The Re-Birth of Records
Published in the Spring 2013 edition of Vintage KC Magazine
Written by Michael and James Fry
They say that everything moves in cycles. What used to be someone’s garage sale leftovers can become tomorrow’s hottest collectible. While we won’t say that iPods & iPhones are taking a backseat to vinyl, we will go on the record that records are making a significant comeback. Over the last decade CD sales have steadily declined while record sales are more than ten times what they were in the 90’s. The growing popularity of vinyl, along with the explosion of digital media, has resulted in many musicians skipping CD’s altogether when releasing new albums. National stores such as Barnes & Noble and Urban Outfitters are following the trend by stocking both new and re-released classics on vinyl.
At first glance it would seem strange to see the comeback of records in this digital age with the ability to carry one’s entire music collection in your pocket. We would venture that it is this intangibility of digital media that is at least partially responsible for the recent rise in LP’s. People enjoy putting their hands on a record and watching it spin. Not to mention the fact that album art just isn’t the same on your mobile screen. These reasons, while good, don’t get to the heart of the matter. If you ask a true audiophile about the basis of vinyl’s superiority, they will tell you it all comes down to one thing: sound. The tracks on a record have not been compressed like other audio formats and, if played on a quality turntable, you will hear musical nuances that you will never catch on a CD or MP3.
The growing interest in all things vinyl creates new opportunities for resellers. As with all re-selling activities a little knowledge goes a long way toward making you profitable. When looking to enter the world of record buying-and-selling, there are three main factors driving value: condition, interest, and supply. All three are important when on the hunt for valuable records. You might think you’ve hit the jackpot when you find a perfect copy of a well liked album such as The Eagles “Their Greatest Hits” only to find out later that it is one of the highest selling albums of all time with little more than $5.00 in value. Or you might unearth a fairly rare Beatles “All You Need Is Love” 3 song Iranian EP that a dog chewed on; the teeth marks dropping its value to $12.00 instead of the $120.00 it might have brought. It’s only in the convergence of condition, interest, and supply that things really start getting exciting. A good example of a rare LP from a high interest artist would be Johnny Cash’s original self titled debut on Sun Records. In very good condition it can sell for over $150.00.
To get you started we have compiled a short list of artists that carry a broad and steady interest in the record collecting community: Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan (mostly his albums from the 60’s), David Bowie, early Elvis Presley, John Coltrane, The Beatles (as a group as well as their solo work), Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and The Rolling Stones. Beyond this elementary list the best way to get acquainted with what is desirable and valuable in the world of records is to study selling prices. Check websites like eBay or Amazon and stop by your local record stores to peruse the shelves. We have several quality establishments in the area including Zebedee’s RPM and Renaissance Vinyl on 39th Street in Westport, and Love Garden in Lawrence.
When delving into the wide world of vinyl, records players are of equal importance to buy, sell, and enjoy. The different types and qualities of players available are as diverse as the music that plays on them. A few categories to consider are: turntables that look really cool but have mediocre sound quality, turntables with good sound quality but less than impressing design, and the magic combination – turntables that sound amazing and have awesome looks to boot. In the first category you have suitcase record players. Often made of plastic, they fold in half and have a handle for easy transportation. Made by companies like Zenith, Crosley, Tele-Tone, GE, and RCA these portable record players are all-in-one, with built in speakers and no need to be connected to a receiver. They are great for esthetics and comparatively inexpensive, but to the true audiophile’s ear they probably won’t make the cut. These types of players can be purchased (or sold) in the range of $20 to $70. We’ll now skip the middle category (because it’s boring) and go straight to record players that both sound and look grand (because this is where things get interesting and potentially profitable). A few turntables in this category would include the Marantz 6300, Thorens TD-124, and our favorite – the Dual CS-5000. With casings of solid wood, all three players are great centerpieces for your record collection and will make any album sound amazing. These turntables can range from $300 to over $1,000 depending on the condition and what type of cartridge (or needle) they come with. If you stumble across one of these record players for a low price, you’ve either found a nice profit or exponentially increased the quality of your music listening equipment. (If neither interest you, then give us a call and tell us where to purchase it).
Whether you have the ear to hear the quality of a Dual CS-5000 turntable with Martin Logan speakers or you just enjoy finding that rare album that makes your day of estate sale shopping profitable, we hope that we have assisted you on your vinyl journey and we wish you happy picking.