VNYL Sliding
June 15, 2015 8:17 AM   Subscribe

All of these stories referred to VNYL in some capacity as “Netflix for vinyl.” Consequence Of Sound did a video interview with VNYL’s founder, Nick Alt, who referred to his service as being like “old-school Netflix.” The idea was that VNYL’s staff would hand-curate a selection of three records for each subscriber (for a fee of $24 per month), and mail out those records to those subscribers, who would have no idea what musical selections they might receive. Then, subscribers would be allowed to keep those records as long as they wanted and return them at any time, at which point, VNYL’s staff would send out a new batch of hand-curated records to that subscriber (...) None of these stories, however, mentioned an element of U.S. copyright law called the first-sale doctrine — specifically section §109(b), popularly known as the Record Rental Amendment Of 1984, which makes it illegal to rent records.
--The comic failings of a Kickstarter project that promised a “Netflix for vinyl.”
posted by almostmanda (104 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
If fuckedcompany.com still existed, this would be on it.
posted by Melismata at 8:22 AM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm a fairly big vinyl nerd and this seems like a pretty terrible idea, even if it had worked as advertised. I can only speak for myself but a big part of the appeal of vinyl is going out and looking for it and deciding for myself what I want to add to my collection. If I want stuff curated for me I use online services like Spotify and Songza.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:23 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Once again, you have a lot of pain and heartache that could have been resolved with an initial visit to a lawyer.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:25 AM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


So not so much "Netflix for Vinyl" as "Qwikster for Vinyl"?
posted by DiscountDeity at 8:28 AM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I saw an ad for this on MetaFilter not too long ago, I think.
posted by ODiV at 8:28 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love how even though it's intended to report on the collapse of this doomed business the article itself can't quite escape its own tech sector BS bubble: "VNYL’s fatal mistake, of course, was in doing a lax job of hand-curation. Had no one wanted to return the records they’d been sent, there would have been no problem."

What a ridiculous sentence! As explicitly noted elsewhere in the same article VNYLs fatal mistake was trying to create a business without realizing their cool idea was illegal until after they were in over their heads. Being better curators wouldn't have avoided the problem, because people weren't signing up to join a Columbia Record Club reboot, they wanted the Netflix model as advertised.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:34 AM on June 15, 2015 [25 favorites]


The return to a Columbia House model would be worth it just for the nostalgia factor of gluing a penny to a postcard.
posted by dr_dank at 8:37 AM on June 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


"VNYL’s fatal mistake, of course, was in doing a lax job of hand-curation. Had no one wanted to return the records they’d been sent, there would have been no problem."

What a ridiculous sentence! As explicitly noted elsewhere in the same article VNYLs fatal mistake was trying to create a business without realizing their cool idea was illegal until after they were in over their heads.


yeah, but in fairness, immediately right after that, you get the best thing I've read all morning.

VNYL’s promise was to select records for the individual subscriber based on “#vibe” — with #vibe defined by the subscriber’s existing tastes and interests — but numerous commenters didn’t feel their own #vibe had been reflected in the records mailed to them by VNYL. Here are some samples*:

Wrote Bill LaMonaca on April 22:

I am highly dissatisfied with what I was sent. All three were complete losers, and there was no real variety. And I’m not sure how you categorize the records — I would not call Steppenwolf a “Lazy Saturday” listen, nor would I classify Uriah Heep as “Dinner Music.”

posted by philip-random at 8:39 AM on June 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


Wretch729: "What a ridiculous sentence! As explicitly noted elsewhere in the same article VNYLs fatal mistake was trying to create a business without realizing their cool idea was illegal until after they were in over their heads. Being better curators wouldn't have avoided the problem, because people weren't signing up to join a Columbia Record Club reboot, they wanted the Netflix model as advertised.
"

Part of it was the framing of the business model according to the article -- there's a dozen or so "curated box clubs" that will happily sell me a box of clothing or yogurts or tools and have super-liberal "return what you don't like" return policies. I wonder if they would have don better if VNYL had positioned itself as a curated vinyl based whimsy seller with similar return policies. The other portion is like the card cheat says, half of the fun is diving through crates. If you're deep in the culture, I can see where having a service delivering a rarity to your doorstep might not have the same emotional pull as "really finding it".
posted by boo_radley at 8:45 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love how even though it's intended to report on the collapse of this doomed business the article itself can't quite escape its own tech sector BS bubble: "VNYL’s fatal mistake, of course, was in doing a lax job of hand-curation. Had no one wanted to return the records they’d been sent, there would have been no problem."

