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Interview: Neil Schield of Origami Vinyl (Which Opens Its Doors Today)

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Origami Vinyl opens today in Echo Park
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When Neil Schield was in high school, one of his teachers asked him, "What do you want to accomplish by your 10-year reunion?" He answered without hesitation, "I want to open a record store." Today is the realization of that dream with the grand opening of Origami Vinyl. And although it didn't happen in time for his high school reunion, Schield feels the timing is right.Getting to this day has been a bit of a journey. After college, Schield worked for Sony and Interscope, then started the Origami Music label, which puts artists in the driver's seat allows them to retain all their rights. And today he is adding Origami Vinyl to the mix—an eclectic store stocked full of new vinyl records. The second level of the shop will serve as a space for live music, and Origami will also be a place to buy tickets for Spaceland, the Echoplex and the Echo. LAist sat down with Schield at Masa to discuss his love of vinyl records, the visit Pete Townshend recently paid to the store, and why Echo Park is such a thriving community.

LAist: There seems to be a disparity in how we get our entertainment nowadays. Our TV screens have never been bigger, and yet we're also watching movies and TV shows on tiny iPods. Technology is such that you don't even need physical media to listen to music, and at the same time, more people than ever are turning to vinyl. Why do you think that is?

Neil Schield: I think there are a few reasons for that. The first has to do with sound quality. I think a lot of people are starting to realize that there's a warmth to vinyl that isn't available in digital media. Many people who have grown up with iPods and whatnot are starting to discover vinyl as a cool hobby—it's retro, but it's also interactive. Nowadays, even 18-25 year-olds are starting record clubs. They might listen to their iPod all over the place, but when they come home and have friends over, they'll listen to a record.

The third thing really came to the forefront a few years ago, and independent labels really hit the nail on the head with this one. They knew they wanted to sell physical product because the artwork is so cool and the vinyl sounds better. They asked themselves, "How do we get people to buy the records and pay attention?" They started to package free coupon codes for the MP3s with each record. So for $10 on iTunes you could buy this product, or for $10 at a record store, you could get the vinyl plus the MP3s. It's just this great value-add that has pushed people into thinking, "I'd also like to have the physical piece of this."