Over a year’s worth of tuition in the form of records lies in Michael West’s home.
For the past 10 years, architecture junior West has collected over 400 vinyl records ranging from Aerosmith to Manchester Orchestra. Now, he catalogs them through an online database. Although the collection currently resides with his family in Plano, Texas, he continues searching for records to fill his collection.
West began collecting around sixth grade when his father gave him a broken turntable. After West fixed it, his father gave him his first five records: two KISS records, two Beatles and Elton John.
From the beginning, West said he’s always viewed his records as a collection.
“(Collecting records) was different, especially in middle school when nobody had money or collecting hobbies,” West said.
Although people used to give him records, he already owned most of them. Now, he purchases records himself locally or online. West organizes them alphabetically by artist and release year and tries to find a complete discography for each artist.
“If I get into a band, I pretty quickly turn around and want everything to do with that band,” West said.
With over 400 records, West said it’s difficult to monitor his collection. This past summer, he started filing his collection into the online database Discogs and discovered his collection was worth around $12,600.
West said when he first told his parents the collection’s worth, they weren’t too excited.
“It hit them that somehow through 10 years of my life, I came into over ten thousand dollars, and I spent it on music,” West said.
Owning records for a long time can become problematic for preservation, but Sarah Cunningham, the Lyndon B. Johnson Library’s audiovisual archivist, said vinyl records aren’t too difficult to preserve. As long as they’re stored properly and not played often, most can stay in good condition up to 60 or 70 years.
“As far as the different audio formats, (records) are the most stable because they’re made of vinyl,” Cunningham said.
Eve Monsees, one of the owners at Antone’s Record Shop, said records have become increasingly popular as more young people want something tangible.
“People starting to buy music for themselves have the choice of streaming, which is easy and convenient,” Monsees said. “But they want to have something in their hands. If you’re going to have something tangible, you might as well have the real deal and get a record.”
This increase in vinyl popularity is one reason West generally doesn’t talk about his collection. He said he didn’t want to seem pretentious.
“I just like the way (records) sound and the social aspect to it,” West said. “It’s really fascinating that that’s how my dad listened to music. This wasn’t an option — it’s what you did.”
As a student who pays for his own food and living expenses, West said he has considered selling his collection. However, he only would if it came down to necessity because he’s had the collection since he found interest in music.
“It’s a cool record of everything I’ve had throughout the years,” West said. “There’s something cool about being able to look at it and go, ‘That’s my music taste.’