The subscription-based media company makes the claim that it is the “Netflix of vinyl,” and offers users a hand-curated selection of records delivered on a regular basis, sorted based on user’s moods (or #vibes as they’re billed), including: #betweenthesheets, #rainyday, #gamenight, #work, and #danceparty.
Of course, VNYL isn’t the first service that offers curated record selection. Vinyl Me, Please is another site that offers limited edition, members-only LP pressings, access to a weekly music digest, discounted prices on records and gear, and even a cocktail pairing with your favorite record(s). The difference is that Vinyl Me, Please is a purchasing service where VNYL offers rentals and records for sale at a discounted price. If you like what’s delivered to your door, keep it. If you don’t, send it on its way. Both services require you to sign up on a waiting list, with Vinyl Me, Please offering feedback in 24-48 hours and VNYL is promising its first shipments will go out February 2015. (Exclusivity: something that’s popular with record collectors and new adopters alike.)
VNYL successfully executed a short Kickstarter campaign, where they tested membership options at a discounted price. All 777 backers received offers including early bird record deliveries and discounted memberships. At its finale, VNYL pledged $36K of its $10K goal, which is money that will be used for packaging, shipping, and paying for a small garage to keep the inventory and humans at work behind the hand-selected goods.
Services like these are filling the void in a market that wants to drink from both the digital and analog ends of the sound spectrum. According to Time magazine and Nielsen Soundscan, vinyl sales are up 52% in the US from 2013, with over 9.2M sales in 2014 (despite the fact that album sales as a whole are down). This is the highest sales have been for wax since Nielsen began tracking in 1991 according to the Wall Street Journal, and UK sales are not far behind, either.
The next step in filling this analog-to-digital space is finding out exactly how to best merge the two. VNYL allows subscribers a space to comment on the records they received and to share their thoughts with other users and the curation team by “Adding Your Verse” to the conversation. (Remember, contrary to Vinyl Me, Please, users do not select specific records, only #vibes, so this feature could provide strong insight to both renters and curators.) Still, there’s a long way to go before building a space where the solitude of picking and listening to physical records can be merged with the shareability of digital, streaming music in a way that’s comfortable for all parties.
As reported by mic.com, VNYL founder Nick Alt says:
"Right now I feel penalized for not being able to share what I'm listening to and get decent recommendations on vinyl that I may be into… [The inspiration for VNYL] was taking some of the best parts of Beats, Spotify and SoundCloud and translating them into a tangible experience."
The inspiration is there. Now it’s time to see if these delivery services actually deliver.