In 2002 Gary Freiberg founded Vinyl Record Day, a nationally established day to celebrate as the organizations Mission Statement says:“The Preservation of the Cultural Influence, the Recordings and the Cover Art of the Vinyl Record” and to have **August 12th ** as a day of Family, Friends and Music. The choice of the date, August 12, is significant. Reportedly, it is the day Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph in 1877.
So far, Vinyl Record Day has not gained the recognition that, say, Record Store Day has. But it is gaining momentum…
Vinyl Record Day and the promotion of the Vinyl Record Stamp is to encourage the general public to regard “old records” with the same regard as “old books”. An example, the other day I played for my 13 year old son a recording that has the voices of P.T. Barnum, Florence Nightingale, Teddy Roosevelt … some of the recordings date back to the 1890s. This record will never be converted to a digital format and like millions of others is an important historical audio document. Without public awareness of the need to preserve our audio history countless recordings eventually could be lost. Parents who spent a lifetime buying records die, family cleans things up and suddenly the record collection becomes Dads old records. They go to Goodwill or get thrown out; the goal is to raise awareness that as we wouldn’t destroy Dad’s old books, we don’t destroy old vinyl records.
Freiberg: The stamp advisory committee approved the proposal because the Vinyl Record Stamp met the stamp approval criteria: Is it timeless? Is it of a broad cultural appeal? Is it American-based? The history, the legacy of the vinyl record and cover art definitely qualify. The reason for the petition — and it’s a very friendly, respectfully worded petition — is to urge a year of issuance be assigned. Vinyl junkies and the general public need to be involved if the petition is to be successful, this is a true grassroots effort. The purpose for the petition is to demonstrate to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee that there is broad public support for the Vinyl Record Stamp series. My dream is that in August of this year, to celebrate Vinyl Record Day, I can present a minimum of 10,000 signatures. I’ve been at this since 2002; I don’t care how long the road is as long as the journey ends with a year of issuance, that’s what the petition is meant to do, get a year we can look forward to the Vinyl Record Stamp! The ultimate goal is for the stamp series to influence increased awareness in the general public of the importance of preserving our audio history.
The current chairperson of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee is from the film industry. Recent stamp series have commemorated 50’s TV shows and screen stars. The Vinyl Record Stamp is consistent with these media themes, I believe our audio history needs to be commemorated and recognized for its cultural influence as has the visual media. What would movies be without soundtracks?
Freiberg: I’m very optimist that the advisory committee will eventually declare a year of issuance for the Vinyl Record Stamp series, but I think rather than sitting back, keeping our fingers crossed for that year to come soon, being active could help the approval process. We have to be respectful, not in their face, yet I think the industry and the public can do something that makes the Vinyl Record Stamp proposal stand out from the other proposals under consideration.
If it came time to produce a stamp, what would you choose as an image to represent vinyl?
I did give examples in the proposal. The stamps could have designs of 45 spindles. There’s so much that could be done because of the distinct eras that vinyl recordings cover. Fashion and life styles from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s are reflected in the Album Cover Art from those eras. In example I can see a stamp of families the way that families were depicted in the '50s, with teenagers around juke boxes, Mom in a cocktail dress and Dad in a shirt a tie. There’s no lack of potential subject matter.
What do you hope to see accomplished by all of this?
Hopefully the Vinyl Record Stamp series would accomplish a couple of things. Ideally the exposure would influence changing perception in the general public toward “old records”, that these are audio historical documents that need to be preserved and respected for their importance equal to historical literature. I hope too the stamp series would cause people who have their collections stored away to talk about vinyl records, to be reminded of the pleasure they used to get from playing them and as a result assure taking care of them for future generations.
And probably more than "I found some old records. How much are they worth?’ Hopefully, this appeals to people that are more interested in vinyl than its dollar value.
That is an excellent point. Preservation is the essence of what this is all about. The dollar value is a side benefit because if something is of a high dollar value it means from a historical point the recording is rare. There are countless vinyl recordings that are not economically feasible for a record company to release on CD or make available to download because there’s not sufficient demand to make the release profitable. There’s not a government agency in charge of storing our audio history, the Library of Congress is the closest there is to institutional preservation. It’s us, the public, who are the custodians of our audio history and each individual record collection needs to be cared for as it probably contains recordings only available on vinyl.
Vinyl is gradually gaining popularity back
Freiberg: Yes, it’s an interesting cultural phenomena that change seems to be a constant from one generation to another. A younger generation tends to distance themselves from previous generations in fashion, hair styles, most anyway they can. A lot of parents who went from vinyl to compact disc now have kids that grew up only with compact disc. To the late teens, early 20’s vinyl is a new discovery, the vinyl record to this generation is something novel and new, it’s hip. For the people in that age group to be discovering vinyl is a good thing for preservation as it extends appreciation of the format in the future. This renewed appreciation is very encouraging for the vinyl industry; we survived the low point of the “dark ages” of transition when CD’s replaced vinyl as the primary listening medium. From a preservation concern “new blood” is an important ingredient to long term preservation of vinyl recordings.
Why did the recording industry turn its back on vinyl? **
Freiberg: Since the first cylinder Edison records record companies have changed the format as a new way of marketing their product. After the Edison round record came the 78 flat record then the 33, 45s, 8-track, cassettes and mini cassettes, compact discs and now downloads. Re-packaging and re-formatting is a staple of the record companies, these enable the companies to resell music they have sold before. When CD’s came out it was a huge boom for the companies, the public rushed to replace favorite vinyl albums on the new format. History shows once a format is replaced record companies have no use for the older format because that’s not where the money is. And yes, I get pleasure seeing vinyl sales go up as CD sales slip.