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May 8, 2013

The Rising Cost of New Vinyl

Money

Or, Shove Your $30 Smiths Reissues Up Your Collective Asses

By Colin Tappe

I

came to the conclusion recently that my job as a record store owner is, first and foremost, to make record buying fun. Sure, keeping things organized, having a good relationship with customers and keeping the stock flowing are all crucial elements of running a successful shop, but all that doesn’t amount to the proverbial hill of beans if the overall experience for the record buyer isn’t fun.

The difficulty in this task lies in anticipating and adapting to every customer’s individual notion of fun. For some it’s finding a gem in the dollar bins, for others it’s walking in and seeing marquee items on the wall. Some want to be left alone to shop, while others will treat you like an amateur psychiatrist and talk your ear off. People want classic titles, what’s new and happening, and the desperately obscure (sometimes all in the same record). However, something that’s patently unfun for all parties involved is the increasingly common $30 retail price tag on new titles or reissues.

Of course as record sales dwindle, or even recuperate at a sluggish pace, these kind of reckless cash grabs from a wounded industry are par for the course. From major to indie, anyone releasing physical music at this point has to adapt to a market which is becoming more and more specialized, fickle and indifferent. And the word on every label’s mind these days is “downsizing;” doing more with less while adapting to a smaller market. Record buyers have accepted the financial reality that lower vinyl runs equate to higher prices, and perhaps because of this begrudging acceptance, it seems that certain labels have been nudging their vinyl prices up in some twisted game to see how much the record buying public will put up with.

Major labels notoriously blew it in the ‘90s by killing the single as a format and outrageously overpricing CDs, which of course lead to the downloading revolution and the crippling of an industry. Now that they’ve been given a chance to redeem themselves with the resurgence of interest in vinyl, not only are they shooting themselves in the foot, but it’s the same foot, the same gun, and they’re even reusing the bullet!

I’m not ignorant of the high cost of manufacturing records and the realities of inflation, but there’s no way to justify an increase from $13 to $19 per title — the going wholesale rate for some Rhino reissues, for instance — within a year’s time without greed creeping into the equation somewhere. And greed can be good, as Kirk Douglas taught us in Wall Street, but when it’s a dumb, myopic greed that will only hurt all participants in the long run, I can only muster an exasperated amalgam of an eye roll, head shake and jerk off motion.

What the labels propagating these high priced reissues overlook is how vital teenagers are to the future of “the industry.” Of course teenagers and college kids generally aren’t dropping four figures on rare soul 45s or scrutinizing matrix etchings by any means, but the ancient craft of taking your allowance to the record store and seeing how far you can stretch it is alive and well. Every day I sell records to high school aged kids, and you don’t have to listen very closely to hear them groan and lament the high price tags on the reissue du jour as they flip past to swoop on the $5-$10 Van Halen and Black Flag records (and Rush, too…who knew kids were so into Rush these days?).

I cannot overstate the importance of keeping young people involved in buying records. Even if you’re some crusty collector who sticks to the sad-old-man digger circuits, how much value will your deep groove treasure trove maintain if no new blood enters the playing field to agree that what you have is worth what you say it’s worth? And obviously the industry’s number one priority should be to cultivate a future generation of record buyers; “hooking them while they’re young,” so to speak. Major labels notoriously blew it in the ‘90s by killing the single as a format and outrageously overpricing CDs, which of course lead to the downloading revolution and the crippling of an industry. Now that they’ve been given a chance to redeem themselves with the resurgence of interest in vinyl, not only are they shooting themselves in the foot, but it’s the same foot, the same gun, and they’re even reusing the bullet!

Any record label right now could learn a valuable lesson from the hardcore punk elder statesmen at SST, Dischord, BYO, Revelation, etc.: these labels stick to the $7-$8 wholesale price on their full lengths and as a result, retailers like me are able to make our mark up while keeping the records at a reasonable price. Customer, retailer, distributor and label all work together harmoniously, and more important than the miniscule profit being made off each unit, everyone’s doing their part to spread their love of music on to someone else. Not only is this an ethical and sustainable model, but if you participate, you might just have some fun yourself.

Colin Tappe is the owner of Standards Record Store in Vista, CA






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76 Comments


  1. Mark Deming

    Good article overall, but Kirk Douglas didn’t teach us anything in the movie WALL STREET. His son Michael Douglas was the one who starred in that picture.


  2. Great article!!!…..I would like to give my customers a better price on New titles. The margin is minimal at best and wish the big record companies would stop gouging the public. It’s no way good business to overcharge the public for such a viable need. Music is life. Life is music..


  3. The vinyl is dead. The greedy land owners are causing the overhead to kill record stores, The generation now doesn’t care about the physical media, The stores say records are making a come back, of course who wants to beleive their livelyhood is dieing? 2005 or so was the peak for hi prices, slid down from there. Yes internet killed the music star. Sorry I love vinyl but cleared out 9 k in titles years ago, anyone want the names of friends with 250k and 30k in titles holding the bag?? VIDEO STORES ANYONE. The internet flooded the market with used product and the post office, fleabay and paypal greedily dug into any further interest from a new generation of collectors. Why wait 2 weeks when you can click a mouse and have it in 2 minutes??? Sorry to paint the sad truth and reality, but your article is about 8 years behind the times, just ask any record store owner. Russ


    • Jeroen

      Sorry but that made little to no sense at all. Why would we want names of your friends? Are you asking for video stories or does it remind you of them? Internet killed music stars? Very confused by the nonsense you spout :D


    • dougsbeard

      i…i am so confused by this comment. i dont even know where it begins and where it ends.


