- Nick Passey
"We all have that one friend who's super into something, and any time that you need help with that thing, you go to them. 'Which car should I buy? Which phone should I buy? I probably could figure it out, but this person's obsessed with that.' I'm kind of that guy with music."
This quote comes courtesy of Nick Passey, of local acts Folk Hogan and Nick Passey and the Perpetual Sadness. The musical busybody plays more than 100 shows in a normal year, rubbing shoulders with music folks from all over, and all that passion and experience has him vying to be everyone's helpful vinyl guy.
That's a desire he's channeled into a new project—the aptly titled Record Spread. If you haven't heard of vinyl clubs, that's because according to Passey, there aren't many. And considering the void opened up in the music scene by the pandemic, it's something of an open market for new services, especially a curated and convenient subscription deal like Record Spread.
"It helps people discover music when they don't even have the ability to go out to a bar or show, pay for parking, go listen to three bands—only one of them good. There's a lot of work in music discovery," Passey says.
So far, Record Spread's album-of-the-month format has spotlighted locals like The Hollering Pines and Jacob T. Skeen, who Passey knows personally and who are well-stocked with records to sell to Record Spread while he establishes sales connections with bands elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad. Passey notes that vinyl sales in general are up, and that being stuck at home, people are listening to music more intently than usual—priming them for good music delivered monthly, right to their door. "I truly believe that vinyl's for the superfan," he says, with the authority of a superfan. "My take on it is that it's an active listening experience with a community behind it—going into actual brick and mortar stores and flipping through records. This is about listening to the actual music and experiencing it, and I feel like vinyl is the best way to do that."
In the age of streaming, Passey has a unique reverence for an album's bulk, right down to its ordering; "Artists spend a lot of time making their music and recording it, making sure it fits what their style is, but it also takes a great deal of time to even put the tracks in order," he says. This work, plus the cost of ordering vinyl—which ranges at its cheapest from $1,700 to $2,000 according to Passey's own experiences—creates a high barrier for entry to the vinyl world. That means any artist who makes a vinyl record has got to believe in their music, and anyone who buys it should feel that worth by virtue of the glossy vinyl surface itself.
Part of Passey's devotion to vinyl of course comes from his own career as a musician, where scrimping and saving for his art meant living in modest, roachy digs with "paper thin walls" and "no bathroom door." "I had to walk by boxes of 250 or slightly less records every day to get to the kitchen or the living room," he says. "It's a big commitment in just space to have 200 or 500 records."
That's another reason for starting Record Spread—besides sharing music with fellow fans, he helps fellow artists move their stock. "There's nothing I find more joy in than hitting up some artist I love and saying, 'Hey, I need 50 records,' and they're like 'What?' It's a huge order! It's more merch than you'd sell at a really big show, it's more merch than you'd sell in the whole rest of this crappy year."
And it's a joy he gets to engage in often, even this early on. "This has already been a massive success. I had to go back to this month's band and double the record order. That makes a huge impact to them."
Record Spread has launched at an ideal time, too, as we enter a gift-giving season where shopping locally is on many a mind. One can subscribe in monthly ($30), tri-monthly ($84) or yearly ($324) packages, with the option of adding additional records each month alongside the other included trinkets and goodies. And with Passey's plans to grow the business beyond this unique year, the longer subscriptions are worth considering.
Upcoming records of the month will likely feature local artist Josaleigh Pollett's No Woman Is The Sea, California-based band Casual Friday's Weekend Forever and a new album by Philadelphia-based artist Austin Lucas. Passey's made it easy to gift a subscription, too, by sending the goods directly to giftees, with or without alerting them via email, or even by giving more specific instructions via email or any other messaging platform—Passey checks it all. "Anything I can do to help these independent artists sell more stuff and get the word out there is just one less dollar that's going to some billionaire that doesn't care about art or human rights or us, basically," Passey says.
Visit recordspread.com to read Passey's personal, detail-filled blog posts on featured records, to subscribe or to shop the rest of the swag. With all luck, you just might find your new favorite record.