s. I'd listened to those newer albums once and then file them away for future examination. Carpenters records were a priority in the 70s, as I followed along with their career. Their hits were all over the radio, and they got played on my record player as well. I particularly enjoyed that OFFERING album as it was something not played to death on radio.

But I was focused on hit music at this time. I was known to even buy an occasional K-Tel record of a bunch of hits! So while albums from Sergio Mendes were showing up on Bell Records and Elektra, I'd grab excess copies from work and file them away, never even listening to them.

As the 80s wore on, I heard our radio station playing a record by Hern Alpert - "Route 101". It was catchy and caught my ear just liked the old days. Here was a great instrumental that was good enough to be played on pop radio, and I had to have it. The PD at the station managed to grab me a copy of the four-song 12" from FANDANGO. I liked what I heard and decided I'd play catchup. My last Herb Alpert record was probably Herb/Hugh. I didn't even own RISE at that point, having missed its popularity somehow.

So, on one lunch hour, I went out to a bunch of record stores in the area and picked up RISE, BEYOND, MAGIC MAN, BLOW YOUR OWN HORN, BULLISH, and the full FANDANGO all at once. Instant catch up. When I got them home, finding time to play them all was difficult, so I listened to them a little bit at a time.

Meanwhile, another side of me was discovering The Beatles. I'd had their Red/Blue album sets having won them on a radio station contest when they first came out - another lucky thing that happened to me. Those mostly singles on those sets kept me in whatever Beatles mode I was in for the whole decade. In the early 80s, an album called RARITIES in the States was released, and I grabbed a copy. The idea of alternate recordings fascinated me and sent me down the rabbit hole of Beatles recordings. I ended up with a nice set of Capitol albums from the late 70s, along with some imports that had rare tracks on them.

A little later in the decade, CDs became a thing, and I simply had to have all of these old favored albums on the new format. I'm glad I did too, because for years, CDs of some of the Tijuana Brass albums and even some of Herb's solo albums commanded high prices as they went out of print.

The act of logging onto this forum in 1997 for the first time, launched me into another big record-quest, tracking down rarer albums of Sergio's and Herb's and Lani and the BMB - things I'd overlooked over the years. I'd find that I had one or two Sandpipers albums, but not all. Or I'd own two of Jimmie Rodgers albums but not the third. Used record stores became a haunt as I looked to fill in whatever I could. And I found that some of Sergio's latter day stuff was actually pretty good, once you got into that 80's-mode sound.

I found myself acquiring more and more Brazilian music from people like Edu Lobo and Dory Caymmi, but there almost always was a path back to A&M somewhere.

Recently, I've explored the A&M CTi records that came and went without my knowing or caring. I'm finding some good stuff there, and some stuff I don't really care for.

All along the way, I collected a bunch of 45s, in the same manor as the albums. Some were purchased, most were found on throwaway piles.

These days, if I discover a track I have to have, I'll look first to see if it's buried in my collection somewhere first. Then I'll check new sources like Amazon to see what's available on CD. Failing that, it's off to the used CD market of Discogs or eBay, and finally, I'll take a clean record version, whether on an album, a 45, or a compilation.
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The act of logging onto this forum in 1997 for the first time, launched me into another big record-quest, tracking down rarer albums of Sergio's and Herb's and Lani and the BMB - things I'd overlooked over the years.
We were, and still are, dangerous to the wallet... 😁
My entree into music collecting was quite a bit like Harry's. I heard the TJB on TV, first heard Sergio on a compilation album (although mine was Music Box), and got a lot of "free" music at work, although mine was a music store instead of a radio station.

I'm not sure if my very first time hearing the TJB was on TV or in a boat, but it was one of those two. These friends of ours had a boat with a 4-track tape deck in it, and one day they were playing the Whipped Cream album in the boat. To this day, when I hear "Green Peppers" it puts me right back into that sunny day in the boat.

From there I bought the Going Places LP for my mom as a Mother's Day gift, although I liked it more than she ever did.

At first I bought the occasional LP and would play them on our home-model phonograph, or as Dad would call it "the good phonograph," which was a cabinet unit that had one speaker. From there, I moved to an 8-track portable unit which I received for Christmas, probably because my family was sick of hearing the Tijuana Brass played on the "good phonograph." When I was 13 I started working after school at my dad's business, which was an auto parts store with a music store in one corner. I was put in charge of ordering the music, among other things. From that point, I collected most of my A&M stuff on 8-track. As we all know, that format was not long for this world, soon giving way to cassettes. So as we got into the late '70s, I had to start over.