    • Hey Russ,

      I recently went back into business during my dotage and retirement for just such a reason To have fun, I lament fleabay, amazulu et al as there is no fun, nor creativity in their business models. But, I sell most of my vinyl for $1….damn nice getting a Horslips used for a buck instead of a reissue or import CD at $30 retail. I do carry the new vinyl but try to stay under the $10 costs ones. I also do not live for new releases, basically ignoring them as that’s where the greed from the companies always comes out, ooh boy an Adele record at $35, Stones concert tickets at $100 bucks. Get real buyers, lots of goodies in the dollar bin and remember if you haven’t heard it, Every Record Is a New Release, so look what a dollar can buy. And those teens will eventually learn that what they point and click for will not even sell for 25cents in meat space.


    • Brad

      I’m a record store owner – and you have NO idea what you’re talking about. Vinyl is dead? Sorry, but vinyl is the only music format on the rise – try more than 60% every year for the last three years (it’s been on the rise since 2005). I’d say that my average customer is in their early 20s to mid 30s – kids are bored with downloads and they’re buying vinyl! You might want to do a little research into what’s going on in the world of music retail – try putting your mouse down and getting offf yout ass and into a real record store.


      • Oli

        I can support this fact, I (21) and alot of people I know basically in the age group stated have a growing record collection, I do currently live for new releases but Im pay £12 for the current bands I love right now. I want to support the bands I like and even with second hand records support the industry in some way, but with the simplicity of downloading everything, for free, buying music digitally makes you wonder what you spent your money on.


        • Wallace

          I agree with you Oli, I started getting into Vinyl after 2012. I track my spending online, and in 2012 I spent over $200 on digital music between amazon, itunes, etc. I looked at my digital “Collection” and as you said I took a long hard look at what I was actually spending money on.
          I bought my first Vinyl this summer before I even got a record player because I liked the art and it came with a digital copy of the album. So I thought “Why spend $11 on the download only, when $7 more gets me this cool big artwork.” I found an old turntable at my local thrift store, supped it up with a new amp,needle, and speakers…and I have not looked back. I will never buy a digital download again. Just makes no sense to me, I’m 22 btw.


      • Daniel

        I wouldn’t say that people are bored with downloads, I think it’s more that they’re starting to realise that they’re paying full price for a deliberately degraded product, ie MP3.

        It’s quite possible that ridiculous loudness of digital formats are also having an impact as well.


    • Smilin Tyler

      Yes, I very much would like the names of your friends. I sell used vinyl and my tiny town supports four (4) stores, three (3) of which also sell new.


    • Don D

      russ,
      well said. the truth hurts.
      the price of cd’s didn’t lead to the downloading revolution technological advancement did.
      it will swing back around. compilations of rare titles whose copyrights are long gone will begin turning up digitally. the cache behind vinyl will be lost when you have to replace that $30 plate 8 times because your A/C died and warped it, little siblings tried to backmask with it or you just plain played the hell out of it. . . i love records but been there done that. i can enjoy my digital version just as much. and if i must have that crack or pop then i can just digitize it. the adjectives used to describe the superior quality of vinyl are suspect as well but that’s another thing…


      • Zoran

        ….and yet you post this on a site called “Record Collector” and stick in the phrase “I love records”, seemingly just to cover your ass. You seem very keen indeed on being approved of by the very people you are calling idiots. And by the way, the adjectives used to describe a woman’s body are often “suspect”, too – I take it you prefer to writhe on top of a pile of beanie babies and not have to feel like you’re getting ripped off?


        • Don D

          you misunderstand me. i do love records and i have no need for approval from anyone here. i just don’t think vinyl records are in any way superior to any other format. i do like some of the qualities analog playback brings, almost all are some sort of distortion though. the stayting power of even a pampered platter is nothing compared to some other formats too. which is not to say that anything is forever. i never said anyone was an idiot. take care.


    • morgan

      Well, here in just one corner of north eastern Los Angeles there must be 8-10 vinyl only stores within about 15 minutes from one another and four of those are within a 5 minute drive of each other in Highland Park/Eagle Rock. Many of these are new and doing well. It’s a great time to be into vinyl.


    • Star One

      The statement “The generation now doesn’t care about the physical media”, how could you know that if your not part of it? I think it would be hard to really measure that, especially generation-wide. At least in my demographic, the current “youth” are the largest volume and have the most interest in something psychical. Paypal insist digging into my pockets either.

      The digital thing. I WILL download, illegally. I refuse to pay money for something digital. Does not exist. Only a fool would buy an invisible car. So spending to own, for sure. Having 300GB of mp3s is lonely, compared to actually seeing what I have.

