Where Does One Begin With YouTube's Many Vinyl Channels?
YouTube is usually a designated space for ALS Ice Bucket Challenges, baby cannibals named Charlie, and animals doing absolutely everything. Thankfully, it’s also useful for finding live performances and music videos by your favorite bands. In the last few years, the massive growth of YouTube has opened the door for countless people to launch their own channels — hell, even my seven-year-old nephew has one — that cover just about anything, from product reviews, tutorials, sports, cinema, vlogging and, of course, vinyl.
When wading through the crowded sea of music-based YouTube channels, it seems like the vast majority focus on the host's opinion regarding current releases. It’s a proven formula that generates subscribers, so I guess why not? With almost one million followers and over 2,000 videos, The Needle Drop has to be Goliath when it comes to reviewing new albums. Charismatic host Anthony Fantano has a very distinctive delivery that viewers seem to have a love/hate relationship with. He spends about 10-minutes giving an in depth break down for each LP and eventually bestows a score from 0 to 10, however, like Pitchfork, there is an overuse of 7s. If you veer toward electronic, hip-hop and indie-rock genres, The Needle Drop can be a great way to discover fresh music. Another channel that concentrates on first impressions and picks of the week is Vinyl Rewind. Eric, the self-proclaimed “Vinyl Geek,” puts a lot of time into the production value of his videos, and it shows. The set is very Mad Men-esque, and there are always little snippets of him spinning each song on the album, which is an added bonus rarely seen due to copyright issues. Overall, The Needle Drop and Vinyl Rewind have their merits but can quickly become tiresome if you don't love the on air personalities.
Getting back to channels that are vinyl-specific, a popular avenue for aspiring YouTubers is reviewing audio gear and relaying their unbiased opinions about which cartridges, amps, etc sound best to their ears for various budgets. HiViNyws is one of the better channels out there following this recipe. Broadcasting out of Singapore, most of the equipment is from that region, but in the global economy we live in, it’s very easy to order almost everything he reviews online.
Now, if you’re looking for general knowledge and a detailed turntable setup guide, Craig over at Vinyl TV has got you covered. For what the channel lacks in number of videos, it more than makes up for with quality content. Craig has obviously been in the game for longer than most collectors have walked this planet, and his years of experience come in handy when there is so much misinformation out there. In the few clips he has, Craig covers what to look for when buying vinyl, addresses frequently asked audio fidelity questions and produces a fantastic step-by-step record player alignment guide.
Finally, two of the fastest growing channels, Too Many Records and Vinyl Eyezz, are both rooted in the LA area and take rather different approaches. The former basically brings the viewer along for a journey of Matt’s — the channel’s vinyl-obsessed host — large collection and gives insight into his monthly hunt. Matt is collector through and though and obviously loves that aspect of the hobby, in addition to just enjoying the music. Too Many Records recently rebranded and launched a clever “A-Side/B-Side” format where Matt discusses what he’s expecting in the mail, albums he’s excited to listen to, and general music news for the month (A-Side), while in the B-Side, he unboxes and gives thoughts about everything discussed on the A-Side. Beyond that, he’ll promote record clubs and get out of the apartment to take viewers with him to various shops and events.
The latter, Vinyl Eyezz, is a very polarizing channel. While it does have plenty of engaging and well-produced material, it becomes painfully obvious that the host, Jarrett New, is learning as he goes, just like the rest of us. Of course, it would all be well and good if he mentioned this, but too many videos come across as fact, when they are often the opposite. Jarrett does, however, cover some interesting vinyl news and gives occasional sound advice on equipment — most notably, cautioning people to steer clear of Crosleys — so hopefully Vinyl Eyezz learns to stick with what it's good at.
Admittedly, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what's out there in music YouTube-land, but with the resurgence of vinyl, we're hoping more and more keep popping up.