The Collector Series is a photography and interview project documenting vinyl collectors in their most natural and intimate environment.
Want to get featured on #vinyloftheday? Send us a photo of your collection and a few words about your collection to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Steve Rovner
Location: Tampa, FL
Size of collection: 4,000 LP's (and growing daily)
Tell us a bit more about yourself:
I'm 58 years old, married, with 26 and 21 year old sons. I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, moved to New York City in 1983 after graduating school, moved to Greenville, SC in 1996, and made my final move down here to Tampa, FL in 2000. During the day, I advise large companies on tax matters..
What started your interest in music?
I can't point to one specific incident. I do vaguely recall seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan when I was about 6 years old. Even as a child there was something about music that gave me a warm, happy, out-of-this-world feeling. I used to listen to WKBW AM 1520 radio every night in the mid-late '60's by tucking my transistor radio under my pillow. That interest has never waned. I surround myself with music.
How long have you been collecting?
With respect to vinyl, this is really a 2-part answer. I first started when I was 10 or 11 years old, in 1969. The first album I bought was Paul Revere & The Raiders "Revolution!", because I loved the cover. When I graduated 6th grade my aunt and uncle told me I could buy any 3 records I wanted, as their gift. I picked out Paul McCartney's "McCartney", Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and The Guess Who's "American Woman". That was the start of my real collecting. Through college and law school I accumulated about 1,000 LP's. But, in 1987, after moving apartments and hauling my collection too many times to count, I decided to ditch my LP's in exchange for "better sound forever" compact discs. I sold all my vinyl to St. Marks Sounds in the East Village. In 2012 I got the vinyl itch again. From March 2012 through today I've gone from zero vinyl to approximately 4,000 LP's. I am truly addicted to music.
What’s up with your listening setup? Can you tell us more about it?
I have 2 set ups. One room has my vintage '70s stereo: Yamaha CA-810 integrated amp, Yamaha CT-810 tuner, Technics SL1400 MK2 turntable with a Shure V15 Type IV cartridge, and Pioneer HPM-100 speakers. The room where I store all my vinyl has a Linn Sondek LP12 turntable with Ekos tonearm and Arkiv cartridge, a Linn Kairn pre-amp, and Linn 5140 speakers powered by 3 Linn 5105 power amps. I split my listening time between the two systems.
What does your collection mean to you?
Escape from the pressures and annoyances of everyday life. No matter what is going on in my life, putting an album on the stereo clears my head and transports me to somewhere else. Sometimes that "somewhere else" is back to a specific moment in my life. Sometimes it's to somewhere I've never been. Sometimes it's to a zen state state of mind, or a psychedelic state of mind. Getting high without the drugs.
How has record collecting affected other areas of your life?
What other areas of my life? ;-) Actually, it's allowed me to meet and interact with interesting collectors and musicians from all over the world. It's a great community of friendly and knowledgeable folks who share my passion. Plus, it keeps me feeling youthful.
Do you have a record collecting philosophy? A price you won’t pay, maybe, or a total number of records you won’t go past. Do you buy reissues?
My overall philosophy(s) are (1) I prefer to buy local. Tampa/St.Petersburg/Orlando, FL is lucky to have a wealth of great record stores (in no particular order, Sound Exchange, Mojo Books & Records, Microgroove, Steelworker, Kingfish, Planet Retro, Daddy Cool, Park Ave.) I frequent these stores as often as I can to dig through the used vinyl, and to pick up new releases. Support local business! For hard to find pressings that don't turn up locally, I use Discogs and Ebay; (2) I prefer to buy original pressings. If there is an album I want that was released in the 60's, 70's, or 80's, I search out first pressings. I tend to avoid later re-pressings, and recent reissues, except in limited situations. I want to hear the music as it was mixed and pressed when it was released. Plus,I feel like I am holding an artifact when I buy original pressings; (3) I buy quality used vinyl. I won't buy anything less than a strong VG+, both cover and vinyl. I shoot for VG++ / NM- as frequently as I can. The cover in original shrink is always a bonus; (4) I fund musician's Kickstarter and Pledge Music campaigns whenever I can. It puts more money in the artist's pocket; and (5) I'm a completest. If I have one album by a band/musician, I likely have their entire catalog.
An overriding philosophy is that I continually seek out new bands and new music. Being a baby-boomer, my interests are rooted in rock but I refuse to be one of those folks who only listens to the music of my youth. I think it's important to look backwards to expose myself to musicians who came before my time. Likewise, I think it's important to seek out young bands that have that special "something" that grabs my attention and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up (shout outs to Titus Andronicus, Jukebox The Ghost, Killiam Shakespeare and Kendrick Lamar). Never confine your listening to one genre, or let it be biased by a preconceived set of notions. Heck, I never liked the Grateful Dead until I was 50, and now I love them because I listen to them with a different ear (improvisational, jazz-based).
As to pricing, I don't see a reason to pay exorbitant amounts for certain used records. But, with new LP's costing anywhere from $20-$50, I won't hesitate to pay that amount for NM- used records if I really want the title and it's not commonly seen in the used bins. Likewise, there are plenty of nice condition used records that can be had for $5-$10-$15, and are well worth it when building a collection. There is a level of collecting for every budget.
What’s your comfort record, the one you can always go back to? What makes it so special?
That's like asking me which of my sons I love more than the other! There is no answer other than I love them both. Likewise, I love all my albums. On any given day, I may love one more than the others, but that changes daily or even hourly. Depending on my mood, I can be totally in love with and entranced by an album at a given time. At other times, the same album might not do much for me. I love individual albums at different times and for revolving reasons. This explains why I never put together year-end or lifetime "best of" lists. I can't narrow it down that tightly, and even if I did, it would change the next day.
Steve and the legendary band, "Death"
Any tips for other record collectors out there?
Enjoy the music. Let it expand your mind. Let it expand your worldview. Let it connect you with other music fans and collectors out there. Spend more of your money on vinyl (CD's/streaming/downloads) than you do on the stereo equipment you play it on. Pass along your passion for music to your children. Support musicians in any way you can - buy records, attend concerts, buy swag. They need our support to keep going. Finally, don't let anyone convince you that a piece of music you like "sucks". They may not like it, but don't let it distract you from your enjoyment of it.
Check out Steve's collection via:
#vinyloftheday is a vinyl community marketplace for everyone to share their collections, wantlists, discover new music and interact with other fellow collectors. If you want to beta test the app, please register your interest here: http://cratedig.us/app