      I think it’s dope you were able to come out and speak what you feel is right, weather I agree or disagree with you.

      I love articles like this, always gets some ill comments going afterwords to read into!


    • I ABSOLUTELY DISAGREE WITH YOU. I HAVE HAD A RECORD STORE SINCE EARLY 70,S.
      FROM 1986 THROUGH 2007 WE WERE SELLING LITTLE VINYL. NOW WE SELL MORE VINYL THAN CD,S, AND DVD,S PUT TOGETHER.
      WE HAVEN’T HAD PEOPLE BUYING 2 3 AND $400,00 WORTH OF RECORDS IN ONE HIT FOR A LONG TIME. LOTS OF KIDS ARE SICK OF THE COMPUTER GENERATED WORLD OF MUSIC WE LIVE IN, THEY THINK VERY MUCH LIKE THE EARTHY YOUTH OF THE 60,S.
      AND THEY, THROUGH RECORDS ARE DISCOVERING A PASSION THAT NEVER EXISTED BEFORE.
      I THINK COLIN AND I BOTH UNDERSTAND THAT THE SAVIOUR OF THE WHOLE RECORD INDUSTRY ARE THOSE LOYAL CRUSTY RECORD STORE OWNERS THAT REFUSED TO GO AWAY AND EXISTED THROUGH THE 80,S TO 2007 PURELY ON DEDICATION AND PASSION AND THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THERE WAS FAR TOO MUCH HISTORY IN VINYL FOR IT TO SIMPLY FADE AWAY.
      RICHARD (THE RECORD EXCHANGE BRISBANE AUSTRALIA)


  4. Tom Dudek

    Well stated article, I ran a record store in NJ for about 20 years and your job description is very true. Quite a few years ago the major labels ceased taking any returns on vinyl, all purchases were one way, you bought it you owned it. To me that is another reason why vinyl prices should be lower, sold to the public or not the item isn’t coming back. On a major release, like Bruce Springsteen, the labels pre-book so they know how many to press up, no need for much warehouse that costs dollars. You already stated the problem, the issue…record company greed.


  5. [...] Tappe, the owner of Standards Record Store in Vista, CA wrote an article for RecordCollectorNews.com about the rising wholesale prices for catalog releases re-issued on [...]


  6. There are tons of great re-issue labels these days who are managing to put out killer releases for way under $30. Hopefully the labels charging $30 or more will come to their senses.


  7. Sean

    What about offering discounts for good grades each semester for students all the through college? That way the labels are hooking them while they’re young and the student buyers feel a sense of worth and appreciation for their good grades, encouraging better grades and future patronship.


  8. Billy

    Have the majors EVER, EVER, made a smart, long term decision about anything? When they hit the fork in the road of [do we want to sell 10 million Britney Spears units for 5-6 years] // [or sell, say, Pixies albums FOREVER...they chose the former] Hit me baby one more time.


  9. [...] Major labels notoriously blew it in the ‘90s by killing the single as a format and outrageously ov… [...]


  10. I have been discussing the exact same thing with my friends in London, and here is Brisbane I experience the same thing. Often I have to shop online as the cost locally is prohibitive. But why spend my Australian dollars abroad, I should be spending it here?

    The new Depeche Mode LP is $40 on vinyl, $20 on cd. The fact the vinyl comes with a download is not a $20 question. Just as vinyl is taking a grip on the market place the record companies are making it harder for it as a format. Again.

    I think you’re spot on, Colin.


  11. they want to make money and not share, transmit, a musical culture …
    but some shop with their second hand vinyl have also totally crazy prices …

    The memory of music is on Vinyl, nowhere else!
    Save Music Culture, Buy Vinyl, Play it, Make it,
    Love it, Transmit them, Talk about them …


  12. Matt

    Well said. I understand that limited runs and the higher cost of the vinyl and energy has some effect. However, I see domestic singles for as much as $13!!! How did the cost of a single more than double in just a few years?? Needless to say, despite my increased income overtime and my serious addiction to records, my buying has slowed tremendously. ;(


  13. Good article, Colin. I know that I would buy more new vinyl if it was back to the $10-15 range. The heafty tag just makes me skip over the New bin at record stores. Although, I still have picked up some new bands & reissues, but you can be damn sure I am completely, already sold on the purchase (i.e. McCartney’s “Ram” reissue, The Decemberists & Gotye). Gawd, I love vinyl! BTW, I did a documentary on Record Store Day 2013, if you’re interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAJ2c5G8D2w


    • rcnadmin

      Hey Dude – nice documentary!
      -Jim Kaplan
      Record Collector News


    • Noize

      Does your article mention the fuckups regarding getting all the releases out.. and other non RSD releases. Im still waiting for Dethscalator – Racial Golf Course No Bitches which was due out on RSD. It’s a shame it was a great idea, i even accidently attended one whilst in Tilburg whilst at Roadburn, but i think theres a few label owners that were really disappointed.


      • rcnadmin

        I’m pretty sure most vinyl pressing plants have waiting lists at this point so there are bound to be lots of scheduling disasters.