I read that as really dry sarcasm, myself.
posted by Think_Long at 8:47 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


> yeah, but in fairness, immediately right after that, you get the best thing I've read all morning.

Yeah, that and the anecdote about the guy who was justifiably pissed that he was sent ENGLAND DAN AND JOHN FORD COLEY LPs after they'd ostensibly checked out his (lol) #vibe.

Most of the junk listed in the article sounds like stuff they walked across the street to a Goodwill to find. For a reasonable price, I will send all of you all the hand-curated James Last, Billy Vaughn or Mrs. Mills records you want!
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:49 AM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


Netflix for vinyl doesn't really work when the act of playing the item destroys it just a little bit more.

Unless of course you mandated optical turntables but how would you enforce it?
posted by Talez at 8:49 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's the other thing! Speaking from experience, people can't even rent/borrow/sign out CDs or DVDs without making them look like they've been run over by a car, much less vinyl records.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:51 AM on June 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


I got this mixed up with "Netflix for Stucco".
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:52 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


If I want stuff curated for me I use online services like Spotify and Songza.

This. We're about a decade plus into an era where "How can we sample music without sending physical stuff back and forth?" is a pretty remedial-level dilemma. No matter how much a person love or even fetishize vinyl, surely they can still agree that sampling things digitally makes a hell of a lot more sense.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
posted by flabdablet at 8:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [23 favorites]


This was indeed advertised via The Deck (and here on MeFi); I clicked through and checked it out and was vaguely intrigued until I realized that (a) shipping to Canada would be brutal, and (b) I can go to any number of thrift shops and yard sales within a 3 km radius and pick up oddities for $0.99 by myself, rather than paying somebody in skinny jeans to do it for me and charge me exponentially more for the privilege.

It's pretty obvious, even from their best-case scenarios, that you wouldn't sign up as a Father John Misty and Spirtualized fan and expect to get the latest Bon Iver on 180 gram vinyl the next month. You're paying (a lot) for the opportunity to discover the very best that the local Salvation Army has gathering dust under the broken china and foot spas.

It's an intriguing idea, but with the physical cost of shipping, I couldn't ever see how this was a winning concept. You'd be far better off starting something on Meetup to exchange random records with other local vinyl fans.

Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea...
posted by Shepherd at 8:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


Stories like this make me feel I'm a moron for not getting my ass out there and stealing shit from people via Kickstarter. Goddammit, I'm wasting my life.
posted by aramaic at 8:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [23 favorites]


The shipping and playing alone would have destroyed their stock so quickly.
posted by xingcat at 8:53 AM on June 15, 2015


I'm not sure anyone wants music curated by hand. Were they picking the records based on touch? Did the "curators" ever actually listen to the music?
posted by Ideefixe at 8:54 AM on June 15, 2015


For a brief, insane moment I imagined what a "Netflix for Vinyl Siding" would be.

And it was glorious.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 9:01 AM on June 15, 2015 [36 favorites]


Hmm. Great case study. I will have to have my brother in law the attorney look over my "Netflix for Kittens" startup and see what he thinks.
posted by Naberius at 9:02 AM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure anyone wants music curated by hand.

I think what lots of people want is music curated by a person with good taste. Most algorithmic recommendations tend toward sameness and mediocrity, whereas personal recommendations often contain out-of-left-field choices. Plus, the experience of listening to and recommending music is intensely subjective and is enriched by sharing that subjectivity with others. A subscription service based around that would be pretty cool, but VNYL was most certainly not that.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:11 AM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


But Naberius how do you get the kittens back inside the jar when you want to send them back?
posted by Wretch729 at 9:11 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Every time they quoted the founder saying the word "curate" I felt myself growing more pleased with his misfortunes.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:13 AM on June 15, 2015 [23 favorites]


I will not buy this record, it is scratched.

You have just given me an incredible new idea. I call it TBCCNST. It's like Netflix for . . . what?
posted by The Bellman at 9:15 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


But Naberius how do you get the kittens back inside the jar when you want to send them back?

We do shipping and returns using cardboard boxes. We have not found getting cats - even those that appear too big for the standard size box - into them to be a problem. In fact most of our complaints in the beta trials have involved kittens accidentally returned before the customer intended to do so.
posted by Naberius at 9:22 AM on June 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


Checking...yep. "Hand-curate(d)" is on my hipster card, in a row with "artisan(al)," "locally-sourced," "gluten free," and "bespoke."

