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Best Music Gifts 2022 | The Mary Sue

Lisa and her new friend grooving out

Now’s the perfect time to start thinking about what gifts you want to get for your loved ones, but for the music lovers in your life, it might be a little tricky. Taste is a very personal thing, and just like buying books, you never know if a guess is going to pay off. Plus, music can be an expensive investment! It helps to know what you’re getting into before spending.

Thankfully, after a lifetime of asking mostly for CDs and concert tickets, I have insider intel to help you out on this endeavor. Here are some ideas I’ve got for your gift-hunting needs as 2022 comes to a close.

Concert Tickets

Oftentimes live performances are even better than studio ones. This is an old favorite example of mine.

Typically people don’t think to buy tickets around this time of year, since it’s when many bands start to end their tours and stick to their hometowns for shows. However, depending on where their hometowns are, it’s still worth looking into. One of my favorite bands is from LA and will be playing in town soon, so I’ve been telling all my friends to not invest in a gift for me and to just come with me as a gift.

Some bands are even starting to announce their tours for 2023, so it’d be an especially thoughtful gesture to hop on the ball early so your loved one doesn’t have to worry in advance.

Festival Tickets

Chicagoans stretching out at Lollapalooza
(Live Nation Entertainment)

Now, if your loved one loves festies, it might be a smarter investment overall to get festival tickets. These things are expensive, often running way over $200 just for one day. But god, it’s worth it. If you’ve never been to a festival yourself, trust me when I say it’s worth it.

Some festivals have already announced for 2023, such as Lollapalooza, which will be in Chicago during early August. They’ve yet to put together a lineup, but come on, it’s Lolla in Chi. Even my introverted ass will try to make it out there.

The Beatles’ Revolver, Super Deluxe Edition

We’ve continued to get more and more Beatles fanfare, even several years after the band’s dissolution. It’s a little tired, sure, and as a fan myself I wish they’d just let the guys rest, but if you have a Beatles fan in your life, it’s definitely an apt gift for the holiday season.

The Super Deluxe Edition will contain the following:

This 2CD Special Edition of The Beatles’ REVOLVER features a new mix by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, plus a disc of highlights from the album sessions that includes early versions of songs that deepen and expand the story of the album, as well as new stereo mixes of the non-album single, “Paperback Writer” and “Rain,” and a 40-page booklet with detailed info and rare photos.

I thought I’d poo-poo this edition, but I gotta admit, the acoustic version of “Yellow Submarine” is gorgeous.

Record Store Gift Certificate

Patti Smith’s Record Store Day promo.

If you’re lucky and live near a cool local record store, you can do a twofer of goodness and get your loved one a gift card from there. Then, you won’t have to agonize over their taste, AND you’re supporting your local record store. Good karma all around!

I know it’s easy to just do things online and refer to chain stores, but as an anti-capitalist, I gotta stick my neck out for the little guys when I can. And as a receiver of Barnes and Nobles gift cards growing up, gotta say, it feels cooler to get a gift card from a place with a name like “Goopy Booger Records” instead.

A New Instrument

(Naughty Dog)

Maybe your loved one is more into the making of music, and could do without the listening. In that case, there’s always a guitar on the rack to be picked up. Whether you go to your local used store, your local luthier (who’ll charge an arm and a leg, but is often worth it), or your standard Guitar Center, you’ll find no shortage of guitars or otherwise.

Yes, instruments are expensive, and like pets they require a fair bit of attention (well, in this case, mostly to justify the price), so be sure your loved one is committed before buying. And once you’re committed, do your research before buying. There’s a lot of crappy brands out there that might be good for someone just testing the waters, but won’t be sustainable beyond a year or so (i.e. Yamaha-brand guitars, although Yamaha keyboards are pretty good for your buck).

Some New Gear

Now, maybe your loved one is already set up on the instrument front. In that case, they might benefit from some new little doo-dads. Every musician in my life has always geeked out over new pieces of gear, and even if they end up not using them, the gesture has always left a positive impact on them.

By gear, I mean practical things, like loop pedals, new amps, synthesizers, and so on. You know, the good stuff. A capo will do fine, sure, and a new pair of sticks would certainly be appreciated. But if you really want to make someone’s day, you’ll want to dole out the big bucks.

Physical Media (CDs, LPs, etc.)

Stranger Things' Eddie gets heated about tunes
(Netflix)

So yes, while you might be taking a gamble on your loved ones’ tastes buy purchasing physical media, ultimately it’s another piece to add to the collection, and that’s pretty dope. Again, to reiterate an earlier point, it feels better to receive a record from a local or used record store. One of my prized possessions is an old Pete Seeger record, which I value way more than the Urban Outfitters edition of Vampire Weekend’s self-titled album I got in my teens. It cost less, too.

But, either way, a record’s a record, and in an age when digital formats are going haywire anyways, it never hurts to have a surplus of the old boys on hand.

A Mixtape

Coco Diablo and Velma in 'Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!"
(Warner Bros.)

Haha, I know, it’s so cliche, but mixtapes really do mean a lot. Even if you end up never talking to the person again, a mixtape is something you don’t just give up. They’re a product of effort, which means that in order to make one, someone has to really care about you. That’s sweet, you know?

We already place a lot of cultural emphasis on Spotify playlists. To y’all kids, lemme tell ya: you know how good it feels when someone makes you a playlist? Receiving a home-brewed mix feels even better. I still have the mixes given to me by people I don’t even talk to anymore.

…well, that’s not true, mixes can get cringey real quick. But there’s charm in that which can’t be replicated digitally. Plus, if you’re savvy, mixes won’t even cost you anything to make. Have fune with it. Let out your inner DJ.

(Featured Image: 20th Century Fox)

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