  14. Funny thing is: record buyers won’t buy new records for a low price (14 euro). We did that for a while with our new releases, just so that younger people could get them as well. And that was on high quality vinyl with good gatefold sleeves. We still have some of the stock on those cheap titles. People think cheap is the same as bad. The last few records we released we priced at 20 and 22 euro (they were more expensive to make) and these are selling really well. Way better that the cheap ones. So don’t put the blame solely on record labels, buyers have a choice to buy or not to. And they buy the higher priced. Buying records is also an ‘investment’ nowadays. Not only a way to get good music into your house.


    • Don D

      just further proof people who buy vinyl records (generally) haven’t got a clue. not trying to incite flames here but what else does that prove?


  15. [...] More via The cost of collecting vinyl has risen to a degree that borders on greed | RECORD COLLECTOR NEWS. [...]


  16. Agreed, most large record companies are exploiting fans. However, there are always alternatives. I run Mega Dodo. We put out limited edition vinyl at reasonable prices. We do it because we love what we do, not for the money. In fact, we probably loose money on each release. And you know what? We don’t care. So, if you’d like to support a struggling record label visit us here http://www.mega-dodo.co.uk/ You might also like http://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com/index.html


  17. [...] the rest of Colin Tappe’s story here. Seems like some people will enver learn, file that under industry rul number [...]


  18. AMEN! Preach on brother, spot on


  19. santa_dog

    POST A TRADELIST


  20. jam

    just curious: who, exactly, makes the money on a $30 album? there appear to be four parties involved: artist, label, distributor and retailer. one of those four has to be making money, right?


    • vinylville records

      Wholesale used to be pocket change per item, back in the 60s & 70s.

      The wholesale distributors are making far more % than they used to.
      It all goes upstream, not downstream.

      They trickle up, not down.

      Mom & pop store owners have a FAR harder time these days surviving.
      Try to remember that, as a consumer. Shop local. It matters.

      Or you could shop at a big box store. The big ones even have lobby groups.
      You can choose to support the yuppie world, or not. Your call.


  21. kids are into Rush because of Coheed and Cambria, they brought that whole style back to popularity.


  22. I managed record stores for 10 years and have been a collector for 20. It’s safe to say that I spend all my extra money on albums – or, i used to. I buy vinyl, like so many others. Am I wrong to say that it’s become unaffordable unless you’re either wealthy or just bad with money? I was spending $13-$18 on new LPs for years, buying at least a title a week, if not several per week. Now when I go into the stores to buy a new release title, everything is marked at $22-$30. Sometimes much more (what was that new MBV? $50?!) The new Devendra Banhart and Flaming Lips LPs were $36 apiece. I’ve purchased everything those two artists have released until now – I won’t do it. I won’t be made a fool of. Yeah, I really want those albums but, on principle, I can’t buy them. I won’t pay that. The milking of music buyers is an age old story. The fools at the top, thinking they know what they’re doing – thinking they’re getting what they can while they can. I’ve personally had it. I’m not paying for music anymore unless the price is reasonable. There are certain labels (Dead Oceans, Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar) who are keeping their prices fair, but most of the others are just chasing buyers away – getting what they can while they can with no regard for the future. It’s no wonder so many people download illegally. Breaks my heart, because there’s nothing I’d rather use my spending money on than a new stack of records. But damn … I’d rather listen to old records than leave the store feeling like a fool.


  23. santi d.

    Nobodys buys expensive records and dont forget mail shipping costs, vin7l sales via post mail is really expensive.


  24. I posted this on RSD at various places. Posting it here because I want to…

    Why Record Store Day is a sham.

    I believe that Record Store Day started out as a way to promote and encourage visits to independent record stores, but I think it has become something less. It’s is now a way for labels to release limited addition records at exhorbitant prices to sucker record buyers into paying too much for a over-hyped piece of colored vinyl that often contains material that is available elsewhere. $22 for an album? $12 for a 7″. Ridiculous. To be fair, I saw some records that were priced reasonable. The Built to Spill double album was $22, but it was a double album. And the CD of that same album was going for $13. I saw a handful of 7″s for 5-6 bucks.

    Record store day should be about celebrating the indie record store, not lining the pockets of the labels with their artificial limited releases. With that in mind, here’s what I’d like to see.

    Go ahead and continue to make limited releases for Record Store Day, but price them at normal prices or (GASP), even less than normal prices. Make them the “loss leader” for that day to get people in the door. Then, scoring that piece of vinyl will really feel like grabbing a treasure, and you won’t feel like you’ve been ripped off just because it is Record Store Day.

    I know that the argument is that they’ll just hit ebay at a higher price, but I honestly don’t have a problem with the secondary sale market setting prices based on real demand. That’s just like the used record trade. I don’t have a problem with folks selling the first Smashing Pumpkin’s 7″ for big bucks (I did it myself). Those releases are often rare just because the band only pressed as many copies as they could sell, not because they artificially pressed a record for a “special” day in April.

    The beauty and spirit of indie record stores is the fun of the hunt. And that hunt is digging through the crates until you stumble upon that 7″ or album that you’ve been looking for for years, with a price tag that feels like you’re getting a real deal. Standing in line and waiting to rush to the special “Record Store Day” bins to grab the limited release that you’ve been pre-sold by the RSD hype is NOT the beauty or spirit of the record store. It’s crap.

