(CNN) — In this digital age, many of the world’s iconic record stores have closed their doors. But where does all that vinyl go?
Many classic LPs are ending up in Brazil, where a millionaire music enthusiast has built the world’s biggest collection of music discs.
Zero Freitas calls himself a hunter — a hunter of lost sound.
His obsession has made him the owner of the largest known record collection in the world.
“Everyone thinks I’m obsessed with albums,” he says, “but really it’s an obsession with memory and history, of Brazil and humankind.”
A Brazilian bus magnate who once studied music composition, Freitas has been collecting records his whole life. He owned 3,000 in high school and 30,000 by the time he was 30.
With approval to import shipping containers stacked with records, the numbers have since skyrocketed.
The bulk of his collection, estimated at five million, is located in a former candle factory.
Now he wants to make them available to the public, and he’s taken on 17 interns to help him do it.
At a stage-lighting company also owned by Freitas, they clean and dust, photograph the covers, and painstakingly catalog each one at about 500 records a day.
They’ve catalogued 250,000, a mere drop in the bucket.
But Freitas hopes to open what he’ll call a musical emporium next year, a kind of listening library.
“Ninety percent of the time, people are looking for something from their childhood,” he says. “Culturally irrelevant, but for that person, extremely important.”
When asked what records in his collection are important to him, Freitas said they are a signed album by Brazilian classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and a rare recording of soprano Bidu Sayao, bought for one dollar on eBay.
A buyer who works with Freitas recently told website The Verge it could take 20 years or more to catalog the entire record collection.