Old Wax Merges With New Technology

There is a very simple audio question making the rounds these days; why vinyl? The answer is just as simple-millions of music lovers are discovering the superior sound that vinyl offers. Add these newcomers to the millions of audiophiles and collectors who are already sold on the benefits of analog sound and one can understand why there is a ‘vinyl revival.’

With the renewed interest in vinyl records, many web sites have been launched to help vinyl lovers find their rare audio treasures. One such site, www.wax.fm, can not only steer you in the direction of online retailers who sell vinyl records, but in a unique twist also alerts visitors to real ‘brick and mortar’ stores in the US.

The man behind wax.fm is Rob Lambert who has, not only a keen interest in vinyl, but is developing a unique, interactive website to help his visitors with all their vinyl needs. I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Rob, let’s learn more about the intriguing site:

Why vinyl, what is the allure? When did you start collecting, what kind of collection do you have?

“I have always loved all kinds of music in all formats. I was born in the early seventies, so my mother had a decent collection of records that included artists that I still love to this day: CSNY, Joni Mitchell, etc. But by the time I started purchasing my own music, it was on cassette and then CDs. I still have a huge CD collection (and the MP3 versions of those on my computers) and so I am not anti-digital music. Initially, in the early 2000’s, I started buying my all-time favorite records solely for the artwork to frame and hang on my walls. But one thing led to another and, and as I mention in my “about” section, I bought two palettes of (random) records which led to me actually getting a nice turntable. It then became about the whole experience. Sitting down and LISTENING to the music, looking at the artwork, and yes, the superior sound.

Today my collection is all over the board (see my favorite artists below). I probably have 1500 records or so (not counting lots of leftover boxes of junk from my big palette purchases).”

When did you launch wax.fm?

“End of October 2008.”

Why the fm domain?

“On a technical level, .fm is the country code top-level domain for the Federated States of Micronesia, a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean.

Initially, I was going to build a website primarily for mobile devices. I wanted a name that was as short as possible (easy to type on little devices). An alternative to “.com” allows the possibility of finding a good, short three letter domain. I noticed the exploding trend of music-related sites using the “.fm” extension (last.fm, blip.fm, sky.fm, jazz.fm, etc). FM conjures up the feeling of classic rock radio, especially of the 70’s, and to me, that goes hand-in-hand with the old school technology of vinyl records. The first short word related to vinyl records that came to mind was “wax” and sure enough, wax.fm was available!”

Tell me about the future plans for the site.

“For sure:

* Better integration of the main site with the blog (see http://blog.wax.fm for some videos of me and other initial blog posts)

* Continue to add more records and record data

* Continue to add more vendors where specific records can be purchased online

* Continue to add more brick-and-mortar record stores

* Add record fairs to the “Find Records in Your City” sections

Other strong possibilities:

* Allow outside users to rank and comment on record stores and fairs

* Mobile/iPhone friendly version for researching records while shopping at thrift stores, garage sales, used record shops, record fairs, etc.

* Additional audio and video samples of records (but I don’t want to make digital music a central part of the site)”

Where do you see vinyl, in let’s say 20 years?

“You know, I really have no idea. I truly hope that bands and labels continue the current trend to put out their new music on vinyl (and include a digital download with the purchase). It seems that the younger generations are currently really discovering, not only the allure of buying new music on vinyl, but also classic music on used vinyl from the Beatles to Pink Floyd to the Ramones – I hope that trend continues too.”

What kind of music do you listen to?

“Some of my all-time favorites: Dylan, Zappa, Hendrix, Miles, Coltrane, Mingus.

More modern 90’s/2000’s favorites: Wilco, Flaming Lips, Arcade Fire, My Bloody Valentine, Sufjan Stevens, My Morning Jacket, Beck, Radiohead.

I have a place in my heart for classic metal/hard rock: Sabbath, Megadeath, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, etc.

And all over the board: Johnny Cash, Public Enemy, Fela Kuti, Ali Farke Toure, Phish, Django Reinhart, Nick Drake, Grateful Dead.”

Tell me more about your company Zabada, I understand that you are working on a new service for the web and your mobile device that will make finding and collecting vinyl records easier and more fun.

“Zabada, Inc. is my company and the company technically owns wax.fm. The initial spark for me actually getting to work on a vinyl-themed website was my desire to look up information about records from my iPhone while looking for records at fairs and stores. But once I started building the site, I decided to put most of my energy into collecting data on records and then record stores. At that point the mantra for my site came to me: “helping you find your favorite albums on vinyl-both online and in the real world” and I decided to hold off on building the mobile interface and build a standard website (by the way, the site is relatively usable on the iPhone as it exists right now!) There are lots of great options to buy records online, but I decided that it would be great to make it as easy as possible for a user to, for example, on one page be able to see all of the options and prices for buying the Beach Boys’ Pets Sounds on the internet including used versions and reissues. As I mentioned earlier, this is one area where I continue to put a lot of energy to improve the results and vendor options.”

So here we have new technology merging with a rather old audio format that is now becoming mainstream again. The future looks bright for vinyl records and the future is also bright for www.wax.fm as Rob continues to develop his plans and help vinyl lovers find their treasures.

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates http://www.collectingvinylrecords.com, where you can pick up a copy of his FREE ebook called “The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting.” Have your vinyl records appraised at http://www.vinylrecordappraisals.com.

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