    I still support indie record stores, and I still might buy a special Record Store Day release, if I really want the music or the packaging, but I go into it realizing I’m going to be ripped off, and that the experience, on the whole, will be more like trying to buy the new Beanie Baby or Tickle Me Elmo and not about spending the day digging for treasures.

    Mark Hanford
    2013


    • thrillcat

      This. Squared. Great post.


    • Excellent comment. I’ve been buying vinyl and patronizing independent record stores for years. However I haven’t participated in a single Record Store Day. Although a big part of the reason is because I just want to browse without having to worry about a crowd around me. Your post shows me that there’s more to it than that, and I’m not missing out on much!


  25. Noise not music

    Just another young kid here. I got into vinyl around 2006 sometime. My friends had a box of records they inherited from family members, and they sometimes would go to shops in town and check out used records. I started noticing that they were $5-10 usually compared to $15-20 prices on CD’s and grabbed a few. I found out that same day my parents turntable was in disrepair and while still in high school my money was low so i only bought a couple records from 2006-2008 while going through junk turntables that lasted a couple weeks or whose belt drives were worn out. In 2008 with some money and for my 18th birthday, my folks went halves and ibought abrand new turntable, a low end model for about 80 bucks, but 5 years later and despite using for between 3-12 hours some days still sounds just fine. Also in 2008 i got really into punk and hardcore, which most titles are vinyl releases only on 7” 45′s and 12” mini lps so i was sold on the format.

    5 years and thousands of records later its my main format. But i noticed those old iron maiden and metallica albums in the $5 bin are no longer there. To buy the missing iron maiden LPs costs me $15-30 for used copies. New reissues come out for up to $40 as well!

    The indie community and more mainstream releases and reissues no doubt are coming out in very high starting price ranges. In the metal scene this is becoming a problem as well. a new release or reissue starts at 20 bucks and the bigger the band or more DELUXE the packaging the release or reissue has its often $25-30 in addition to any shipping if you have to mailorder, If you have a record store that specializes in heavy metal you’re likely paying the shiping cost so that $25 record is $30 in the store, and that $30 record is $35 anyway.

    Used vinyl is pretty much obsolete in the metal scene. Records that were everywhere for $5 or less are now $10-20 a piece depending on the band and title. Records $10-15 are now $25-30. The few $20-25 albums are now $40-50, if not sky high rarities now. Then the inevitable reissue comes out, and instead of being a simple record for $15 it was given some etched D-side, pressed at 45 RPM, or a single LP picture disc with a gatefold jacket (for a picture disc?) and some records are made into household art exhibits rather than playing all with the $25 price tag to match, so now finding a $15 record is a steal, and the dollar bin or five dollar yard sale records are a lot more fun, while every week i have to decide which album will last my interest longer. Even 45RPM 7” records were once $4, sometimes even 3 bucks. Now $5 is the bare minimum anywhere, with most ranging $7-10 a piece.

    The punk scene seems to be keeping it real, Aside from 7” records being usually $5 or sometimes $6-7 for imports, the average LP ranges from $10-12 each. Its nice that i like this music because its still very cheap and affordable and punk music has a myriad of great bands. The only real expensive stuff is the really hyped sold out records and labels producing them, and the more obscure 77-84 rarities and some old foreign hardcore records that never got reissued, or classic bands who don’t have reissues (SS Decontrol, Judge, i think Youth of Today might be this way, probably a few 90′s bands that were huge) are the only things you would be paying the same prices as metal or indie rock records on, or a collectors price on top of.

    I guess profitability is the reason why metal labels and bands are selling their stuff for top dollar, and why indie and major label releases are $30-40 for their reissues and releases, but most records start at about $4 a piece to manufacture (add on costs for things like 180g or heavyweight, gatefold jackets, inserts, and other costs) why its even impossible to find a 300% profited markup $16 record anymore. Also why is all these extras added? I want a record, in a jacket, maybe a lyric sheet, and the tracklisting printed on the back. The extra stuff to me is nonsense, and the download cards get thrown in the trash with the poly bag i bought it in. Why do i need an mp3 copy when i have a copy that i can put on my stereo? Unless you use an ipod in your car a lot, i feel its a cop out so the people can have a mantlepiece to sit on their wall or some book shelf that they’ve never actually listened to on a stereo. And people go on about how vinyl just sounds so much better and that’s why they’re buying it.


  26. Colin, you’re bang on the money…I’m a wizened bastard of 48, and I remember that LPs peaked at $8.98 right at the end of the classic vinyl era (ca. 1948-1988). Then here came the CDs (digital sux) which eventually shot up to about $18 per…what a joke. Reissues now (at places like FYE and Hot Topic) are pretty steep, yet it’s true: you CAN still find tons o’ gems without having to go much further than Goodwill!

    Dave


  27. A

    I also own a record store and while I agree with the premise of Colin’s article (a plea to record labels to keep the cost of vinyl down so the resurgence can grow bigger legs and preserve the physical format of music), there are a few points that need to be made here.

