With almost all the music in the world available for free thanks to streaming services, it’s a wonderful time to be a music fan but a difficult time to be a music gifter. Now that you can’t give an audiophile the new album from their favorite artist, what do you give them instead? One of those obnoxious “music is my life” t-shirts? An iTunes gift card that they’ll pretend to like but will never use?
Thankfully, this means you can instead give them something much more unique and memorable this Christmas. These are gifts for music listeners and creators alike that could defy their expectations and enrich their lives.
Creative folks never seem to run out of ways to re-appropriate their old vinyl records. The folks at Vinylux have transformed old school albums into sketchbooks, bowls, and more, but I’m particularly fond of their coasters made out of the center labels.
I did already include this on last year’s list, but if you have a friend who’s a vinyl junkie, you still couldn’t give them a better Christmas gift than this. Vinyl Me, Please is a subscription service that delivers a new special edition record every month, often in an exclusive printing. 2015’s offerings included some of the best indie albums of the year, like Father John Misty’s I Love You Honeybear and Torres’ Sprinter, as well as new versions of old classics, such as this month’s record, Paranoid by Black Sabbath.
As a guitar player who tends to lose his picks after about 1 practice session, I use the hell out of this thing. The Pick Cutter lets you punch your own picks out of whatever material you want – you can buy strips of material of all sorts of colors and patters, but I prefer to recycle my used gift cards and old membership cards this way. Buy a man some picks and he’ll play guitar for a day; buy them a Pick Cutter and they’ll play it for the rest of their life.
You can find plenty of texts about “how music works,” but who better to explain it than one of the most creative, most prolific, and coolest music makers alive today? David Byrne, the mastermind behind the Talking Heads, gathers his experiences from his own musical explorations and experimentations to his travels across the world to break down and attempt to understand why and how we make music. Both academic and personal, it has already become a classic within its field.
Various Non-Streaming Albums
You know what’s bizarre? We’re probably starting to see the first generation of music listeners who have never listened to music in any form other than streaming, who have never purchased a full album. So if you want your young music fan to have a full comprehension of the world of music, you’ll have to buy them the albums that don’t appear on various streaming services.
A few of the best albums of 2015 don’t appear on Spotify, like Joanna Newsom’s Divers, Dr. Dre’s Compton: A Soundtrack, and Jim O’ Rourke’s Simple Songs. Then there are the other contemporary artists who have opted to pull their work from the service, like Taylor Swift, Tom Yorke and The Black Keys. And if you want your newbie listener to catch up on their music history, they’ll need the catalogs of those classic artists absent from the service – The Beatles, Prince, Tool, King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, Garth Brooks, Bob Seger…
Chances are whoever you’re headphone-shopping for has already asked for a pair of Beats, which are great headphones for people who would rather hear an artificially mixed, intensely inaccurate version of their music than the actual thing. But if you want a sound that better captures the authentic sound (a necessity if you make music yourself especially), these Sennheisers provide professional-quality audio for a remarkably affordable price.
You can – and many do – spend a small fortune on recording equipment when really you can get fantastic audio quality for relative cheap these days. The CAD U37 not only delivers great audio quality for the remarkably low price, but it requires no software or installation – just plug it in and start using it with your audio program of choice. Want an example of how it sounds? Well, it happens to be the mic I use to record a certain Nerdophiles music review podcast.
Questlove’s memoir just appeared on paperback earlier this year, so this is your chance to read it “before it was cool,” because this promises to be another music memoir classic on par with Keith Richards’ Life and Patti Smith’s Just Kids. Questlove, founder of the Roots and one of the most renowned living drummers, reveals himself as also a philosopher, a poet and a storyteller in this expansive meditation of a life of music.
You know how some people seem to have that weird intuitive skill to play notes by rubbing the edges of wine glasses and can even play full-fledged songs using them? Okay, maybe that’s just in Miss Congeniality. But no longer! These wine glasses are labeled on the side to indicate where to fill them to in order to reach perfect pitch.
That’s right, the swimsuit of your dreams has finally arrived: a one-piece designed after the iconic drum machine the Roland TR-909. This beach season, make the fashion statement that’ll have your friends saying “What the hell are you wearing?” and “I’m not going out with you like that.”
You know, I think this one speaks for itself.
“Don’t do anything fancy for me this year,” your giftee said. “I only want something simple, something practical.” So what better way to surprise them than with a sound-isolating fully-customizable 5-speaker iPad-included pod that delivers the highest audio quality known to man, down to frequencies that “humans cannot hear but can feel through the vibrations transmitted by a structure-borne membrane inside the backrest,” for a mere $32,000? I mean, you don’t want your giftee to be the only one on the block without one.