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The Best Way to Add Your Vinyl LP Collection to Your Digital Media Library

Import Your Vinyl LPs, Buy the Albums, or Subscribe to a Streaming Service

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Import vinyl LPs or Buy the Songs

If you have a large collection of Vinyl LPs, it may be time consuming to import all of them.

Photo (c) Barb Gonzalez - Licensed to About.com
Updated June 09, 2012

Digital music is easy to stream to network media players, media streamers, network TVs, Blu-ray players and AV receivers. You can enjoy your music throughout your house and take it with you on portable devices. Perhaps you have created a music library by importing (ripping) your CD collection to your computer. Still, your digital music library is incomplete without those favorite, dust-collecting vinyl albums that you haven't listened to in a long time. 

At some point, you may wax nostalgic and want to listen to those albums in your collection that you never re-purchased as a CD. Whether you are yearning to hear a Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac or a Rolling Stones album — what is the best way to add your vinyl LPs to your computer's music library for easy access and for streaming to your network media player?  

Digitizing and importing your vinyl LPs is one way to add them to your digital music library. Still, you may find this to be a bigger task than you want to tackle. Here are the ways that you can revive your vinyl LP collection and be able listen to your favorite oldies again.

Completing Your Digital Music Library--3 Options To Add Songs and Albums That Are in Your Vinyl Album Collection

  • Option 1 — Import the music to your computer from the original vinyl LPs.
  • Option 2 — Using your albums as a guide, buy the albums and/or songs from an online music store.
  • Option 3 — Subscribe to a streaming music service.  Search for the songs and music on the service and add them to your account's library for easy access.

Deciding Which Digital Music Option Is Right for You

Before jumping in and buying music or investing in a USB turntable, stop and consider the big picture.  It is common to make piecemeal additions to your digital library.  Without a plan, you may find that you've invested money and time importing music from a USB turntable only to give up and buy the music from an online store such as iTunes or Amazon MP3.

Planning how you want to approach adding your vinyl albums to your digital music library will save you time and money in the long run.  

Ask yourself the following questions to help decide which options are right for you:

How big is your LP collection? - If you only have a few albums, it won't take a long time to import them.  Similarly, or you can buy the few albums without spending a lot of money.  On the other hand, it would require a considerable investment to buy and download all the albums or songs in a large collection, or it would take a long time to import them using a USB turntable

If you have a large collection, you may find it is more cost-effective to pay for a subscription service and find your albums in the online collection.  Subscription services have search features to locate the albums and songs you want and put them into a personal library that can be streamed from "the cloud."  Some services offer the ability to sync your music library with the personal online library you have created so that you can listen to all of your music in one place.

How rare is your LP collection?  Online music stores like iTunes and Amazon have huge numbers of albums.  Still, rare recordings — foreign pressings, obscure titles — may be hard to find.  If you only have a few of these rare items, consider using a service, available locally or online, that will convert your vinyl albums to digital files (digitize) to add to your digital music library.  This usually runs $15 to $20 per album so it can become costly to have the service digitize your entire collection.

Do you listen to music regularly?  If you listen to music frequently and like to have a lot of variety, a subscription music streaming service is perfect for you.  If you only listen to music occasionally — a couple of times every few months — it may make more sense to buy the individual songs or albums rather than pay for a subscription that you don't use every month.

Is your network media player compatible with the music streaming service or music file format?  If you already own a network media player or media streamer, be sure it has an app for the music streaming service you are considering.  Services like Qriocity and Rhapsody are available on a number of players, but not all.  If you don't have the app, consider the buying or importing options.

When buying and downloading music from an online store, be sure that your player can play that type of music file format. Some network media players and components cannot play iTunes: Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players, and the Sony Network Media Player, can only play MP3s.  AppleTV will only play music in your iTunes library.  

Note that if you want to play songs from your iTunes library on an incompatible device, iTunes has a tool to convert your iTunes music to MP3s. You can then export the MP3s to a folder that can be seen by your network media player.

What is the bottom line cost?  As you consider what songs and albums you want to add to your library, do the math.  It might seem expensive to subscribe to an online music streaming service, but it may be economical compared to buying equipment or purchasing songs.  Streaming music services typically cost about $10 per month.  To illustrate:

$150 buys (approximately):

  • A good USB turntable plus software and/or album cleaning supplies OR
  • 115 to 150 DRM-free songs to play on any number of devices — network media players, phones or tablets OR
  • 15 months of an online music subscription service

Listening to old music is like a visit from an old friend.  With a little planning, you can have all of your favorite songs in your digital music library available for easy streaming.

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