News and Observations from a Music Nerd

Collecting and Connecting

In late summer of last year (2023), I discovered the world of Twitch vinyl streamers. People just playing vinyl records from their own collections, both for their own enjoyment and that of their viewers. More than that, I saw the streamer and audience having positive, meaningful interactions with each other.

I was hooked. And as I continued to discover more vinyl DJs and streamers, I felt an overwhelming desire to start my own stream.

Music has always been an important part of my life. My father was a high school and elementary school band director for over 30 years and, now retired, is a tour guide at that Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. My mother is a brilliant pianist and singer. I grew up listening to vinyl, cassettes, and CDs from Dad's collection and going to his concerts – and to Mom playing the piano and singing.

Some of my earliest memories are carrying around a cassette tape player/recorder, listening to whatever tapes I could find, and recording my own “shows” onto blank cassettes.

Here's a photo of me as a young lad having fallen asleep listening to a tape. Note the toy turntable and piano in the background.

In 4th grade, I started playing the clarinet in school concert bands. In 7th grade I also picked up the tenor saxophone, playing in school jazz bands and combos. I continued to play all through grade school and 3 years of college. Today, I mostly play tin whistle, Native American flute, and recorder.

Suffice it to say, I have a special love for and connection with music.

I've collected music most of my life and owned physical media of some kind since I was a child. My personal collection started with cassettes and a portable cassette tape player (an Emerson – I might still have it in a box somewhere) that I received for my 10th Birthday in 1991. I think I was 14 or 15 when my parents got me a used Sony Discman portable CD player and a couple CDs for Christmas – one of my favorite Christmas memories. I collected CDs and cassettes – with brief flirtations with vinyl – up until around 2017.

In 2017 I got into the whole “minimalism” thing – the concept of decluttering and getting rid of stuff you don't need or use. I thought it would be a good idea to go through my physical media – CDs, cassettes, and DVDs – and get rid of whatever was available on streaming services at the time.

I decluttered and purged a lot of other unnecessary stuff from my life during that time and consider it an important time of learning and growth for me. I've continued to apply and benefit from many of the things I learned about minimalism. But if there's one regret I have from that time, it's getting rid of the physical media. I later learned from other minimalists like Marie Kondo that it's okay to hold onto things if they “spark joy” in your life. And music has always sparked joy for me.

I plan to write posts that go into more detail depth as to why I am making the shift back to collecting physical media, contrasting the benefits and drawbacks with those of using only streaming services.

But getting back to Twitch – when I first discovered the vinyl streamers, it was a “lightbulb-over-the-head” moment for me. I had already started to collect CDs and cassettes again. But when this streaming idea started crystalizing for me, I decided to start collecting vinyl, as well, and play all three formats on my own stream. I just can't limit myself to one format – there is so much good music out there that isn't available on one format or another.

I felt like doing a Twitch stream would be a wonderful convergence of many passions of mine:

  1. Collecting music
  2. Sharing music with others
  3. Making meaningful connections with others
  4. Spreading joy, hope, and positivity to others

So on Labor Day, September 4th, 2023, I streamed my first show on Twitch. I don't remember if I had any viewers, but probably not. There were many streams in those first weeks where I was lucky to have any viewers, let alone someone chatting with me. More than once I wondered if I was just wasting my time. But there were a few streams in there where some very kind and wonderful people listened to my music and kept me company. They gave me glimpses of how joyful and fulfilling this experience could be. They gave me the morale boost I needed to keep going.

With persistence, and with the support of many wonderful streamers and viewers, on October 10th, 2023, I became a Twitch Affiliate. In the ensuing months, streaming has become one of the most enjoyable, fulfilling things I am doing in my life right now. Not a day goes by that I don't think about the show in one aspect or another – how to improve it, ideas for things I'd like to try, albums I'd like to get, the “regulars” I see every week, etc.

It's difficult to explain why, but whenever someone comments that my stream made their day, that it made them feel better, or that I helped them discover music they really love, it brings me the greatest feeling of joy and fulfillment – to know that I have been able to make a positive impact in someone's life.

The beauty of music is that it is the universal language. It has the power to bring people together. We can all come from different backgrounds, have different values, and view the world differently. But music has the power to unite us. I have seen how music can be the common ground on which to build good friendships, despite whatever differences we may have.

So I'm “collecting and connecting”. Collecting good music to share with others, and facilitating meaningful connections between good people who love good music.

I plan to keep doing this for the foreseeable future, and I have a lot of ideas percolating and plans in the pipeline!


#Twitch #PhysicalMedia