I had "BINGO" before it went mainstream.
posted by MrGuilt at 9:23 AM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


The nature of vinyl is going to self-exclude a number of records - is anybody going to get a Pet Sounds in the mail? Sgt. Pepper? Early Nirvana? An early Eagle's gatefold album, complete with marijuana crumbs inside of it?

Great idea; but 'let us pick a used car for you to return' just came to mind.
posted by buzzman at 9:26 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Huh. I remember software rental places back in the early to mid-eighties. I guess this is why they went away. I assume there must be a similar law in Canada.
posted by GuyZero at 9:34 AM on June 15, 2015


I didn't look into VNYL at all, I assumed the service was partnering with indie distributors to get rid of new stock that wasn't selling. Kind of like that nerd box thing that they advertise on podcasts.

I didn't know they were sending used LPs. $24 for 3 used LPs is a pretty awful deal for random mass produced records from the 70s. I bought a used album this weekend for $15 but the album was laser focused to my tastes and interests (1992 weirdo noise rock from my hometown). The examples from the article are really bargain bin, goodwill shit. You could find any of those albums if you spent an hour in any medium sized city's thift stores. What a bizarre idea.

It would have been really easy to curate a selection for the guy from the article who liked spiritualized and LCD soundsystem, even with bargain basement stuff. Give him some Tangerine Dream, some b-grade synth-pop from the 80s, even that lionel ritchie or hall and oates works. They weren't even trying to find $1 bin receords that fit the dudes #vibe. You could order a lot of records on ebay for 24/mo if you don't care what you are receiving.
posted by kittensofthenight at 9:35 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


But Naberius how do you get the kittens back inside the jar when you want to send them back?

Bonsai Kitten.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:47 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I own a record store in Toronto and read VNYL's pitch when they launched immediately thought it would fail because they'd no doubt resort to common titles and no one would be satisfied. Steppenwolf? You gotta be kidding.

That said, last year I started my own subscription service where I hand-picked records for people. One record a month for either a six- or twelve-month program. I didn't do any mailing -- customers had to pick up their records in the store. I was able to successfully choose records because these people were already my customers and I was familiar with their tastes as many of them had been shopping with me for years. I stopped the program when I got to 26 subscribers because it just became too much of a pain in the ass to every month find 26 great records that were obscure enough that I knew no one would have them but great enough that they'd love it and want to keep it. The program simply couldn't scale.

Everyone who subscribed asked me to keep the program going but I nixed it, which is to say that people are definitely looking for ways to discover new music and, presumably, the digital ways of doing that aren't cutting it.

It was very gratifying, though, to be able to turn people on to great music that they'd never heard of.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:49 AM on June 15, 2015 [20 favorites]


Stories like this make me feel I'm a moron for not getting my ass out there and stealing shit from people via Kickstarter. Goddammit, I'm wasting my life.

I guess I'm marginally less cynical, but I think this was a sincere, if slightly dim and ill-thought-out, endeavour. I can easily see a chain of events where somebody who fancies themselves an entrepreneur is flipping through $1.00 records and thinks "there's actually some pretty good stuff in here, if you could get it in front of the right people". I've thought that myself going through bargoooon vinyl. An all-accordion album of sea shanties? An Ella Fitzgerald compilation? An audio LP of an old episode of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon "Fangface"? Burl Ives' "Best of Burl for Boys and Girls"? If I didn't have a space problem and severe overindexing in the "wacky but never listened to" category of my record collection, I'd be a prime target for this stuff. Could somebody super into Daft Punk somehow wrap their head around a shipment of Quincy Jones, Herbie Mann and James Last? Maybe.

Then there's a pretty natural ramping up to a vowel-free Web 2.0 business name, the hip happening "subscription" business model that's all the rage, and a giddy inability to be realistic about outcomes and to manage consumer expectations.

At $24/month, less labour and time to source the stuff and sift through it (poorly, admittedly), package it, label it, maintain a database and physically print and ship things, deal with questions and actually manage a business, it doesn't feel like somebody trying to scam as much as somebody just having absolutely no idea what they're doing trying to make up a business whole cloth.

And then, instead of admitting fault and cutting bait when they realize that they're not living up to people's expectations, being basically deflective dicks about it.

It would have been really easy to curate a selection for the guy from the article who liked spiritualized and LCD soundsystem, even with bargain basement stuff. Give him some Tangerine Dream, some b-grade synth-pop from the 80s...

