Vinyl Record Collecting Alive and Well
By Robert Benson
According to a recent report from eBay, the online auction giant, they sell more than three million vinyl records each year. It is also reported that eBay users buy and sell six vinyl records every minute (or an average of one every ten seconds). It seems the vinyl record, just a few years ago an afterthought as an audio format, is alive and well. So what is all the fuss about?
First and foremost, if you ask any record collector, it is the sound quality they love the most about vinyl. The music isn’t compressed into ones and zeros or “binary sound.” Then of course, there is the element of “collectibility,” people may buy vinyl as an investment, in hope that, over time, the records will appreciate in value.
Furthermore, people collect vinyl because they may want a piece of their past, so nostalgia is also an important element for the record collector. People are also drawn to actually owning a physical product and may enjoy the ritual that is involved in listening to the records. And a new generation has discovered the special allure that vinyl records have, the limited editions, colored vinyl, picture discs, “audiophile” records (a 180-220 gram), the album cover artwork and the sound have all lured youngsters in the hobby of collecting vinyl records.
But, there are more reasons people collect vinyl. Besides the aforementioned elements, it is also big business. The old vinyl records on the auction sites, as well as the hundreds of other vinyl related web sites, are not selling their collectible vinyl for rummage sale prices. In fact, at any given moment, there may be more than six thousand collectible Beatles’ albums for sale on eBay. Some have sold for thousands of dollars and it is reported that the album that is bought and sold the most in vinyl format is the Beatles’ “White Album.” But it is not only the Beatles that sell well and are highly collectible. Artists such as the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, James Brown, Madonna, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Elvis Presley and even newer artists like Nirvana, Radiohead and many more are all highly sought after. There is also a keen interest in “Northern Soul,” Motown records, old blues recordings as well as jazz, punk and indie vinyl records.
Furthermore, recording artists themselves are reported to own vast and eclectic record collections. Just as creating music is their passion, finding rare and collectible vinyl is sometimes just as important. It is reported that John Lennon was an avid collector of all the Beatles’ bootlegs he could find. Peter Buck, of the rock band R.E.M. is an avid collector as well and there is a long list of musicians who get the same thrill as all collectors get when they find a specific vinyl record at an estate sale that may have eluded them for years.
However, it is not just the garage sales, rummage sales, estate sales, record conventions that carry collectible vinyl. The online community has responded as well, and besides the auction sites, there are literally hundreds of web sites that sell vinyl exclusively, in any musical genre that a person may have an interest in.
People also collect vinyl for the album cover art or the 45-rpm record sleeve and some may be more valuable than the vinyl record that they hold. There are many businesses that frame these marvelous pieces of art and audio history for display and preservation.
So just as there has been a resurgence in the sale and visibility of vinyl records, along with this is an increase in the hobby of vinyl record collecting and album cover art. This hobby is as old as the format itself, and a wonderful hobby that will continue to thrill its participants for decades to come.