Around that time, the "audiophile" market began to be a big thing and we expanded the our music store into that type of equipment. (Previously we'd only had portable and car stereos, along with TVs, and records and tapes.) So I bought myself a nice Technics and Akai component system, plunged into LP collecting and eventually replaced all of my 8-tracks with vinyl.

Fortunately I never did get into collecting pre-recorded cassettes -- since we had multiple tape-decks at the store, I made my own compilations for car listening from my records. The pre-recorded ones didn't sound that great anyway.

When CDs came along I was determined not to re-buy my whole collection. I'd just buy the favorites. "Yeah, right." So today I have a wall-sized CD rack that has I don't know how many hundreds of CDs in it. Before streaming music was huge, I made a lot of compilations on CD, with accompanying artwork to go along with them, and I still have all of those today. I would dare say my homemade copies of Warm, Volume 2 and The Brass Are Comin' look better than the real releases that eventually came out.

When I discovered upon A&M Corner (which happened on my very first evening of web-surfing) I had put the A&M music on the back burner in favor of other stuff. Reading the various threads made me want to listen to that music again, and of course that led to me learning about releases I never would have heard of otherwise. So A&M returned to my frequent-plays list, and is still there today.

In 2013 we closed the music store, and in 2015 we moved the auto parts store into a larger building. The old store sat vacant for five years, but it did serve one purpose: My whole vinyl collection had been living there. Finally my mom sold it, and one day when we were hauling some stuff out of there, my wife called me with a question: A lady wanted to buy all of my vinyl and was offering $50 for it. She said she had three teenage daughters who were into vinyl and loved the '70s music, and they would give the records a good home. So with a huge lump in my throat I said "OK."

I don't consider myself a completist at all... there are no artists which I have every single one of their releases, although there are quite a few that I own all their studio albums. The artist I probably have the most music by is Herb Alpert -- I have pretty much everything he's done with a few "mid-period" exceptions. Second place would have to go to Sergio Mendes -- I have everything he's put out since he joined A&M, although nothing previous to that. I think my biggest non-A&M collection would be Elton John.

These days I'm more of a packaging bug... I love a good box set. I'm a sucker for those super deluxe reissues, although for a good share of them it's "one and done." I bought the super deluxe version of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, so I'll probably not buy the 50th Anniversary Mega-Deluxe Double Platinum edition (or whatever they call it) when it comes out. I have a small collection of the mini-LP reissues -- the Sergio Mendes ones are really cool, but I think the coolest mini-LP I have is Sticky Fingers, by the Rolling Stones, which contains a real zipper just like the original LPs had.
How do you collect your music? And, what do you collect? Do you collect anything beyond music? Let us know in the comments below!
I've been actively acquiring music since age 5. I don't really think of myself as a collector. For me, music per se is a continuous, ubiquitous and thoughtless activity, on a par with eating, working and searching for my autographed copy of a Pharoah Sanders CD that's been "lost" for two years on. In the 1980s and 1990s I scoured magazines and reference books, chatted with other record store workers, radio station announcers and musicians to discover music; and for the past 20 years, the internet... I favor the CD format given the compromise balancing spacial considerations against capacity. I enjoy organizing music (physically and electronically) and spend a great deal of time in curator / researcher mode. I like to experience the releases as the artists themselves recorded them, so I purchase and listen in chronological order. I tend to be a completist and mostly focus on "classical" and jazz while non-rock "pop" music from 1955-1970 fills the void for toe-tapping melodies and such. Beyond the US/UK, I like French and Brazilian music. Before I got married, my house had records stored in every room, the drums were in the 2nd bedroom, the piano was in the dining room...you get the idea. I collect nothing else...although, when I was younger and relatively immature, I was collecting girlfriends for awhile, but quickly learned that was a very bad idea...given the inevitable diminishing returns.
I don't really think of myself as a collector.
I try to tell myself that also, but then I look behind me at the record shelves and that blows my argument all apart. 😁

I never intend to collect anything for collecting's sake, but when I get into certain artists and run out of albums, I start scouring different sources to find the non-album tracks. Not to complete a collection of all the songs, but just to experience all of the music. So in a roundabout way, it is collecting. And it is kind of neat to own something that not many others are aware of.