My suspicion is that more than anything they (and the author of the above comment) are victims of confirmation bias -- when I flip through 10 crates of crap, I remember the 20 fun or decent records and kind of forget the other 300. I can see how if you had (and I'm speculating wildly now) a trust fund and some time on your hands to indulge your "I'm a biznizzman!" fantasies, you might not do the big work and think you had a great idea on your hands. I have seen Tangerine Dream in the $1 bin. But you're going to run out of the Tangerine Dream and offbeat synthpop a lot faster than bad Eagles and Chicoago records, and there are going to be a lot more people into LCD Soundsystem than self-selecting for arena rock two decades past it's sell-by date.

If you tried a "curated lightly used book club" as a sustainable business model, you'd run into this problem too... you think there's a lot of Brautigan and Faulkner and weird men's adventure novels in the pile, but after Week Two you realize that it's actually almost all Danielle Steele and John Grisham and the cold hand of panic starts clamping down on your gut.
posted by Shepherd at 9:50 AM on June 15, 2015 [23 favorites]


> I remember software rental places back in the early to mid-eighties.

My family rented Atari 2600 games from a place in Sarnia, Ontario around the same time. I always assumed it went out of business at the same time and for the same reasons Atari did.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:51 AM on June 15, 2015


A few weeks ago I remember reading an article (probably this one) where it became clear the business model now was charge people for dusty thrift shop records. $5 tops worth of records for $24 a month is a terrible deal. If anyone wants to pay me that money (plus S/H), I'll gladly buy the whole vinyl rack from the thrift/cash converters stores around here, so you can have the "original, 70s and 80s Portuguese Vinyl experience". Hope you like disco and pop compilations! And Júlio Iglésias! Pan Pipe/flute cover records!

What would make more sense would be a Vinyl club, done in conjunction with a few labels and artists. Every month, subscribers get two new (or new-ish) releases and a one classic (actually) hand-picked by one guest artist - after getting a feel by talking directly to the costumers, they'd make a list of stuff the costumer would like based on their experience, and someone on staff would try to source them as budget would allow.
Or something like the random CDs thing Polyvinyl used to do - a few years ago, I spent like €25 (because of shipping) on a 10 for $10 deal. It had a lot of stuff I wouldn't listen to otherwise, and decent-to-good CDs are easier to source than decent-to-good vinyl, even if they're passé for the cool crowd and wouldn't get much buzz because VINYL.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


lmfsilva: "What would make more sense would be a Vinyl club, done in conjunction with a few labels and artists. "

Ninjatune and 4AD. I will buy the turntable.
posted by boo_radley at 9:54 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Netflix works because you can shove a DVD into a shipping envelope and drop it off in a mailbox under pretty much any conditions -- while hungover on the way to work, say. I have no idea how a friggin vinyl record return plays out in any way other than a trip to the goddamn post office, unless they accept returns in the form of a bag of shards.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:58 AM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


Apparently they are giving refunds to donors in Beenz.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:02 AM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Checking...yep. "Hand-curate(d)" is on my hipster card, in a row with "artisan(al)," "locally-sourced," "gluten free," and "bespoke."

"Hand/Human Curated" has jumped to the techster bingo card now. It was all over the Apple Music announcements last week.

Why no Apple, as a matter of fact I am not interested in what Drake (or rather some A&R intern at his label) has hand curated for my listening pleasure. That sounds terrible.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:02 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Perhaps we're living in the universe of Bill the Galacic Hero and this is part of the "get rid of trash by mailing it elsewhere" program?
posted by maxwelton at 10:07 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure anyone wants music curated by hand


The only person I'd want curating my vinyl by hand is Jeff Healey, and he's dead.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:12 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


boo_radley: And I forgot to mention that: having labels backing up the project would mean people would already know what could be literally in store. While the majors would have a larger hit-and-miss ratio, smaller ones are usually very homogeneous in their roster and tied together by an overall aesthetic. Very unlikely I'd be disappointed with a Warp / Italians Do It Better / Sonic Cathedral / Invada mix.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:12 AM on June 15, 2015


Please back my new venture curedcurecurator, where our team of hand-curators will curate artisinal cured meats along with an album by The Cure to accompany them for the ultimate curation experience. Simply return any albums you don't like along with any uneaten cured meats in the polyethylene fiber envelope provided and we'll pass them along to another subscriber. Our selection at launch will be Bündnerfleisch and Wild Mood Swings, don't miss out!
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:12 AM on June 15, 2015 [24 favorites]


What would make more sense would be a Vinyl club, done in conjunction with a few labels and artists.

