There’s nothing wrong with buying vinyl and never listening to it

A photograph of a home office with two LPs wall-mounted above a desk
(Image credit: Smashed Banana via

At least part of the so-called 'vinyl revival' is down to people who buy records purely to have records, often for display on shelves and walls as a way of advertising their love not only for a specific band or album but also perhaps analogue music in general.

Plenty of people in hi-fi turn their noses up at such behaviour, perhaps even snootily branding its proponents as 'hipsters', but I see it slightly differently. Sure, it would be even better if this vinyl was being spun on a turntable from time to time, but buying vinyl and never listening to it is much better than buying no vinyl at all.

The biggest reason, to my mind at least, is that it’s extra revenue for artists. No, I’m not saying that Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran need you to buy their records lest they end up destitute, but it’s harder than ever for smaller acts to make a living in this era of music streaming.

According to United Musicians and Allied Workers, the maximum that an artist could make per Spotify stream in 2023 was a shocking $0.003, and this year the streaming service has introduced a new 1000-stream threshold before it will pay anything at all. According to United Musicians and Allied Workers’ figures, that means two-thirds of the tracks on Spotify will generate no money at all for their artists.

While this is an issue that appears to be getting worse, it’s one that has existed for a long time, and for years I’ve suggested to people that they make up for the money they’re not sending their favourite artists’ way through streaming by going directly to their websites and buying a t-shirt or hoodie or some such.

Buying the band's vinyl is the same sort of thing (and, again, best if you go directly to the their own website) but, I’d argue better because buying the vinyl instead of a t-shirt gives you a physical copy of a favourite album that will last more or less forever, meaning you’ve got a backup if and when that album is removed from the streaming service you use.

Buying the odd LP is obviously not going to save the music industry, and it could be argued that we should just ditch streaming altogether and buy only vinyl (or even CDs) like the good ol' days. There’s merit to that, of course, but even the most ardent anti-streamer has to admit that it’s a great way to discover music that you may never otherwise hear.

I just think that once you’ve discovered that music, it’s a lovely idea to then buy it on vinyl. At that point, you can play it, put it on your wall or use it as a platter for canapes (kidding; please don’t do that) – just love having it in whatever way you choose, knowing that your purchase has hopefully, to a tiny degree, increased the artist’s ability to make more music in the future.


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Tom Parsons

Tom Parsons has been writing about TV, AV and hi-fi products (not to mention plenty of other 'gadgets' and even cars) for over 15 years. He began his career as What Hi-Fi?'s Staff Writer and is now the TV and AV Editor. In between, he worked as Reviews Editor and then Deputy Editor at Stuff, and over the years has had his work featured in publications such as T3, The Telegraph and Louder. He's also appeared on BBC News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4 and Sky Swipe. In his spare time Tom is a runner and gamer.

  • Tinman1952
    "...buying vinyl and never listening to it is much better than buying no vinyl at all"
    This is one of the most ridiculous articles WHF has ever printed.....