This letter was published in the April 2001 issue of (now defunct) Discoveries Magazine detailing how I've used the Internet as an aid to expanding my music collection. If you have a copy of that issue you'll note that what follows has been updated in places from the original text. I've also added pictures to a few paragraphs to spice up this page just a little.
One glaring omission from this letter is how I've used my website as an aid to collecting. That's because it wasn't in existence at the time I wrote my letter. Anyway, I hope you'll be able to use some of my experiences to give you some ideas of your own to help you find that elusive recording you've wanted for so long.
When you're done reading this, check out my article titled "B. W. Stevenson: His Music And Where To Buy It." Though much of the article is specific to that artist, I have some additional tips there which will help you in your search for any artist's recordings.
I realize this is a rather bold statement to make, but these tips really do work! If you don't believe me, check out some success stories I've included at the end of the article. Enjoy!
I was intrigued by the questions you urged your readers to answer with regard to how we're using the Internet to help in our collecting efforts (February 2001 editorial). As the quintessential Internet junkie and one who has relied extensively on the Internet in that effort the last couple of years, I feel eminently qualified to respond to this challenge.
The first thing I looked for via the Internet was a soundtrack CD called Hawks, which was only released in Europe and is somewhat difficult to find. In regard to this effort, I went to a magazine store and purchased copies of both Goldmine and Discoveries (I wasn't a subscriber to either at the time), and I went through all the ads listing websites in both magazines. I compiled quite an impressive list of sites to check, too. As an aside, I have to say that looking through the ads was the only thing I was interested in at the time. I barely glanced at the articles, and once I was done looking through the magazines, I threw them away. Oh, how I regret that move! After unsuccessfully searching through all those websites, I ultimately acquired the Hawks CD on eBay. In fact, eBay is the only place I've ever seen this one available.
Speaking of eBay, that has played an important part in my collecting efforts. I won't dwell on that a lot here since eBay is discussed pretty extensively in Discoveries. However, I'd like to make one point that I don't see a lot of discussion about. In his January Secondary Market Watch column, Robin Platts commented on the presentation of auctions with regard to spelling, punctuation and the general cosmetics of the auction listings, suggesting that poor overall presentation might contribute to low final bids on items. I agree and would also suggest that misspelling in particular might result in potential bidders not even seeing your auction.
For example, a while back I was searching for a copy of the Three Dog Night Seven Separate Fools LP that contained the cards that originally came with the LP. I noticed one seller had the word "separate" misspelled as "seperate." If I had included the album title in my search I would have missed this item altogether.
Using just a plain old search engine has yielded some great additions to my collection as well. I was introduced to the music of Cecilio and Kapono by an aerobics instructor at the health club I attend. A duo from Hawaii, they have some of the best harmonies in adult contemporary rock music that you will ever hear. My aerobics instructor was always playing a song called Goodtimes Together in our class, and I was unable to find a CD with that song. However, through a search engine I was able to locate a business in Hawaii from which I bought three Cecilio and Kapono CDs, including one CD with the song in question, and I have thoroughly enjoyed them.
Fan club websites have also been most useful. I have been a big fan of Rusty Wier since the mid '70s. A highly talented country artist who is virtually unknown outside of his native state of Texas, Rusty is best known for the song Don't It Make You Wanna Dance?, from his album by the same name. However, you might be more familiar with the Bonnie Raitt cover version, which can be found on the soundtrack to Urban Cowboy. I bought Rusty's latest CD last summer (Rusty and Son) and noticed there was a fan club website listed in the liner notes. Upon visiting that site, I discovered a recording of his that I was missing, Kum Bak Bar & Grill. The website also stated that Rusty had given his permission to his fan club president to make copies of his out of print catalog items. I contacted the fan club president, and before long I had a copy of the item I was missing.
Lastly, and I can't take credit for having thought of this search method, I was approached via e-mail recently by a collector from Israel who had been looking for the solo works of Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) for quite some time. I had posted a message on the Napster newsgroup with regard to some of the music I was sharing through Napster and had mentioned that I had all four of these albums, remastered onto CDR. This collector had found me by searching the web using google.com and wanted to know if I'd be interested in trading copies of these CDRs for something in his collection. We completed that trade just recently.
I could go on and on about different ways I've used the Internet to expand my collection, but I think I better stop before this turns into a book. Suffice it to say, though, that the Internet has turned out to be invaluable in terms of finding many things I've been looking for.
A Few Success Stories
[Update - February 25, 2002]
Today I reached the end of a search that has taken literally years to find the Ultimate Holy Grail of my collection, some albums I was missing by the gospel group The Sharrett Brothers. I posted a message on the Classifieds section of A Decade Of Jesus Music: 1969-79 back in September 2001 looking for anything but their self-titled LP. I figured this was a long shot, but nevertheless I'd give it a try. A few days ago I was contacted by someone who had read my message on that board. He said that he had extra copies (!) of the albums I was seeking and wanted to know if I still needed them. Of course, I said yes. After making payment arrangements, I received those albums today.
Now, I'm fully aware that most people reading this don't know who the Sharrett Brothers are and might not care if you did. You have to admit though that you can appreciate what it took for me to find these recordings and just how happy I am to have done so.
[Another Update - September 27, 2003]
Two days ago, I got another item that I've been searching literally years for - a video of an appearance by George Strait on Austin City Limits. Of all the concert videos I've ever seen, it's one of my favorites. George Strait sings several great songs, including an old Bob Wills tune, Cherokee Maiden. This is the only place to my knowledge that he has ever sung this song. In fact, he has never done a studio recording of it, so you can understand why this show is so special to me.
I had taped the show from the TV when it was first broadcast back in 1984. Unfortunately, I hadn't labeled the tape at the time and discovered several months later that I had accidentally taped over it. The hunt for another copy was on.
I had come close to getting my hands on this video a few times, but each time the deal fell through. One person in particular who I had talked to online said he had loaned his tape to a friend and would try to get it back. I never heard from him again.
Coincidentally, a fellow Bee Gees fan contacted me saying she was pretty sure she had a copy of this concert. As I'd had my hopes raised before, I tried not to get too excited. Yet this time, she really did have it and sent me a copy. This concert was everything that I remembered it to be - and more!
Bottom line is this: NEVER give up searching until you find what you're looking for.