Yeah working with labels would probably be a good idea.
Kill Rock Stars used to always send a couple CDs that were taking up space along with whatever you ordered, it was fun.

Having labels grouped loosely by genre would be awesome, but at that point you're just talking about a record club. BMG baby.
posted by kittensofthenight at 10:22 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best review of the "service" I've seen is this video.

The guy paid $25 and selected #danceparty as his "vibe." He got Peter, Paul, and Mary, Harry Mancini's soundtrack to The Great Race, and Glen Miller Concert. Has this curator ever actually seen people dance?
posted by zachlipton at 10:31 AM on June 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


The description of the Record Rental Amendment is confused. The Record Rental Amendment is an exception to the first-sale doctrine, which usually means you can do whatever you want with the physical manifestation of a copyrighted work that you've bought from the copyright holder, like sell or lend it to someone else.
posted by grouse at 10:35 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


The shipping and playing alone would have destroyed their stock so quickly.
I hadn't even finished reading the phrase "Netflix for Vinyl" before dismissing the concept for those two reasons. People generally take lousy care of borrowed/rented media, and vinyl is nowhere near as forgiving of being manhandled as CDs or DVDs. I can't for the life of me understand how this idea ever reached Kickstarter stage and then got successfully funded. I guess kids these days never enjoyed the experience of borrowing a battered, scratched, food-stained LP from their public library.
posted by usonian at 10:40 AM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


The only person I'd want curating my vinyl by hand is Jeff Healey, and he's dead.

I've heard that Healey could use his fingertips to read the matrix number off the runout of a 78. That's definitely curating shellac by hand.
posted by in278s at 10:42 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have no idea how a friggin vinyl record return plays out in any way other than a trip to the goddamn post office, unless they accept returns in the form of a bag of shards.

I sell blockprints of my ufos/Lovecraft carvings pressed onto wood on Etsy. Because most of my stuff is 12"x12" or 12"x9", I end up using record mailers to send out my stuff and that always ALWAYS means a long, slightly confusing trip to the post office. You can't just use the self-serve kiosk as it tends to up the cost of shipping and depending on the postal employee, you may have to barter as to the size of the package as their opinions often diverge between higher rates for 12" or 12" and above. Really, they could have not worried about the rental aspect of their business model by just relying on the fact that most people would rather throw 20 bucks down a hole than spend part of their Saturday mornings waiting in line.

"Hand/Human Curated" has jumped to the techster bingo card now.

Despite only having made a handful of sales, I've been contacted by someone who wants to set up a "curated gift" business. They want me to make and set aside a selection of my pressings in the event that someone comes to them and is like "I need to buy a birthday present for my weird uncle. He lives in a tree house and wears a tinfoil hat." No thanks - if I make a thing for you, play me. If that means Aunt Marge will be getting takes on Albrecht Dürer's Dance of Death where grey aliens are dragging away children for Christmas, so be it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:46 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


takes on Albrecht Dürer's Dance of Death where grey aliens are dragging away children for Christmas, so be it.

Damn, there's another great startup. Pre-abducted, hand curated humans. Let's demolish alien abductions!
posted by Naberius at 11:01 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


-You listed your #vibe as: All Night Party.
We sent you: Up, Up and Away, by The Fifth Dimension!

-You listed your #vibe as: Getting Wasted at the Quarry.
We sent you: Up, Up and Away, by The Fifth Dimension!

-You listed your #vibe as: Flying around in an pretty air balloon.
We sent you: Abandoned Luncheonette, by Hall & Oates!
posted by Iridic at 11:14 AM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


Wow, this is bizarre. I saw ads on The Deck here too and naturally assumed it was for new vinyl that wasn't selling - there's plenty of that around, and you could easily have an economy of scale by having seven or eight diverse albums each month which you just send to everyone. Not for me, but it didn't seem stupid - get some new stuff you've never heard of. Vinyl resurgence et al. You could preview all the ones for that month online! It makes sense.