    First, Smiths reissues ARE NOT $30. If someone tries to sell you a Smiths reissue for $30, don’t buy it. They’re supposed to be $24.98 and that money buys you a 180 gram virgin pressing of the UK edition of the album – not bad at all. I’ve seen used Smiths records sell time and time again for nearly the same cost. As Colin points out, there are many different types of record shoppers out there. Many would prefer to pay $20 for a first pressing that’s been well-cared for, but played countless numbers of times nonetheless. Chances are the person will take it home, play it and then file it away and only pull it out only to impress certain company, which is fine because that’s part of being a record collector. Other people would prefer to buy a completely clean, virgin, 180 gram edition for nearly the same cost, take it home and play the shit out it. Others will have both the originals and the reissues for obvious reasons – play the reissue and safely store the original. All of the above is fine. We’re all different and we all want different things from our record collections.

    Colin specifically points to Rhino reissues. Of course Rhino LPs are more expensive . . . . . Warner Bros? I mean, the new Flaming Lips record is $35. That’s just what we come to expect from Warner Bros and yes, they should be ashamed of themselves. Part of what drives up their cost is their borderline stupid warehouse practices. When you order from Warner, they offer free shipping, which is great, but they ship 30 titles in multiple boxes – most arriving on different days? When you order directly from indie labels (or other distributors) they ship 30 titles comfortably packed into one box. Warner senselessly overpays to ship out its product – borderline stupid, like I said. There are, however, many labels that reissue back catalogs for anywhere from $15 – $20 and I really don’t see the problem there.

    Colin mentions punk labels like SST and Dischord as good examples of labels that keep their wholesale cost down and they are. Other great examples include Fat Possum, Sub Pop, Kill Rock Stars, Bloodshot, Polyvinyl, Castleface, In The Red, Yep-Roc and so forth and so on a million times over. My point is that punk rock labels aren’t the only saviors within the record industry.

    There have been comments made above that are just unfounded and wrong. For example, one comment above mentions indie label releases selling for $30-$40 dollars. Sure, every once in a while, but for the most part? Come on. Most indie labels keep the majority of their titles at $15-$20 and include the ever-handy download so you can have the album on the go. And all that stuff about Record Store Day? Sure, RSD stuff can be pricey, but most titles are intended to be about the average cost of a new LP, with many exceptions I will admit, but those exceptions usually involves titles that are pressed in the hundreds. I’ve heard of stores jacking up the RSD titles like crazy and so has RSD, which is why they make store owners sign a pledge. The thing about RSD is that it has pushed so much public awareness to record stores everywhere, and as a lover of record stores, I just can’t find much fault in that.

    While I wholeheartedly agree with the need to keep the cost of new vinyl down despite its source being an industry of greed, I do not think that it applies to all labels and articles like this that generalize the entire industry by the BIG bad apples within it are doing record stores (or the future of vinyl) any favors. If the industry has its way, there will be no physical format of music. Think about it. For decades they have been trying to decrease the production cost of how music reaches the public format by format. Remember those flimsy records from the 70′s and 80′s? They all came with a little leaflet inside how much better the record will sound now that the vinyl is thinner. Oh, and it will fit into your collection easier as well? Bullshit. Records, tapes, CDs . . . whatever. Their motto is to cut down on quality and keep the retail price the same. They won’t be happy until the product is nothing but 1′s and 0′s and the cost to download the album is the same as it would have cost to own the physical copy. Remember, Rhino is owned by Warner and they by no means represent the entire industry.


  28. morgan

    I am willing to pay a little when a download or cd is included (like on the new My Bloody Valentine release), but generally I buy smaller label stuff and even that can float anywhere from 15-25, with the average just <$20 here in LA. I did find the rerelease of Ornette Coleman's 2nd and 3rd records for about $13 a piece new, which I thought was a good deal.

    I would pose the question what do younger people listen to on vinyl? Where I live they aren't hunting down expensive 180g reissues from Blue Note or wherever. They're buying mostly popular indie rock stuff. We have a ton of vinyl only stores in LA but most of the who are more new than used are heavily skewed towards indie type stuff or electronic music. I don't see a ton of mainstream big label records going out the door. But then that's just my perception, I don't work there.


  29. Joe Grizzly

    It’s almost laughable. Look at what happened to that label Every Mistake Imaginable. And now comes word that Best Buy is cutting back on the number of titles they carry. The big labels kissed their asses with low prices, “exclusives”, and unlimited “co-op” dollars that drove many indie and chain record stores out of business. Ditto Wal Mart. And now Best Buy says “FU” by biting the hand that fed it. Apparently there are still plenty of over-paid label executives that STILL don’t get it (none of whom actually buy records). Now the labels get a chance for a do over courtesy of vinyl and what happens? They to repeat the same mistakes over again, hoping for a different result. This is progress?


