Business Spotlight: Life of Vinyl, Thornaby

Growing up as music fans I’m sure some, if not all, of our most cherished memories entered, and remained, in our consciousness because of the sounds we were hearing at the time of the activities.

Perhaps the reason we have such a vivid memory of our school disco, or the first time we got drunk, or our first football match is not because of the activity itself, but because of its soundtrack.

For me, it tends to be the soundtrack that I remember first when recalling those memories. In the three examples I chose, for instance, that would read Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, Whighfield’s ‘Saturday Night’ and Springsteen’s ‘I’m Going Down’ (some tracks worth sticking in my mind, one not so much).

According to Dr. Richard Huganir, memories are created as a response to having experiences and the way that those experiences are processed through one (or more) of our five senses (sight, taste, hearing, smell and touch). Our senses stimulate our neurology and create memories, therefore the greater we sense something the more memorable that experience becomes.

As music fans, it’s likely that we favour our auditory senses to ‘the other four’, meaning that the soundtrack we hear during our experiences becomes the ‘hook’ which we use to create, and recall, memories.

An independent study by Manchester University earlier this century found that fans of music tend to favour their hearing and touch senses. This may explain why we spend so much time in record stores; essentially we like to hear new sounds and touch new items (like records). New music is important to us, not only because we enjoy it, but also because new, and interesting, sounds stimulate our brains and create memories that we enjoy recalling.

When I caught up with Debbie Cockerill, the manager of Stockton-based super record store, Life of Vinyl, she made a similar correlation between (some) music lovers and their preference for: “tangible, analogue products over digital music,” referencing her belief that a strong element of the music fan community still prefer “vinyl instead of downloads, books instead of e-Books, as well as comics and artwork. Having something tangible to feel and look at is certainly important to a certain section of music lovers”.

Welcoming and friendly, with a great soundtrack to increase the likelihood of forming strong memories, Debbie has designed Life of Vinyl to be more than just a record store but: “a place music lovers can go and fully immerse their senses in the record buying experience”. The instant gratification of a digital download isn’t to be championed in this store.

Whether a lover of vinyl, record players, music memorabilia or books, Life of Vinyl clearly sets out its mission to encourage music lovers to take their time and really listen to, and touch, music in an environment which has clearly been designed for music lovers, by music lovers.

Knowledgeable, customer friendly and witty, the Life of Vinyl team are an interesting bunch as proved by the conversation we struck up with Debbie about diverse music interests such as new vinyl’s to the store (“Frank Sinatra and Sam Smith”), the first records she bought (“10cc’s ‘I’m Mandy Fly Me’ and first LP Deep Purple’s ‘Machine Head’”) and how to look after newly acquired LPs (“No extremes in temperature, keep records standing straight up, use clear sleeves and make sure the stylus on your record player is never worn down”).

For fans of music driven by their touch and feeling senses, locations like Life of Vinyl will always be more important than almost any type of store; and more emotive than downloading music digitally. The next time you’re looking to create some lasting memories we’d recommend you headed on down.

Life of Vinyl is located at The Hambleton Business Centre, Fleck Way in Teesside Industrial Estate. For further information please head to