But Neil Diamond? England Dan? A rental model? I sell rare records on the side, and I know unless you're very careful about packaging the attrition rate is atrocious.
posted by solarion at 11:17 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


ARG, I was going to buy a gift membership for a good friend from VNYL. I want to keep him as a friend so I won't.
posted by pibeandres at 11:27 AM on June 15, 2015


Hey, is your #vibe a happy birthday? If so, enjoy this copy of Guitar Man by Bread!
posted by chimpsonfilm at 11:32 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


And yes I know that would then be a record club. I think there is room for a record club.
posted by solarion at 11:41 AM on June 15, 2015


I'd like to see a service like this for rare and expensive art books instead.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:42 AM on June 15, 2015


Netflix for carnival glass
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:44 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Netflix for live animals
posted by aubilenon at 11:45 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


They may have dodged violating federal law, but there seems to be a clear case for fraud here.

VNYL clearly promised a rental service in the manner of Netflix with their Kickstarter, as they themselves said. They later decided to change to a sales model without telling their customers. It seems very hard to argue, based on their behavior, that there wasn't an intent to deceive.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:47 AM on June 15, 2015


Netflix for Chick Tracts.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:47 AM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Netflix for not-alive animals.
posted by boo_radley at 12:07 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Netflix for dick pix
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:11 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Netflix for Netflix knock offs.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:12 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


VNYL clearly promised a rental service in the manner of Netflix with their Kickstarter, as they themselves said. They later decided to change to a sales model without telling their customers. It seems very hard to argue, based on their behavior, that there wasn't an intent to deceive.

Well, maybe, but if you change your business model from "We send you X records for $Y and you send back the ones you don't like!" to "We send you X records for $Y and you keep 'em, or throw them away, or give them to someone, or play Frisbee with them, or feed them to a new strain of vinyl-eating microganism you've discovered, or whatever you want, just don't send them back to us!" it's hard to see how anyone is actually harmed.

To have a "clear case for fraud" you have to have some cognizable injury (usually economic harm) to the "defrauded" party -- which means something beyond just having to listen to Hall & Oates, as surprising as that may seem.
posted by The Bellman at 12:12 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Netflix for Netflix-like startups. Get a new "Netflix for X" each week!
posted by solarion at 12:12 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Netflix for Uber-alike pitches
posted by boo_radley at 12:15 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Netflix for Netflix-like startups. Get a new "Netflix for X" each week!

Okay nevermind, I was too late. Where can I mail back my comment?
posted by solarion at 12:15 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Netflix for Chick Tracts.

AKA a laundromat.
posted by GuyZero at 12:27 PM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


To have a "clear case for fraud" you have to have some cognizable injury (usually economic harm) to the "defrauded" party

Yes, I know (fellow NY-licensed attorney here). The harm seems obvious: the $Y the customers were charged. They paid that money on the premise that they were subscribing to a rental service. They may not have paid that money had they known what the service actually was. They were fraudulently induced to pay that money. They are now out the $Y they paid. It's not that they got bad records, it's that they got products they were tricked into buying.

The company clearly knew this to be the case, as they changed the nature of their service without informing their customers, and even took measures to hide the change on their website.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:30 PM on June 15, 2015


Right, but without letting this shade into a legal discussion (because IANanyone'sL here and this certainly isn't legal advice) they paid the dollars for a service that would rent them records, and the only harm is that they got to keep them for the same price. How is that a harm? "You tricked me into accepting more than I paid for!" is rarely a good fraud claim.
posted by The Bellman at 12:44 PM on June 15, 2015


Yeah, but it seems like the pitch was "We'll rent you cool records that you'll probably like, based on your preferences" and the reality was "Here are some old dollar bin records you can keep or whatever."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:52 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah like if Blue Apron just sent you un-frozen burritos and corn chips.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:27 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


prize bull octorok: "Please back my new venture curedcurecurator, where our team of hand-curators will curate artisinal cured meats along with an album by The Cure to accompany them for the ultimate curation experience. Simply return any albums you don't like along with any uneaten cured meats in the polyethylene fiber envelope provided and we'll pass them along to another subscriber. Our selection at launch will be Bündnerfleisch and Wild Mood Swings, don't miss out!"

munch munch munch

What?
posted by Samizdata at 1:49 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


if Blue Apron just sent you un-frozen burritos and corn chips.

STFU and take my money
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:59 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Netfleeks for Dorite
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:00 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be surprised if while making the pitch they under-estimated the going value for used vinyl to build their archives, or the place they were thinking about obtaining the material either closed or sold the good stuff, and then decided to go with the B-plan: ship crap from the bargain bin.

