I've never been the type of person to buy music. Hell, for the majority of my life you could say that I wasn't much of a "music person" at all. While I loved what I loved deeply, it meant that much of my formative years were spent listening to the same Green Day albums on repeat, occasionally dipping my toe into other genres while militantly pretending to not like anything that could be considered pop. It truly was a dark time. But as I got older and my tastes became (slightly) more varied, I eventually thought to myself "yep, I want to get in on this whole music lark."

But where do you even start when it comes to buying music? I'm quite a visual person, and I'm obsessed with owning physical media so straight away digital downloads were out of the question. Similarly, I like pretending to be quite vintage and respectful of the past but even then I'm not willing to put up with the task of having to track down working cassettes - and honestly it's been so long that I don't even think I'd recognise a tape player if I saw one. The next logical step from there was CDs, but once again even my obsessive desire to own physical copies of everything couldn't bring me to commit to a collection of the ugliest way to store music known to man. Seriously, just like DVDs, CDs and their terrible cheap plastic aesthetic need to be put to rest. They've had a good run - it's time to pull the plug.

With all that said, it seemed as though the only choice left was vinyl. Now, on the surface this was pretty much the perfect option for me. Decent sound quality? Check. A great physical presence that takes up so much space that I'm guaranteed to regret it as soon as I move to a new flat? Double check. Gorgeous blown-up cover art that I'll spend more time looking at than actually listening to the record inside? You're goddamn right. However, I had heard that buying a record player was a major commitment - on par with buying a dog or taking out a mortgage or something - a potential technical nightmare and more pain than it's worth for someone like me who couldn't tell you what "RPM" stands for.

But I hadn't made an impulsive purchase in a while and like the irresponsible millennial I am set off to buy my first ever record player (or maybe "turntable" - I don't know if they're interchangeable so let me off). Clearly, I didn't know what I was looking for; without the insane budget that pretty much every website I went to for advice recommended I decided to settle for something on the lower end of the spectrum. I didn't know at that time, but that decision would one of many that would be balked at by other Music People that I knew. See, the record player I picked up was pretty much a bare-bones and basic set-up made for people who didn't know a pre-amp from a plinth. While I fit the target audience perfectly, I had apparently already made some of music's cardinal sins.

For one, my record player had, gasp, built-in speakers. Both people I met in real life as well as so-called experts on the internet rolled their eyes at this, for reasons I wasn't so sure about. I knew having built-in speakers wouldn't provide the best sound quality, but all I wanted from this record player in the first place was to be able to actually buy and play music. My tone-arm (which I didn't know meant that needle that plays the record until after I read the instructions twice) was also apparently not up to snuff, being too straight and not even having a counter-weight to make sure it grooves with the record properly. If you're wanting the best sound quality out of your purchases and want to make sure your records stay in top condition over long exposure then these are definitely issues you need to consider before you decide on the turntable you want. However, not having these features doesn't somehow mean you're not into music as much as anyone else. The amount of money you put into a hobby does not equate to enthusiasm for it.

While I didn't have a problem with my set-up, it seemed that many other people did. I've tried to break into spaces that I've known nothing about before, yet none have come with quite the hierarchal impenetrability of music enthusiasts. All over the web you can find articles dictating that you have to spend x amount of money and pick up x amount of products in order to prove that you're "serious" about your purchases. It was a weird environment to stumble into; I thought you'd just be able to grab a couple of records and get on with it, but every think-piece or feature you come across is primed with a set of pre-requisites than alienates everyone but the hardcore.

Not too long ago I went to a second-hand vinyl sale, my first real experience with the kind of enthusiasts that you hear about all the time - and I didn't care for it one bit. All I wanted to do was scour each stall for some cheap Bowie albums that I couldn't find on the internet and it felt way more awkward than it should have been. Every time I didn't understand a question about the type of set-up I had or failed to register a classic album that I should have listened to before was followed with a silence that made me increasingly resentful of the whole experience. I had heard spaces like this provided a warm inclusive environment for would-be beginners - and while some individuals certainly lived up to that reputation - it quickly devolved into a strangely cold experience.

Of course, these examples aren't representative of everyone you come across. It's not exactly some kind of special club that you need to qualify to be in: literally anyone can pick up a record player if they want. Yet a strong vocal minority indicates otherwise. Vinyl isn't really this dedicated, high-maintenance hobby, yet that's the impression you get in the mainstream, which is rampant with a kind of music snobbery you'd only expect to see in the comments section of the NME (now I'm being a bit snobby, aren't I?). Unfortunately, the people I met at that market have become very much the face of the type of elitist, high-bar-for-entry articles that are so prevalent in the online space. If I had done more research (which, to be honest, I probably should have done to avoid some rookie mistakes) I might have rightfully been put off by the intimidating expectations and limiting requirements that are touted in order to get the "proper" vinyl experience.

Unfortunately, there's somewhat of a misconception in these spaces that there's somehow a "right way" to buy vinyl, but there's not. If you're doing it to make your bedroom look pretty or to add some flavour to your living room then go for it. It's not up to a bunch of grubby old fellas who insist on music collecting being some kind of higher, elitist art form. They're the same "old man yells at cloud" type who whine on about "real music these days" and should never, under ay circumstances, be listened to.