Tips for getting a fair price on vinyl records

[People are always asking me about the best way to acquire and sell vinyl. This guest post (the author wishes to remain anonymous) deals with the subject. – AC]

It seems the oldies really are the best when it comes to music; not just the songs, but the medium that people are choosing to listen to the music on as well. As you’ve no doubt read, vinyl is providing serious competition to downloads. People clearly appreciate having something they can hold in their hand as well as put in their ears.

Buyers and sellers have been savvy to the idea that those old discs gathering dust in the attic or chancing the rain in a car boot sale are now potentially valuable. Prices have been thrown around in the media and online, ranging from a few quid to multiple zeroes. With that little nugget of information, it seems vinyl is definitely something to make a noise about!

However, digging out the 33s or 45s doesn’t automatically guarantee instant riches. You have to place your financial needle carefully in the groove to work out the best way of buying or selling your vinyl without being hit by disappointment or offending your local record shop owner. Our guide takes you through the basics of getting a fair price.

Buying

A key factor when shelling out for vinyl is research. Record collectors can be an obsessive bunch, so detail is everything. Having an established interest in musical genres and artists is a great start, though not essential. Scouring the internet and visiting record shops in a bid to know and understand the marketplace is crucial!

Purchasing vinyl as an investment is a tricky balancing act between acquiring what’s in demand and having a nose for what’s going to be valuable down the line.

For example, early pressings of discs recorded by artists before they made the big time are in high demand, with prices to match. Vinyl has found great success as a festive gift, and because classic artists like Elvis have released Christmas-themed albums these are naturally sought after.

If you want to dip your toe into the heady water of buying an expensive vinyl record, be mindful. Some online sellers will advertise an early Beatles record for top whack but it may not be what it seems, or worse still a scam. Trusted sellers with a solid amount of feedback are your best bet for internet deals, though if you fancy the face to face experience a record shop lets you inspect the object in question to your heart’s content.

If you prefer to get an idea of prices from the comfort of your own home and want to see what online retailers are selling a given vinyl record for, then you can use a vinyl record price comparison site to get the price for a record across multiple stores, quickly.

Selling

So you’ve uncovered a stash of records in a relative’s loft, or you need to raise cash by selling a carefully chosen selection from your prized vinyl shelf? There are several important things to remember when flogging your singles and albums.

The first and arguably biggest consideration is what state it’s in. If you’re wanting to get the biggest bang for your musical buck then ideally the disc and sleeve will be in mint condition, or at least ‘very good’. A complete absence of wear and tear is the goal, though a mild amount of aging is tolerated.

Should you not be familiar with the vinyl scene and think that sounds a bit harsh, it’s worth pointing out that the quality of a record can deteriorate, so the more a disc is cherished the better it’s going to sound.

Selling your items in person brings with it some challenges you need to be aware of before you make that shop door bell tinkle. Just because you have a big name album, it doesn’t mean you’ll make a tidy sum. Major releases may be less obtainable on vinyl, but they were also ubiquitous at the time, with many copies in existence. The shop owner may not be as impressed as you think they’re going to be by the likes of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’… unless it’s the rare White Epic Label version of course! High expectations in this area often lead to crushed hopes. That’s where knowing about the more obscure elements of the whole record pressing business come into play.

Also, out of respect to the buyer, you should understand they are trying to run a bricks and mortar business. Online sales have costs deducted, which go to the site you’re using, but shop managers have to factor this in a lot more in order to make a profit. They may be charging more than an eBay seller, but they don’t have the luxury of doing everything from their bedroom.

 

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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