When I start on any artist, I tend to start with what is known as their most popular and/or best album, or start with an anthology. If I find I'm playing them regularly, that's a good sign I should start expanding. I tend to stick to a similar era as the most popular/best album at first, and then work my way outwards from there.
As mentioned elsewhere, I was an average coin collector back the late 50s, early 60s into the 80s. Then that hobby fell by the wayside and I ended up selling it all off before moving south.

At one time, back in the late 60s, early 70s, when my mom was fascinated with flea markets and such, I found myself collecting Pepsi-Cola stuff. There were, and are, lots of Coca-Cola collectors, but Pepsi stuff was a bit rarer and probably not as collectable, so I'd look for odd things with the Pepsi logo on it. Here's an old picture of a shelf I had some Pepsi stuff on, mostly bottles of different shapes, glassware, but other stuff too including a metal friction car.


These days, when I drink soda, I prefer Diet or Zero Sugar Coke. Go figure.
Too early for Crystal Pepsi, huh? 😁

While it's not music, I've taken up collecting shot glasses from anywhere I travel. They're small, and I can often find unusual ones with unique features. I already have a small wall display case nearly filled.
I'm a model train guy too. O gauge Lionel, specifically. I'm working on a new permanent layout in a back corner of the parts store with a friend of mine. It's cool! I tend to time my work sessions by albums...."OK, I'll go home as soon as Primal Roots is finished" or "OK, Ill do Going Places and S.R.O., that'll be it for tonight."
I do NOT collect lunch boxes or cereal boxes!! I do collect decent albums or CD's in my collection. Also my DVD & blu-ray movies collection as well.
If I really like an artist, I will work to find all their releases. Since finding this site, I have been looking for old A&M label artists on lp at used record stores and thrift stores. I have gotten lucky on occasion. Many of my collection favorites are both lp and cd but not all are available as cd for some of the albums that I have on lp. I have also gotten extra copies of some of them when I find them in good condition or maybe a different cover art. For example, Brasil'66 Greatest Hits, I have both brown and green covers.
Too early for Crystal Pepsi, huh? 😁

While it's not music, I've taken up collecting shot glasses from anywhere I travel. They're small, and I can often find unusual ones with unique features. I already have a small wall display case nearly filled.
I have shot glasses as well but not a huge number of them. I pick them up when traveling as well.
My other collections that I have done on my own are insects, rocks, minerals and fossils. These are ongoing except for the insects and I sell some items now and then for spending money.
I inherited a coin collection and stamp collections and found some good saleable stamps in them.
I consider my self a "completist" in the things I collect, but fall far short of it. Mainly because to be a completist would cost too darn much!

My collections consist of A&M Records (where I'm nowhere near as complete as I know LPJim is) and I.R.S. Records where I am easily 99% complete in the A&M era of the label, with decreasing degrees of completeness during the MCA era and Capital/CEMA era.

I also collected early Rhino Records (when they were mainly a novelty label). Today I find myself seeking out Rounder Records in the used record haunts. Historically significant (and not so significant) folk, bluegrass, country, avant garde, cajun and other oddities across their swath of subsidiary labels.

Then there's books. When Ballantine Books launched the Del Rey imprint for SF and Fantasy in 1977, I pretty much bought everything released, 6 paperbacks a month on average. Aftger Judy-Lynn del Rey died in 1986, the loss of her influence became apparent after about a year when the last of the books she acquired and/or edited came out. Lester del Rey's death a few years later kind of was the death knell for the imprint. Marrying and starting a family reduced my disposable income so having less to spend on books went hand-in-hand with the less-than-desirable reads the new editors were releasing. So I was at I'd estimate 99% complete during the Judy-Lynn/Lester era, but not too much after that. Honestly, it's been a couple decades since I read a SF or Fantasy book I thoroughly enjoyed. Today Del Rey books is but a shell of the number one SF publishing giant they once were, having shed their once mighty backlist (they were the publisher of more Hugo and Nebula winners than any other SF publisher) and mainly publishes original SW novels and a lot of fluff. Their one-time foray into Manga a decade or so ago was probably the worst move they ever made.

I used to buy or subscribe to many magazines, but not so much anymore. I have every issue of StarLog and Fangoria. I have National Geographic complete from 1929 to 1990. I was going to retart my Nat Geo subscription (as finding back issues is not to difficult) but the magazine has now become a disappointing socio-political rag, no longer recognizable as the iconic educational magazine it once was.