  30. Lucas Cross

    I agree with every word you wrote. What can we do I’m in if you figure it out. Greed is a mother*#*#er. I been wanting to check out the new sound garden but I’m not going to pay 34.99 for it. I’m blessed though the little town I live in texas has a used record store that is owned by a very ungreedy man with tonnage and I mean tonnage so I’ll keep buying my oldies from him for $5.00 dollars. He’s got good stuff I can’t tell you how many 70s albums I found there for $5 dollars that Hastings is trying to sell for 34.99 on some light weight bs vinyl reissue. But they got me by the balls when I want some red hot chili peppers or smashing pumkins or anything 90s to present. Like you said shooting their own foot. I could understand 2 or 3 dollars more for vinyl as opposed to the cd but 10 to 15 dollars more they can suck my d#*# and kiss my ass..


  31. Arcum

    You know what’s bugging me the most – that everyone is claiming their LP should cost more because it’s *limited edition* – ofcourse it’s limited edition nitwits the golden age of vinyl is long overdue so you print less vinyl… that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to charge me 28€ for your very first album – you know what I see when you ask 28€ for a record – you’re a moneygrabbing son of b…. Also explain me this; new cd = 18€ / vs / new vinyl + cd (no hardcover) + mp3 download = 20€ /// seriously – w.t.f.

    glad to see that this is only happening to mainstream music, also – I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said…


  32. Excellent article, Colin — As a record store owner for the past 45 years plus an additional 5 on the label end (I started at Capitol in 1962) I have spent a half century befuddled at the shortsightedness of the pricing gurus in my beloved industry, but I’ve also come to the conclusion that I’ll never live long enough to experience a learning curve. I think all we can hope to do is encourage our customers to be patient, keep searching for those coveted used titles in good condition and attempt to keep the fun alive.


  33. [...] The cost of collecting vinyl has risen to a degree that borders on greed | RECORD COLLECTOR NEWS Met citaat reageren [...]


  34. Mike

    Its lovely to see you give praise to punk and hardcore and mention how their labels induce such a successful platform for the record industry. Integrity and doing it for the love of a music scene. That will always keep records spinning.


  35. You’re so right!!!!
    I’m a record shop owner too and i know exactly what you mean…
    greed has been in this business for decades, and in some cases has been it’s motor….
    but this is suicidal and stupid….
    they never learn, indeed
    keep on rockin’ in the pseudo-free world!
    Jorge Dias


  36. muse342

    Well. All I know is that like 8-10 years ago, when I was looking to buy out of print records on the internet auction, people were bidding hundreds of dollars. Where were the reissues ? The record labels didn’t care, I guess they had too much money. Now that the economy is bad, you have all these vinyl albums reissued. But where were they when they when I wanted to buy a record for $20 and there were none. Now, they’re floding the market with reissued records when people have no money. Wrong timing.


  37. DrJay

    I hope record labels get their act together. I was starting to collect new vinyl when the prices were around $15 per LP but I quickly stopped when average prices (very) suddenly exceeded $20-25. Instead of me dropping $50 a month on records, I now spend nothing and the record companies make nothing off of me. Great business model!


  38. I own an indie reissue label. I can tell you the reason why my vinyl is relatively expensive (but in my defense I have had to drop my prices, not out of sympathy for the kids but for my survival). First of all, when you consider the ridiculous manufacturing costs (add much more if doing gatefold covers or thicker, colored vinyl, etc.), what you have to also remember is the pre-production costs as well. In my case, it’s tape transfer, mixing, mastering, etc. Then, consider the cost of shipping 600 pounds (at minimum), and the cost of promotion and advertising. It’s a no win situation unless you are selling thousands of units and in this day and age the only one doing that is Jack White. OK, so for Indie label to be able to simply survive, they need some modest support, people need to buy the records and tell their friends about it. Do they? Hardly. The apathy is not attached so much to the price tag but to the fact that everyone is more addicted to their iPhones. I went to the Houston Rodeo last year and stood in a line for 30 minutes to buy a crappy hamburger and two sprites at $30.00. I promptly crapped it all out the next morning. I could have bought the amazing Heyoka double album reissue (Texas hard rock/prog 1977) on colored vinyl, gatefold cover w/poster for the same money and enjoy it for the rest of my life. Where is the money better spent in this example? Yet people blow their money on useless garbage time and again and still want to complain about my records being expensive? Trust me I make NOTHING unless and until I sell out of the pressing, and then I make just enough to make another record. I haven’t made a profit since 1996.


  39. I have just started a small independent label pressing small runs(300-500) for promising (IMO)local bands. Just released my first record, and am starting to work on plans for a second. Any band I will work with understands they are not going to make money, and I am not going to make money, I have a day job. Anything over break even goes to promotion, shipping, and trying to get the music heard and reviewed in the hope that some day it will lead to success beyond what I would ever be able to support. If I think something is really special I just want to help give it a shot. LP price is 12, shipped 15. Damn is it alot of work, but so worth it.


  40. Another shop owner here. Within the last several weeks SST raised all of their LP wholesale prices by over 50% (from $8.50 to $14.50). Now we have to sell their records for $20, which sucks. I would love to hear their explanation/justification for this. Are they just trying to drive traffic to their own online site? Either way, they do not deserve the props given to them in this article.


  41. [...] means record companies can charge $30 or $40 a pop on a new vinyl, and people will pay – for now anyway. For the seasoned collector, and the new vinyl fans wanting to avoid high prices, long lines and [...]


