Lauren Halliday aka record_lady is a record collector and music enthusiast from Houston, who started her vinyl collection back in 2011, and in the period of a few years she has amassed about 800 LPs.
In a new interview in our “Record Collectors” series, Lauren shares how she choses which albums will find place in her collection, she also tells us about her music listening gear, and more.
How did you go about starting your vinyl collection, and how long has it been since you are a record collector?
I got started in 2011 when I bought an inexpensive turntable and borrowed some of my parents’ records to see if the hobby was something I wanted to invest in. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was.
What was the first vinyl you bought or received?
The first record I ever bought was a 45 of Carl Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes at Sun Studios in Memphis in 2010. I didn’t have a turntable at the time — it was more of a keepsake for me to remember touring the studio and getting to step inside that historic place where so many of my favorite musicians have recorded. I had been wanting to get into collecting, so I figured buying a record would help spur me in that direction, which it did. It’s an original pressing from 1956 in mint condition that appears as though it’s never been played. I’ve actually never played it myself. It’s my most treasured record in my collection.
How large is your vinyl collection?
I just counted them for the first time in a while — I have about 800 LPs and 50 45s.
How do you go about choosing which record will have a place in your collection? Do you usually check new albums online, or do you grab a record just “out of the blue,” or it’s a mixed bag of these two?
When it comes to new releases, if it’s an artist I love, I usually buy the album unheard. If not, I will stream it before I decide whether to buy on vinyl. With used records, I tend to pick up whatever calls my name at the record shop. I have a list of things I’m always looking for, but I don’t usually go shopping for something particular. I love to spend a couple hours at the shop digging, and come home with a nice stack of new wax. I grab records out of the blue all the time. Sometimes it’s something a friend recommended to me, other times it’s something random I choose based on the cover alone. I don’t tend to regret either decision!
Where from do you get your records usually?
I buy almost all my records at local shops here in Houston. I buy new records online occasionally on Amazon or on pre-order directly from an artist/label; although, I typically pick up new releases at one of my favorite shops, Cactus Music. I’m lucky to live in a city with a ton of great record stores to choose from — Cactus, Vinal Edge, Sig’s Lagoon, Black Dog Records, and Sound Exchange to name a few. I also try to go to at least one record store in every city I visit. I’ve traveled a lot around the US and have bought records all over the country. I love checking out different shops that specialize in different genres. You never know what unexpected gem you’ll find in the most unlikely place!
What is the most valuable record in your collection? And do you have sort of a wishlist with records that you want to get one day?
Some of the most valuable records in my collection are releases I bought early on in my collecting days that were limited and/or are out of print. One of my most coveted albums in my collection is Fionn Regan’s debut album, The End of History. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time, and was released as a 2×10”. I had no idea it was worth anything until I added it to Discogs last year and saw it was consistently selling for over $100. I bought it new for $8 in 2011. I also have a few of the rarer Neil Young albums like Ragged Glory and Mirror Ball. I actually found my sealed copy of Ragged Glory earlier this year for $20. It didn’t stay sealed for long…
My wishlist for my records these days has become my saved page on Instagram. The vinyl community on IG is such a wonderful place; I’ve come to know so many awesome collectors from all corners of the world. Their recommendations are one of my main sources for new music to check out.
Tell me about your turntable setup (turntable, preamp, speakers,…).
My current setup is modest, but it works well for my small apartment. I have a Denon DP-300F turntable, Insignia receiver, and Bowers & Wilkins 686 S2 speakers. I started out with an inexpensive Sony turntable played through Bose computer speakers for the first few years, and upgraded to my current setup in 2014. I’m always considering further upgrades, although they really don’t make sense until I have a larger space. I will likely upgrade my cartridge next.
Do you have any advices for people that are about to start or just started collecting vinyls?
My advice would be to start out slow and make sure collecting is something you are truly interested in before you invest a lot of money. Because record collecting is just that, an investment. You don’t need a fancy turntable or speakers to get started and test the waters. Buy a few records, don’t break the bank on your equipment, and work your way up over time. Enjoy the experience — the listening experience that vinyl creates is truly unlike any other. Holding the physical record, reading the liner notes, and hearing the beautiful sound of the needle dropping on the wax — that’s what makes vinyl so special.
Follow Lauren on Instagram.