Mong is an airplane captain of a domestic airline company. He dwells in Guangzhou. Due to his occupation, he frequently flies around the world. But long-distance journey also brings him huge amount of pressures. Ten years ago, Mong finds a way to release, listening to LPs.
Mong told CMBN, “The sound of LP is very warm, loose, rather than digital music which is very hard. So, when listen to LPs, I feel very smoothing and it can help me release the pressure of long-time flight.”
Now, Mong is one of the LP lovers, with a collection of more than 5000 records. After work, he also brings family to travel around the world, and collects LPs and brings beers and whiskey from different countries to home.
July, 2015, Mong and his wife opened a small store called ZhenYinTang with the theme of “LP + Whiskey” in Guangzhou, where LP appreciation gathering is held regularly. It also becomes a place where LP lovers share their LPs.
Mong shared his story of LP:
I begun to collect LPs ten years ago. There is a stereo exhibition in Guangzhou each year. Ten years ago, I went to the exhibition with my wife and fell in love with stereo and brought some. That was just a starting. Later, I began to understand LP. I especially love the LP, for it sounds warm. It might be that I’m a slow-pace person that I feel LP suits my taste. I also had other stuff in my home and was gradually obsessed with LP. Then, I begun my collection.
I now have five to six thousand LPs of all genres, including Jazz, Rock, Classic, Pop. But I prefer Jazz, so I collect more Jazz LPs. Jazz leaves you much room for imagination. It sounds less monotonous and various feelings gone with the music when you listen to it.
Due to my work, I’m under much pressure. My job requires high concentration. Thus, if I cannot find a good way to release, I feel tired all the time. Listening to music reduce my pressure and gives me a feeling of refreshment.
Now, if our family go for travelling, the destination is in line with the place where I will buy LPs. Our most frequent destination is Japan, where the record industry is very developed. I have a book calledJapan LP Map. In more than 400 pages, each introduces two or three record shops.
The record stores in the book even covers small shops in the village. With the book, readers can find almost any LP store in Japan. Besides, we also found a lot record shops that are not written in the book.
I’ve been to record stores in Japan located from north in Hokkaido and south in Okinawa. But the best are in Tokyo. It’s very interesting near the subway station. It is a place where old books, ancient book and records are sold. Many Chinese also go there for ancient book, for those are rear in China but can be purchased there. There are also lots of record stores.
In Tokyo, there is a record shop opened in 1930 with a history of more than 80 years. The shop is very big. It has three floors, each selling different LP records. The first floor sells Japanese folk, Enka, ballads, JPOP and so on. The second floor has western Jazz, rock, pop, blue, etc. Classic music is available on the third floor. Each floor stores several ten thousand records, allowing fans shopping for hours.
My main purpose to go to Japan is to buy records from 50s to 70s. The prices are different, ranging from 50 yuan to 300 yuan for ordinary ones and up to 1000 yuan for the expensive ones.
In Japan Hakodate, there is only one comparatively decent record shop calledPLUS1 A.D, which is comprehensive shop mainly sells Jazz and rock. Its owner is a Jazz lover. I found that he speaks English fluently when paying my bill. Thus, I talked with him for a while. He thought that records business was harder than before and the current profits only could maintain basic life. But it was obviously worse than before. His shop also has a long history of a couple of decades.
Plus, the owner is also very interesting. The reason might be that he opened a record shop. He loves music and even helped this friends produce a LP “FREE JAZZ”. He was the producers and then printed and issued it. He also sent me one before I felt.
In fact, many people operate record stores because of their interests. Without interests, since physical record business does not make high profits, it will be very hard to continue.
Some Japanese physical record stores also have online sales. But digital music does not impact record industry greatly. A number of singers still release physical albums. This might due to the copyright protection in Japan.
Shopping in Hakodate, I found a music bar. There were LPs all over the wall, and customers sit there and listened to music. It was a three-floor building. The second and third floor where the owner lived, and the first floor was a bar. I especially envy this kind of life.
CMBN: Since you’ve been to so many record stores in different countries, which market do you think is mostly impacted by digital music?
Mong: I often fly to Australia. I think Australian market is largely influenced by digital music. In the past, I flew to Australia twice in a month to Sydney. But in recent three to four years, I notice that record stores closed one by one. There are few left.
One record store that I used to visit frequently has been shut down when I went here. The owner
moved the store to suburban area and rented a warehouse. He also found another job for the record store failed to cover his daily expense. Relocated in the suburban area, he only open the store on weekends when he did not go to work.
Australian physical record stores are related with the demographic structure of each city. In Melbourne, there are lots of schools and many of them have design department, so the atmosphere is thick. Melbourne record stores manage to survive.
CMBN: Except for buying records overseas, Guangzhou is also a birthplace of domestic records. What do you think of Guangzhou LP market?
Mong: There was a Tao Street in Guangzhou, which sold stereos. It was an unfinished building, and the outside wall was broken as well as the inside. Each store was very tiny, around ten square meters. On the second floor, there were lots of records stores. Cracked CD that we’ve talked before was originated from Guangzhou and then sold nation widely.
Record stores there packed products into paper box and costumers searched records in the paper box. But I don’t like the atmosphere of domestic record selling. I’ve been there for several times before and would never visit again. But I’m familiar with the owners there. They will phone me if there are new products.
Now the Tao Street was gone. It moved two other places. One is Gaoying Electronic City. The other is located at the most traditional Dashatou in Guangzhou, called Shengxian which is also a place for secondhand stuff. The first floor and the underground sell secondhand cell phones, the second for stereos, and the third for records. The record business is good and many owners sold CD and cracked CD in the past. These years, the sale of CD is not so good and owners who have resources started to sell LP. The LP sale is good.
CMBN: Who usually buy LPs in record stores?
Mong: I thought people at pensionable age usually went to LP stores. However, now, more and more young people start to buy LP, especially graduates. They often go to the vinyl shops. I think it’s wired.
Also, one of my friends who chases high-quality life, now asks me to help him set LP equipment and is crazily buying LPs.
Maybe due to the propaganda in the new media era, young people regard that listening to LP as very fashionable. It’s also a part of showing off to buy a LP and put it on the player. Then they take a photo under the dim light and post it to WeChat. They feel proud about it. It might include such feelings.
CMBN: The sale of LP in many countries has been increasing, while the domestic market does not develop as quickly as other countries, though with a slight growing. What do you think is the reason behind it?
Mong: Over the years, the production of LP is increasing, but it’s still impossible to revive back to the 80s. The upward trend is due to the transformation from CD customers towards LP. Additionally, others download on the Internet.
CMBN: When you get used to LP, do you still listen to digital music?
Mong: I hardly listen to digital music. I don’t have any music app on my phone. But I like to record LP to digital version and put it into the player. I’m a kind of exclude digital download. I bought a recorder, a professional one as that in the studio. After recording, I put the music into my phone and listen to it when I’m on business trips. Obviously, it can’t be compared with the quality of LP in my home. But, it’s better than digital music anyway.
Digital music is textured, and it sounds hard, which makes you feel tired. The LP recording version is looser, more comfortable and you would feel under less pressure.
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