Seems like everyone is celebrating the vinyl resurgence.
Except those of us who were around before the comeback.
Record store openings here in Toronto seem to be at an all-time high since widespread closures back in the mid-2000’s.
And yet, not all of us vinyl nerds are happy about it.
I find myself torn between my allegiances to the record stores who are cashing in on the trendiness of the analog medium with Millennials and the steadfast community of collectors who never gave up on the medium in the first place.
I’m happy that the Mom and Pop record shop can continue to be successful in 2016. And yet, I’m unhappy that it’s at the expense of the seasoned buyer.
Stores peddling newly released indie rock and pop titles, limited edition Record Store Day releases and deluxe reissue boxes are laughing all the way to the bank.
And the vintage stores are answering by raising prices on traditionally cheaper pieces like Steely Dan and Rolling Stones records for a younger audience that quite frankly, doesn’t know any better.
The problem with this is simple – a $5 Joni Mitchell record shouldn’t be selling for $15-$20.
And yet, I’ve seen all of these super basic titles go up in price as if they are somehow rare or hard to find.
There are literally millions of these records in circulation, because they are the most popular records of their era.
There is no way Michael Jackson’s Thriller should be $25 in any record store. It’s the biggest selling record of all time. It’s literally the most common record in the world.
It is the very definition of a dollar bin record.
And yet, stores continue to raise the prices on these popular titles because it’s easy to make a buck off a rookie buyer who doesn’t know any better.
Now, as an old head, I’m probably not looking to score my first copy of Thriller, so you might be asking “what’s the difference if a younger buyer gets ripped off?”
Well – for a couple of reasons.
First, record stores looking to cash in on this trend are making a habit of overpricing everything in their stores – largely based on past sales of online auctions.
Stores will often price their records based on the highest recorded sale, not the median price.
If one collector was willing to grossly overpay for a title, that shouldn’t dictate the overall market value of an item.
That’s just the price one idiot was willing to pay.
Yet, this trend of trying to cash in on the “vinyl resurgence” has record stores chasing these ridiculous price tags, trying to turn a medium ticket item into a holy grail.
That wouldn’t be happening if these rookies weren’t overpaying for everything.
Secondly, the “vinyl resurgence” has made some record stores lazy. Many stores continue price their records without accurately identifying their condition. If someone paid $100 for a sealed original deadstock copy of a record doesn’t mean you can charge $100 for your scuffed up Albanian press with ringwear.
Please learn to grade a record and evaluate its value fairly, according to its condition – not just the highest auction price you could find online.
Thirdly, easy money from reissues and inflated RSD titles have stores neglecting their vintage stock. Vintage buyers can expect to see the same stock in the new arrivals bin for months and months on end without replenishment.
What’s the point of even carrying vintage stock if you don’t go to the trouble of keeping your store fresh?
It’s disheartening to go into a store after 2 months and find the exact same overpriced records in the bins just sitting there.
And yet, we continue to support you. Because we can’t help it. We just love records that much.
There’s something about the tactile experience of flipping through records in a shop that online buying can’t beat.
The familiar face who knows your taste so well, s/he can pull out a title you’ve never seen that’s tailor made for you.
The rush of finding something incredible in the dollar bin that you can’t wait to tell your friends about.
I ask record stores to remember the ones who never stopped coming.
Remember the ones who didn’t sell their entire collection post-Serato.
Remember the ones who stayed loyal.
Store owners: you didn’t get into records because they’re trendy.
And neither did we.
1. Lonnie Liston Smith – Voodoo Woman
2. Timeless Legend – Checking you out
3. La Clave – Move your hand
4. Daniel Janin – Extreme Oriente
5. Gil Scott Heron – Is that jazz?
6. Tony Grazette – Take the funky feeling
7. Delilah Moore – Being wise
8. Primo Kim – Right turn
9. Jacques Carre and Patrick Petibon – Assis au sol, flexions en avant
10. Pookah – Rain on your grave
11. The Mandrake Memorial – Sunday Noon
12. Thomas Almqvist – Horisont”
13. Vladimir Misik – Obelisk
14. Mary Lou Williams – Holy Holy Holy
15. Wild Fire – A little more love
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