After all, it is a Kickstarter product. You can't have a failed KS project without massively under-estimating the financials or the practical aspects of the said project. It's the law.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:09 PM on June 15, 2015


Lentrohamsanin: "Netflix for dick pix"

Netflix for my dick pics. I need a date...
posted by Samizdata at 2:15 PM on June 15, 2015


if u liked samizdata's ding-dong, you may also like picture of cats wearing tiny hats and neckties.
posted by boo_radley at 2:28 PM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Some nights its just Dickflix and 'Net-Pics, unfortunately.
posted by kittensofthenight at 2:43 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I saw an ad for this on MetaFilter not too long ago, I think.

I'm not sure, but I think that might've been Vinyl Me Please. I could totally be wrong.
posted by box at 2:52 PM on June 15, 2015


(Yeah, I think I'm wrong.)
posted by box at 3:16 PM on June 15, 2015


boo_radley: "if u liked samizdata's ding-dong, you may also like picture of cats wearing tiny hats and neckties."

Them's fightin' words. Commodores albums at 20 paces.
posted by Samizdata at 3:21 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I didn't understand the law. It reads like lending records is also not OK, but don't I remember libraries having records in their collections? Am I making this up, or reading the law wrong? Please advise.
posted by not that girl at 3:45 PM on June 15, 2015


Wrong business model: Uber for Vinyl*, yeah, that's the ticket.
*ignore legalities, inadequate screening, underpay everybody
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:02 PM on June 15, 2015


Libraries aren't run for "direct or indirect commercial advantage,"
posted by KateViolet at 4:03 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, libraries have an exception to the exception.
posted by grouse at 4:21 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Netflix works because you can shove a DVD into a shipping envelope and drop it off in a mailbox under pretty much any conditions -- while hungover on the way to work, say. I have no idea how a friggin vinyl record return plays out in any way other than a trip to the goddamn post office, unless they accept returns in the form of a bag of shards."

Netflix also worked because the anti-library dickbags who wrote America's copyright laws weren't forward thinking enough to imagine anything but sound recordings on lendable discs. If they'd acted as intended, one of the best new content providers around wouldn't have gotten off the ground.
posted by klangklangston at 4:56 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


At one point there was a Netflix app for Facebook. It got pulled because there's a super-specific law preventing video rental companies from sharing information about individual's rental history - even with the renter's permission - that was passed after Robert Bork's rental history was published during his supreme court nomination.

There are some crazy specific laws out there.
posted by GuyZero at 5:00 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I first launched our Kickstarter, I thought VNYL would be my weekend side project

And this is the problem right here. Who actually thinks they can run this sort of service on the weekends?
posted by BungaDunga at 5:56 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


So how does Gamefly manage to avoid running afoul of this? Or, back in the day, home video rental stores renting video game carts or ROMs? Pretty sure that went on after the amendment of §109(b) in 1990 to cover software.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:00 PM on June 15, 2015


I missed the carve-out for console games (as opposed to PC games).

From "Exhausted? Video Game Companies and the Battle Against Allowing the Resale of Software Licenses", Alice J. Won, 33 J. Nat’l Ass’n Admin. L. Judiciary Iss. 1 (2013)

Under the same act, as an exception to section 109(b)(1)(A), section 109(b)(1)(B) states that computer programs that are “embodied in or used in conjunction with a limited purpose computer that is designed for playing video games” may be rented, leased, or lent by the owner of the copy for commercial purposes.Therefore, copyright owners have no rights to control the owners of a particular copy from renting, leasing, or lending their copies. This video game exception was based off the realities of the extensive video game rental market and the short entertainment value of games.

However, this is a limited exception: it only applies to video games that are used with limited purpose computers, or consoles, designed for the primary purpose of playing home video games and where “[t]hese games cannot be copied on such computers or by using any other equipment ordinarily available in this country." This exception was originally created to target game cartridges played on video game consoles like Nintendo’s Super Nintendo system, which are limited-purpose computers designed for playing such games.

More recently, section 109(b)(1)(B)(ii) allows video games on compact disc form for Xbox and PlayStation 3 to be available for rent or resale as these discs are only compatible with limited-purpose computers, such as Xbox and PlayStation game consoles which have no reproducing capacity.

posted by snuffleupagus at 6:08 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


You have just given me an incredible new idea. I call it TBCCNST. It's like Netflix for . . . what?

Eels. Delivered by hovercraft.

ARG, I was going to buy a gift membership for a good friend from VNYL. I want to keep him as a friend so I won't.

