Monday, May 11, 2009

Used Vinyl Moving Well

I love articles about the resurgence of the beloved vinyl record. Here's another one, this one from our friends in Vermont:

Music shops selling used albums strong

By CHRIS GAROFOLO, Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO -- The faltering economy has caused several major industries to suffer on a national scale, but there's at least one on the local level that has not felt the effects of the recession.

Local retailers specializing in used records and CDs say their businesses have held steady even in the midst of what officials call the worst economic period since the Great Depression.

Cash-strapped music lovers continue to head to the corner shop to browse through the latest collection of secondhand albums.

"Despite it being a lousy economy, we still have a really loyal customer base," said Alicia Beasley, manager of Turn It Up! in Brattleboro. "We're doing well, we're doing good."

The store has seen a bump in sales since winter, with annual events such as last weekend's "May Magic" sidewalk sale bringing in decent profits.

"I think the economic downturn has helped us a bit, but the whole industry has seen a steady decline beginning in 1999," said Fred Wilber, owner of Montpelier's Buch Spieler.

With the digitizing of music and its wide availability online, secondhand stores have taken a major hit over the past decade, he said.

Elektra Duncan, co-owner of In the Moment, a record store in Brattleboro, agreed with Wilber about the condition of the music retail industry.

"I think that we're holding steady in a time when many stores are showing a decline," she said.

Approaching its fourth year in downtown Brattleboro, Duncan said In the Moment has seen a jump in its annual sales regardless of the national economy.

To stay in business during a recession and the explosion of music Web sites, many retail shops have turned to the Internet to reach a broader audience.

Duncan said their online business is holding its own, selling a good portion of contemporary and pop music to buyers in Europe, Russia and Japan.

"We've decided to integrate (the Internet) rather than fight it," he said.

Expanding retail services to the Internet has also helped Burlington-based Pure Pop Records stay afloat.

According to store employee Amy Wild, online albums sales have boosted even as less business is seen revolving through the doors.

"The stuff that won't necessarily sell at the store in Burlington will sell online in other parts of the country and around the world," she said.

Online music has also helped Turn It Up! sales, but in a different way.

Beasley said the store can compete with online music sites because Turn It Up! is selling music for the same price or less than downloading tunes.

"We're finding a lot of people check here and compare it to online, and buy their music here," she said.

Resale stores usually thrive during difficult economic periods. Consumers with less money in their pockets tend to sell unnecessary items in an effort to acquire some quick cash.

"We're definitively seeing an older generation bringing stuff in," said Beasley. There has been a mixed bag of middle-aged customers selling vinyl and CDs, she added.

"There's been a lot of people coming in to sell their music collection to make some extra money," said Wild.

Most shops report an increase in customers bringing in their vinyl records, but many retailers say the aging bundles often yield few sales.

"I've been seeing more vinyl coming in, but what they bring in isn't very good," said Wilber. If people are trying to maximize their return, many turn to online services, he said.

In some cases, it isn't even the dusty vinyl boxes left in the attic for years that people are selling.

"We buy movies, too, we're seen a lot of that," said Beasley.

But since more customers are pawning off old vinyl albums and used CDs, music shops also benefit because it provides a high turnover rate of new merchandise coming in.

"People are getting rid of a lot of old stuff, but vinyl's coming back around," said Duncan. The record sales are increasing at a faster rate than CDs, she said.

With a new awareness around records, more teenagers are coming in and looking at classic rock 'n' roll albums re-released on vinyl, said Duncan. "People are recognizing there is a difference in how it sounds."

Buch Spieler has seen the opposite effect -- less youth purchasing records and more people buying new CDs.

Wilber said he has noticed his shop alter from an after-school hangout to an older clientele looking to add to their collections with brand new CDs.

"I'm not getting as many used CDs as I used to," he added. Wilber has owned the capital city music store for more than three decades.

