By Olga Pasyak
On walking the streets of New York or Berlin, you sometimes pass small musical stores, situated on the ground floor of ordinary houses. It seems time stops inside the door, with vinyl records on sale rather than DVDs. True music lovers are frequent visitors — among them an amazingly large number of young people. Are there any similar shops in our country?
On an autumnal day, I went in search of vinyl records but, sadly, no such specialist shops exist in Belarus. You have to turn to the Internet to buy these records or to a collector’s house. Special furniture should be built to house the 12 inch discs: itself a rarity. Eventually, my search yielded results and I met a true collector. “I began showing interest in music in the 1980s — at the age of 12,” explains Dmitry Shulga. “At that time, cassettes were more popular, with vinyl discs already going out of fashion; although the covers were much clearer, so you could see each artiste in more detail. I was most fond of rock, particularly from the 1950s-early 1980s. My collection now exceeds 6,000 vinyl discs, with the oldest being a jazz record from 1949. Look at this shelf: here is a Deep Purple record, while Pink Floyd’s is nearby. I have several by The Beatles. Today, almost everything has been released on CD; vinyl discs account for a tiny share. Moreover, it’s almost impossible to buy vinyl records of music from the 2000s in our country; these are only available abroad. True collectors tend to know each other (within a district) and communicate via the Internet. We make links with those from the UK, Canada and the USA, who send out discs. Of course, to non-enthusiasts, vinyl discs are about as interesting as plates but collectors view them differently.”
There are many reasons for the lack of shops selling vinyl discs in Belarus. Firstly, discs tend to be owned by collectors, who love them and listen to them from time to time; they’re in no hurry to sell them. Secondly, despite their rarity value, most fetch modest prices, so selling them doesn’t hold great attraction (in comparison to wide spread МР3s). Thirdly, people usually have a strong connection to their belongings; collectors associate their discs with particular memories and bright impressions.
“Foreigners are very interested in Russian rock records released by Melody,” notes Dmitry. “Pesnyary is of the most interest among all Soviet performers, since the band toured abroad. Western listeners have little familiarity with other groups and are more interested in records of Western music which were released in Belarus, since they have different covers, packaging and text; they are unique.”
What is of the greatest value to collectors? Classic rock is more complex than dance music, so has more serious fans, while jazz is less popular still — both in our country and abroad. Meanwhile, pop music has no connection with vinyl. “Collecting vinyl discs for a hobby is not a cheap pastime,” explains Dmitry. “Accordingly, those who are fond of doing so are not poor. They see collecting as a hobby rather than a way of making money. As regards young people, rock band members tend to be most interested. Of course, to listen to these records, you need the right equipment, which is difficult to find now. A museum of vinyl discs would naturally have its visitors, though their number would be small, unsurprisingly. If you sent me to look at old washing machines, I’d find it dull; most view old vinyl discs in the same light.”