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Cassidy Rose Hammond, MSA/Anthropology double-major

“More Personable, More Tangible”: Analog, Authenticity, and Accumulation in a Digital Age

When most media has become infinitely accessible online, what brings the record collector back to the brick-and-mortar record store? I am studying collectors of analog media, their process of collection, and their relationships with physical media (specifically, cassette tapes and vinyl records). Both vinyl and cassettes have seen a recent resurgence in popular culture and the marketplace—vinyl claims superior quality of sound, an affective listening experience, and a culturally rich monetary investment, while cassette tapes are currently experiencing a small revival throughout DIY communities for their low cost, accessibility, and lo-fi sound. For many, records and tapes are nostalgic–for others, they are warmer and more authentic than digital media. Why do collectors collect? How do they collect, and where do they go to do it? What draws them to analog media and technology? And how do online databases and marketplaces like Discogs facilitate collection? My senior project aims to explore these questions through a history of “the analog,” through different vignettes of the record collecting process, from interviews and life histories taken from music collectors, and through my own participant-observation as a collector of physical media.