People Are Paying This Man $1,000 for His Vinyl. Why?

Because they’re very, very good records. Wired explains what that means.

HOW MUCH WOULD you pay for an original copy of The Beatles’ Abbey Road? If you shop at Better Records, the answer is plenty: $650. Other staples from the heyday of vinyl command equally astronomical prices. Fleetwood Mac’s eponymous LP: $500. The Police’sSynchronicity: $350. Even kitsch like The B-52s is a sticker shocker at $220.

And that’s the cheap stuff. Prices for wish list titles like The Who’s Tommy, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and The Beatles’ White Album would make a military contractor blush: $1,000.

Price gouging? Not according to Better Records owner Tom Port. He thinks a thousand bucks is a bargain to hear a classic rock opus sound better than you’ve ever heard it sound before—stoned or sober.

“I’d like to charge $1,500, because that’s what I think these records are worth,” he says. “But I don’t, because the customers balk.”

This is what passes for fiscal restraint in the world of high-end audio: drawing the line at three figures for mass-produced records that sold in the millions, the same dorm room relics found in milk crates at tag sales. But Port insists that his meticulously curated discs are special. Unlike many record dealers, he doesn’t peddle the usual dreck pocked with scratches and pot resin. He traffics strictly in “hot stampers,” the very best of the best.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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