  42. Jeffrey Bowers

    This article is actually way off base.It’s impossible to discuss “greed” or cash grabs at the record labels as they clamor to chase the latest trend, without analysing each component of the product and what it takes financially to bring it to market. Even starting with just the basics, such as what are the margins for the labels? What are the margins for the stores? From what I know, stores have the higher profit margins. How much does it cost to really make a record ? I’m not talking about how much it costs to press a record at your local plant, I am referring to the total costs of goods. Does the author know exactly how much it costs to remaster a record, to reproduce the artwork,to press the record, to print in many cases specialty jackets ? Does the author know what the the mechanical royalty rates are for each artist ? Why doesn’t the author let us know what the average wholesale is for a $30 suggested list price? Is it about $20 or $19 ? I doubt very seriously that the average profit margin for any label is in that range of 30 to 35%. I have looked at hundreds of profit and loss statements for vinyl and have worked on hundreds of reissues, I have never seen anything nearing greed or a cash grab. In fact, many times the cost of goods is higher than the market will bare and the reissues don’t come out at all.


    • Fab

      +1

      Be honest to your customers and tell them that you easilly make 30% of the final price. YOUR cut is the biggest of the whole distribution chain ! The record label on the other hand by far the biggest amount of work, risk and the smallest cut.

      Why don’t you tell your customers that the price could be 30% if labels and customers could avoid your business.

      In any way, the relevance of all these middle men’s is shrinking substantially.

      This is the pressure you are feeling. Customers slowly realize how bloated the chain is. They see no reason why they music purchase should finance a half dozen pretty pointless middle-mens. The adaqapt, and you should, too. Realize that this isn’t a chicken egg problem. It’s a parasite problem.

      Most modern labels already run they own web-shops and stay closely in contact to their customers. No need for all these expensive middle-mens. Very often, you’ll find MUCH better offers by directly visiting these websites.


  43. Shawn

    Fab-

    I think a world without real record stores would be a sad place indeed.


  44. GREEDY JERKS ARE HEAR AGAIN !


  45. Andy M

    i just started record collecting and yeah the price of wax has been going out steadily but the most painful part of being a musician in putting up our record on vinyl,

    its ridiculously expensive compare to CD. at material cost level a record will cost my band between usd$10-15. thats not include recording, mastering or even shipping the vinyl from the pressing plants to us.

    our latest album are highly positively reviewed got much slower CD sales compare to previous release but thousands of torrents links for our releases. so the only way forward for us small bands is to release vinyls with a few extra content.

    prices are going up, but looking at the supply chain…it needs to go up. or else small bands like us dun get to press our music into vinyls.


  46. toni

    It’s Michael Douglas in Wall Street!
    Kirk is his father… ;-)


  47. Dan

    I agree with the frustration with the rise in the price of vinyls, especially the reissues. I’m 28, I started collecting vinyl when I was 24 and started again recently when i realised I could actually afford it.
    One change I’ve noticed since 2010 is the massive price surge of vinyl, in 2010 and bought 6 Depeche Mode 180g 2007 vinyl reissues for £14.99 each from HMV, this year the vinyls got reissued again and they are now listed on amazing between £22 – £31, which I refuse to pay. This week I was in 2 minds whether to spend £20 on Kate Bush’s Sensual World reissue, after checking to item again today the price has gone up to £28, again, I refuse to pay this!
    Last month I allowed myself to spend £28 on Nine Inch Nail’s Downward Spiral because I love this album, the vinyl was faulty on side 2 so I exchanged it for another copy and it had the same problem… bad batch maybe? Anyway, I got a refund, and now the item is listed on Amazon for £35… Tears for Fears reissues are over £30, what the hell is going on!? This is far too expensive! Fair enough if the vinyl is rare and out of print, but these are new reissues!
    As much as I love buying, listening, holding and looking at vinyl there is a line and only so much bull shit I can tolerate.


  48. Will

    Actually, at my local record store, prices are still cheap. Just yesterday I paid $4 for Van Halen’s “Jump (used),” $2 for Pete Townshend’s “My Love Will Open The Door (used),” $12 for REM’s album “Murmur (used),” and only $17 for Vampire Weekends new album, “Modern Vampires of The City (New)”


  49. Jim

    Why would anyone pay for music that is not on vinyl? It can be downloaded in seconds from piratebay and other torrent holders. I can still pick up good vinyl at a garage sale for 25 cents an album. MP3 and CD music is something I would not pay a penny for. Well I did pick up a few CDs at a divorce sale for .25 an album, It costs me that for a blank CD. Old 80s back vinyl is worth finding a buy on at garage sales and flea markets. But to pay for new music on Vinyl Screw the industry. These idiots do not need any more of my money ever again.


  50. Disco

    Somebody made a comment about RSD, and how it’s OK if those releases wind up on eBay because the record(s) will go for the price someone is willing to pay.

    Except that’s never how it works. I wanted the Thievery Corporation clear vinyl from RSD 2012. It was the only one I wanted. For some reason, it was available only in Europe. That release promptly went on eBay as a BUY IT NOW (NEVER an auction) for at least double the sticker price, whether it sells or not.



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