HomeCD JunkiesCD Junkies: Collector Steve Herold

CD Junkies: Collector Steve Herold

Working in film and TV, Steve Herold is constantly traveling. This allows the CD Junkie to hit up lots of record stores throughout the country. Herold is the founder of the award-winning independent film company Joint Films. He’s also a YouTuber, using the platform to show off his CD collection, which currently stands at approximately 1,600 discs.

Herold lives in Red Bank, New Jersey, home to “an awesome record store” called Jack’s Music Shoppe. In 1987, he got a CD player for Christmas, and he’s been collecting ever since. In this interview, Herold talks about his most noteworthy CD finds, the underrated musicianship of Bow Wow Wow, his YouTube channel, and more.

360°Sound: Do you remember the first CD you ever bought?

Steve Herold: I knew I was going to get the CD player as a gift so I remember buying a copy of Van Halen’s debut before Christmas so I had something to at least take it for a test drive that morning. But also, with my CD player (it was a Sony), they offered three free CDs through mail order. They had a list you could pick from, and I remember picking U2’s Joshua Tree, Genesis’s Invisible Touch and Peter Gabriel’s So.

What are some of your favorite genres?

I listen to a lot of different stuff. I’m not a fan of country, though. Some of my favorites are punk, rock, reggae, electronic and R&B. In the last eight or nine years I’ve discovered a newfound respect for ‘80s new wave bands. A lot of them were much better musicians than I think I ever gave them credit for.

I found a Best of Bow Wow Wow CD at McKay’s in Nashville a few years ago for less than a dollar. All I knew by them was “I Want Candy,” but I listened to that CD and was impressed with the playing.

The first band I was really into was The Who which was 100% influenced by my older brother’s record collection. But Van Halen was the band for me. Probably around 1984 I started collecting Van Halen stuff: promos, bootlegs, imports, etc. Lord knows how much money I spent on my Van Halen collection over the years. But it’s been years since I collected their stuff. I even started selling a lot of it off; time to let someone else enjoy it.

Other favorites include Dramarama, The Muffs, Jimmy Cliff, Agent Orange, The Primitives, Descendents, Fishbone, Sahara Hotnights, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Police, Replacements, Screaming Females, The Untouchables, and X.

What do you love about the CD format? 

The sound. I collect vinyl as well and I understand the arguments people have between the two formats. But the sound quality of a CD just can’t be beat. I’ve read articles by engineers who say when they hear the record on CD that is the way they heard it in the studio. It’s also nice to be able to put on a CD and not have to get up a short while later to flip it. And now, a big benefit is the price. Used CDs are really cheap these days.

Tell us a little about your YouTube channel, which has racked up over 11 million views.

I had been watching a bunch of people’s videos showing off their collections when covid hit. I was pretty bored, and those videos inspired me to start doing the same. At the time my CDs were all boxed up because I was between apartments, so I mostly was focusing on my vinyl. But then as I started traveling for work again, I started doing videos highlighting the stores I would hit up in different cities. I try to show a bit of the store and just go over what I purchased during my visit.

Now that my CDs are unpacked, I’ve started spotlighting one artist and showing what CDs I have by them. I try to tell a little about my connection to the CDs. But I really like doing the ones about my store visits the most. It’s important to me to highlight these indie record shops and support them as much as possible.

What are some of your favorite record stores? What was your most memorable CD find?

The first thing I do when I know where I’ll be traveling to next is look up any local record stores. Making sure they have used CDs is important to me. I’ll still buy vinyl here and there, but my main focus is CDs.

Some of the best I’ve visited: Amoeba in Hollywood and San Francisco. I’m sure the Berkeley one is great too, but I’ve never been there. Princeton Record Exchange is awesome. Monster Music in Charleston, South Carolina is incredible, and they have a 20% off CD sale every month. Capital City Records in Baton Rouge. Cactus Music in Houston. Record Archives in Rochester is a recent visit that really impressed me. Freak Beat in Sherman Oaks, CA is another great one.

Jack’s that I mentioned I live near has an incredible used CD section. It almost feels curated because it’s rare to find just the same old same old CDs in their selection. When it comes to memorable purchases the first thing that pops in my head is International Herb by Culture. I bought a copy a few years ago through Amazon and when I got it, the disc was labeled properly, but it had the wrong album on it. So I returned it. Got a replacement and had the same issue.

A few years go by, and I found it at a store and bought it, same issue. So I was under the impression they were all defective and I would never find a copy of it with the correct songs on it. Cut to 2020 I’m working in Alaska and stopped in Obsession Records in Anchorage. They had a used copy of the CD, and I asked if they could put it in the player to test it out. Suddenly, I hear the first few beats of the title track blast out. Lo and behold, I finally found a copy. And in Alaska of all places.


How do you feel about the future of the CD? Do you think we will see a revival similar to what has happened with vinyl?

Funny you ask because I think about that a lot. Sometimes when I go to these record stores, I’m the only one digging through the CDs while everyone else is looking for vinyl. And now cassettes are even making a comeback, which I don’t get at all. But I think I’d be shocked if at some point CDs didn’t start having a resurgence.

I think it takes that time for a younger generation to discover them and dig the nostalgia factor of them. That’s what’s happening with cassettes. I definitely feel like some of the prices for used CDs are starting to creep back up in certain places so maybe it’s beginning. My fear is labels and artists will stop releasing their albums on CDs. They definitely feel like an afterthought when new records come out. I’ve seen some artists recently release something new on vinyl and cassette but no CD. Fingers crossed the CD doesn’t go the way of the dodo.

Here’s Steve showing off his Van Halen import CD collection:

Dig Steve’s YouTube channel @STEVEHEROLD

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