As my first post in the community, I want to take you through my journey to vinyl and what it means to me.
It all started with a love for music. A love that really kicked off and developed in my early teenage years...
Spotty and badly dressed but with a lust for life and a lust for music. Music has always been my passion and it’s always been a part of me. It protected me growing up in tough situations, helped me through emotional turmoil and comforted me during those lost loves.
Music influenced my dress sense, lifestyle and friendships as well as taking up my free time dreaming of being a rockstar. This spurred me on to learn the guitar and join a myriad of indie rock bands. This ultimately grew my confidence, helped me develop solid friendships and allowed me to be creative. It didn’t however, lead to that “Gentlemen, you’ve just recorded your first number 1 album” moment. Rats.
After finishing school I developed a taste for travel and discovered the world for a year before heading off to university to study Sociology. My passion for music continued there, writing my dissertation on the Punk subculture and how it transitioned to online messageboards (an early interest in the effect of music on technology and communities - ring any web3 bells?).
Without revealing my age, these were the days when social media was just kicking off. Illegal music downloads were in full swing (I’m looking at you Napster and Limewire - who have both made a web3 comeback recently…) and Web 2.0 was beginning to create a brand new online world with the help of future household names like Facebook and Youtube.
After university, I threw myself into a few different areas of work, including taking up roles at radio stations. Being around the music industry in any way was important to me, even though I was more involved in the advertising space rather than the music itself.
After a few years, I got to a stage where I didn’t feel fulfilled
I felt lost.
Something was missing. I didn’t find passion in my job roles. I was trapped.
This is when I decided to branch out on my own. Deep in thought one day when driving I came up with an idea. I wanted to build a music community. I parked the car at the next safest spot (stay safe on the roads, folks) and started jotting down my ideas.
At this point in my life, I had really gotten into vinyl records. The touch and feel of owning something physical and the magic of sound being produced from a needle against a groove were enthralling to me, as it is to many other music aficionados.
Streaming and Spotify were massive by this point. I was a frequent streamer but I could feel something was missing. I wanted to bring back that physical and emotional connection and I knew there were others out there like me. I, therefore, decided to start a platform to find out the stories behind the music.
Vinyl Chapters was born.
A Taste for Creating
Vinyl Chapters is my labour of love through music, photography, and stories. I began taking photos of people holding a record and listening to the reasons why they chose that record. I literally started chasing people coming out of record stores, begging for a story behind what they’d just bought. I chased up friends and family and those in the music industry.
I then started compiling them and adding them to a website and Instagram page.
The reaction was amazing. People were so open with their stories. Some were heartfelt, some were sad, some happy, and some soul-destroying. What really enthralled me, and always has, is the passion that people bring to life when speaking about music.
I developed Vinyl Chapters further into an online magazine structure with music features, news, interviews and more, and also hired some writers and began to monetize it.
I then realised I’d somehow become an entrepreneur.
I now had a taste for that freedom and exhilaration of creating something from scratch and learning something new.
The Journey Continues
These days I don't spend as much time writing about vinyl as I should, as over the last couple of years I was thrown into the world of web3 - mostly due to my love of vinyl...let me explain.
Technology has also been a big passion of mine. My generation has seen a ridiculously fast leap in groundbreaking tech. I lived through the internet being born, we now have frigging humanoid robots and dogs and VR is getting crazily immersive and realistic (still no hoverboards yet - I’m looking at you ‘Back to the Future’ for promising me these in 2015).
Music has also developed drastically on the tech front, especially in how we consume it. I decided to direct some of my articles for Vinyl Chapters towards music and tech.
It can only take one step to change your life forever and my step into web3 blew my world right open.
When doing research on music and tech, I eventually started reading more and more about these things called NFTs. They began to enthrall me. The utility, the creativity, and the digital ownership.
This, however, then opened a whole can of web3 worms. I was in over my head and had to go back to basics. NFTs are not the best starting point if you want to learn about web3; I kind of had to take a step back, regularly backtrack and figure out new terms like blockchain, nodes, smart contracts and ‘WAGMI’.
Eventually, I built up a half-decent understanding of the tech and started looking for music NFTs. I found out there was going to be a first-of-its-kind digital-physical NFT drop with indie rockers The Kings of Leon. They would be giving away a special edition copy of their new record on vinyl as part of an NFT purchase, as well as other special benefits like early VIP gig access.
This was right up my street and a perfect article to write for Vinyl Chapters. I wrote about it in an explanatory and opinionated style where I took my audience through exactly how I purchased my first NFT, what some of the web3 terms were and how the purchase went from a personal point of view.
My NFT article about the Kings of Leon NFT started to blow up. Why? The BBC website had quoted me in one of their own articles on web3.
I then suddenly started getting calls and messages from people wanting ME to explain about NFTs. I somehow found myself on BBC radio 4 chatting about web3 and a segment on a local TV station. What the hell was happening?
This is when things began to get interesting.
With my purchase of the vinyl NFT, I realised there was still a lot to improve in the technology and the service provided when it came to physical and digital NFTs. Timelines, delivery costs, and logistics solutions all needed to be improved. My experience had been laboured and the community around the project were unhappy with late deliveries and unexpected costs. In all honesty, it was to be expected - this was a first-of-its-kind trial of the tech.
This gave me all the more reason to want to be on the front line and to create something that would improve this part of web3.
I'm now CEO of web3 creative startup RealNifty which helps accomplished artists and creatives showcase and sell their work. It's been a whirlwind journey and one I wouldn't change for the world. My journey through vinyl and music led me to create something to improve things for artists and creatives where I saw problems.
Through this community I want to help rekindle my love of writing about vinyl, figure out more ways to combine web3 and vinyl, and build a community of fellow enthusiasts.
Here's to a strong vinyl future and the journey!