I think you've just accidentally discovered VNYL's true business model: hatebuying of music for enemies or as ironic (oh god shoot me) gifts.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:09 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Stereogum kinda buried the lead: the junk bin "curators" have also opened a brick and mortar record store on Abbot Kinney in Venice, which might have the highest retail rents in L.A. This suggests they're not running a con -- the $36,000 from the Kickstarter would be exhausted in a month -- but are rich people playing at running a business. It makes more sense this way, doesn't it?
posted by Scram at 7:18 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Stories like this make me feel I'm a moron for not getting my ass out there and stealing shit from people via Kickstarter. Goddammit, I'm wasting my life.

Yea, seriously. You just form an LLC, pay someone to make you a cool intro video, collect all the money, then marginally deliver in a way that only costs you a couple thousand(like everyone gets shirts, but not the final product)

Then you just zoidberg away, and even if the LLC is sued, you would just have to stack it right to walk away.

Because i mean, it seems like quite a few of these kickstarters have ended with the creators either spending entirely or keeping a significant portion of the money. And if that's all the effort it takes me to get like, a cool "office" i can throw parties in and a maxed out mac pro then...

Jesus, yea, what the fuck am i doing with my life?
posted by emptythought at 7:45 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Stereogum kinda buried the lead: the junk bin "curators" have also opened a brick and mortar record store on Abbot Kinney in Venice, which might have the highest retail rents in L.A. This suggests they're not running a con -- the $36,000 from the Kickstarter would be exhausted in a month -- but are rich people playing at running a business. It makes more sense this way, doesn't it?

Doubling up, but this is like the platonic Trust Fund Vanity Business. It's just cool enough to be marginally cool, just techbro enough to be "oh, i run a startup", and lets them basically play at being cool business owners for street cred and flirting.

See also: basically every high end clothing/"outfitters" shop, a lot of art galleries, brand new "dive" bars, etc.

Seattle is slowly filling in at the corners with places like this. Some guy who is just somehow affording to indefinitely run a business that has high operating costs but doesn't really make any money.
posted by emptythought at 7:47 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Stories like this make me feel I'm a moron for not getting my ass out there and stealing shit from people via Kickstarter. Goddammit, I'm wasting my life.

As far as I can tell, you're better off doing the dodgy scamming on Indiegogo with "flexible funding". Unlike Kickstarter, where you'll only walk away with the cash if you manage to scam enough people into fully backing your project, with Indiegogo you'll get as much as you can raise even if it falls short of the goal.
posted by cmonkey at 8:52 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Some guy who is just somehow affording to indefinitely run a business that has high operating costs but doesn't really make any money."

In my socialist utopia, we'll all have these jobs. But you'll get far less social capital from mailing strangers Steppenwolf albums.
posted by klangklangston at 9:11 PM on June 15, 2015


Not so much about this obviously terrible idea in particular, but I'm growing tired of failure being portrayed as a virtue rather than a privilege.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:58 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everything else about this aside, I remember reading about this and wondering how they'd get past the shipping conundrum, and it looks like they never did. About 10 years ago, I was a member of an online CD exchange club, where you'd trade CDs through the site and ship them out to members using the company-provided packaging. Even before they switched from plastic clamshell cases to these flimsy cardboard ones, a number of times I'd get a package in the mail only to find a destroyed CD within. I can't imagine this would be any more feasible with full-sized vinyl records.

As it happens, these people didn't seem to know much about music/copyright law either: at some point they had the genius idea of changing the site to offer users 'streaming copies' of their collection, before someone pointed out to them that they were now essentially running a music piracy site. Whoops!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:57 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


with Indiegogo you'll get as much as you can raise even if it falls short of the goal.

Yea, but indiegogo uses paypal. And they have a track record of even taking money away from legitimate projects, while just generally going bizarroland apeshit.
posted by emptythought at 4:21 AM on June 16, 2015


"Not so much about this obviously terrible idea in particular, but I'm growing tired of failure being portrayed as a virtue rather than a privilege."

In general, we end up with a better society if privileges are shared by more people rather than being restricted. More people should be able to fail because of a robust safety net — it shouldn't just be trust fund kids.
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, I've mentioned it above, and here it is, Polyvinyl's 8th Garage Sale surprises. LPs for $4, CDs for $1, poster bundle for $2.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:31 PM on June 18, 2015


Some guy who is just somehow affording to indefinitely run a business that has high operating costs but doesn't really make any money.

Obligatory Louis
posted by flabdablet at 7:33 PM on June 18, 2015


« Older The 'What's Underneath' Project   |   Yoga for Cats Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments