Roundup Vinyl brings back the record club vibe

As anybody who has lived through several decades knows, trends often come back around just when you least expect it. Beginning in the 1950s, Columbia House and other companies began “record clubs” – subscription services where customers could receive their favorite new music through the mail. Such services were popular through the nineties, when companies touted bottom-of-the-barrel prices for CDs. Yesterday, Rounder Records announced the return of the record club, only in a slightly different format.

Whereas record clubs of the past often allowed customers to choose their favorite albums to order, Rounder’s club, which they’ve called Roundup Vinyl, is more akin to the “box” subscriptions that are so popular these days, in which subscribers receive monthly selections of a certain item (makeup, dog toys, food, etc.) hand-picked by a team of experts. Roundup Vinyl will offer quarterly mailings of three albums – vinyl, not CD – curated by the three founders of Rounder Records, IBMA Hall of Fame members Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton Levy, and Bill Nowlin. The packages will also contain a letter offering a glimpse into the background of the albums and the reasons for their selection.

The first package contains music that’s sure to please edge-of-bluegrass fans. The three albums include Bela Fleck’s Juno Concerto, which features the Colorado Symphony Orchestra; Manic Revelations from Americana/roots singer-songwriter Pokey LaFarge; and Universal Favorite, a solo album from modern banjo master Noam Pikelny. According to Rounder Records, one of their goals in selecting records for each package is to ensure that “the music bows in respect to the trailblazers of the past and is concurrently fully steeped in the present.”

While it may be easier to simply login to iTunes or Amazon and have a new album on your phone within seconds, there’s a certain excitement about waiting for a new treasure to come in the mail, anticipating its arrival, and knowing it will be something you truly enjoy. The first set of albums ships May 18, and subscriptions to Roundup Vinyl are discounted for a limited time. For more information and to subscribe, visit

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About the Author

John Curtis Goad

John Goad is a graduate of the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program, with a Masters degree in both History and Appalachian Studies from ETSU.