Lego. Back in the day Lego would put out 20 to 40 sets twice a year. Easy to collect, but too expensive to get everything. Nowadays they release that many sets every month, so keeping up would be next to impossible. Especially with one or two sets every month north of the $199 price point. I have to be select in what sets I really really really want and try to budget specific sets on a calendar and hope that another more desirable release doesn't come out before I achieve the purchase. Which is what always happens! My collection stands at 2000+ sets and more than 1 million bricks and elements.

The first thing I got into collecting was stamps, back in 1971 when I was 11. At school one of the teachers started a stamp club. I only collect US Stamps, but not by choice at first. At 11 when my mom bought me a "stamp book" I was disappointed it only had pages for US Stamos while all my friends had pages for lots and lot of colorful stamps from around the world. But I quickly learned that specializing in one country was challenge enough! SO I'm glad my mom didn't get me a "world album." I kept at it well into my 20s. Being in the Navy often meant I'd lapse for a year or so, but quickly played catch up. As with the books, marriage and family derailed maintaining the collection with any regularity, but I'd usually buy the year end collection package put out by the post office, to keep some degree of continuity. Unfortunately the advent of self-adhesive stamps has more or less killed philately (the actual name for Stamp Collecting). Other than a special commemorative sheet like the Hollywood Legend series or other items that interest me, that hobby is dead to me... thanks probably entirely due to self adhesive postage.

Other odd things I collect are Star Wars and Star Trek items, to include, books, lunch boxes some toys and the like. Any movie-related items that tickle my fancy, like my life size Gizmo and Strip plushes, posed on my shelf with a box (still sealed and probably nasty inside) Gremlins cereal. I also have my mom's Oz Books from when she was a kid, several in first editions (some L. Frank Baums, a few Ruth Plumly Thompsons and others). Then there is DIsney themed Happy Meal toys, and other fast food premium items that tied in to movies (Flintstone movie glasses, Batman movie glasses and the like. That would include regular fast food paper goods/packaging tied to movies as well, like all cup sizes and french fry containers and burger wrappers with Toy Story theming and the like.

In my Navy travels I collected Coca Cola cans from around the world and other Coke Collectibles (Harry will appreciate that I do have a small shelf of Pepsi items including a can of Crystal Pepsi). My most recent additions are the spherical Coke bottles from Disney's new Star Wars themed areas. It's always cool when to items you collect cross paths! (Star Wars Lego sets are another).

My weirdest (some say sickest) collection is cups and napkins from the various production places I've worked that were used by celebrities. I have cups and napkins and plastic utensils that were used by Ricardo Montalban, Burt Bacharach, Florence Henderson, Ron Popiel, Stephen Spielberg and many others.

That's my collection in a nutshell!

Things I'd collect if I could afford it or won the lottery: Antique cars (I need a 1932 Duesenberg), The Criterion Collection of DVDs, Authentic WWII Memorabilia, Museum quality Paleo reproductions (like my friend Keith who had a T Rex skeleton in his living room).

--Mr Bill
I agree on the LEGO sets. Seriously, why did they discontinue a $350 Death Star just to bring out another one that is multiple times higher in price? Same with the Millenium Falcon. Even worse is the price escalation on discontinued sets. I've always wanted the Fallingwater set from the architectural series, but good luck finding one. Unfortunately there isn't much in the way of architectural sets currently available that I like. There are a few other sets I wouldn't mind getting like the Super Mario sets.

eBay is also awash in fake LEGO sets--the boxes look identical, and the sets use the same product code...until you notice that the logo is not LEGO.
A genuine Burt Bacharach-used Napkin, eh? Quite interesting...but if Hal used it too, then you'd really have something there.
My favorite genre of music is jazz so that is most of what I’ve collected over the years. I collect mainly artists I like regardless of the label, but have a certain fondness for several labels which I tend to pursue. A&M of course is a favorite. I also collect many lps on DOT, VERVE, PACIFIC JAZZ and probably my biggest obsession is IMPULSE. One thing to note… I file my lps by label, not alphabetical. There is a certain look that the spines of certain labels have which I consider to really be cool. The orange & black of the Impulses. The modern cool look of the A&M/CTI spines. The colorful spines on the Verve gatefold lps. I love the look of keeping these labels grouped together which I could not enjoy if I filed alphabetically. Does anyone else file by label?
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