Even in tough economic times, people continue to look at entertainment items, such as purchasing music or going to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

But for the same price seeing a movie once in the theater, Wilber said a customer can own an album for a lifetime. "Music is still a relatively good bargain."


Classic Rock Videos

Led Zeppelin Rock n Roll 1973

Top 5 eBay Vinyl Record Sales

Week Ending 05/09/2009

1. LP - The Beatles "Yesterday and Today" LP Butcher First State Mono Perry Cox COA - $7,000.00 - Start: $7,000.00 - Bids: BIN

2. 45 - Walter & The Admeration's "Man Oh Man (What Have I Done)" / "Life Of Tears" La-Cindy - $4,250.00 - Start: $9.99 - Bids: 15

3. 45 - Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers "My Bonnie" / "The Saints" - $4,175.00 - Start: $0.01 - Bids: 34

4. 45 - Rock Bottom & The Spys "Rich Girl" / "No Good" "Death Trap" Bottom - $2,945.99 - Start: $1,000.00 Bids: 9

5. 45 - The Sweets "Satisfy Me Baby" / "Something About My Baby" Soultown - $2,600.00 - Start: $3,000.00 - Bids: Best Offer

Lots of butcher covers sell on eBay, but none have been mono first states with a Perry Cox certificate, so this week's #1 stands alone, selling on a Buy-It-Now for $7k.

45's fill out the rest of the list, with the northern soul 45 from Walter & The Admeration's single selling for halfway over $4.2k. The Beatles show up again in the #3 spot, this time in their incarnation as the Beat Brothers backing Tony Sheridan. The "My Bonnie" single bids up well over $4.1k.

In the #4 spot a punk 45 makes its way up past $2.9k, and last, another norther soul 45 from The Sweets gets a best offer of $3k.

As always, thanks to Norm at for this great data!

Music News & Notes

Sir Paul & Dylan?

Bob Dylan has stated that he would like to collaborate with Paul McCartney on a future studio project. Dylan told Rolling Stone:

"That would be exciting, to do something with Paul but, you know, your paths have to cross for something like that to make sense."

A spokesman for McCartney said "I should think he would be very interested in hearing about it. As you can imagine, it would be a pretty major thing if it went ahead."


New Bangles' Material?

Susanna Hoffs not only has "Under the Covers Volume 2" coming out with Matthew Sweet, but she is also in the process of writing a new Bangles album.

"We're kind of under the radar to some extent, but we're always on and off the road during the year. We're sort of approaching the record like we're going to go in and record three songs, and go out on the road and come back, and go in and record three songs," she said to Spinner.


Wilco Album Cover Art

Wilco revealed the album cover for their new LP Wilco (The Album) on their official Website: And yes, it’s a photo of a camel attending a rooftop birthday party. The picture is from a site in Milwaukee, WI (a eatery) and the LP is set for a June 30th release date.

The Fascinating History of Record Collecting

A great article from my vinyl friends over at

By Kevin Hawkins

Record Collecting has been around for about as long as recorded sound. In the beginning phonographs and the records, which were played (first wax cylinders and later flat shellac discs) were mostly reserved for the rich people. However, by 1920 the manufacturing process for both records and players was improved, which lead to a drop in the price for the players and purchasing music became a possibility for a broader range of people.

After the phonograph cylinder was given up the record became the uncontested medium for decades. The number of available recordings exploded and the number of companies, which pressed records also increased incredibly. The records, which were pressed, were 78 rpm, double-sided, ten-inch shellac discs, with about four minutes of recording time on each side.

While the recorded sound industry grew at an extreme high pace the growth eventually slowed down by the Great Depression and World War II, since countries were lacking raw materials. When World War II ended, the economy in these countries started to grow again and what happened was that Classical music (which accounted for a significant portion of the 78rpm releases) was slowly pushed into minority status by the influx of popular and new music.

An important point in the history of record collecting was when the 33 1/3 rpm, 12-inch LP record and the 45 rpm, 7-inch record became available on the market around 1949/1950. These formats provided advances in both storage and quality and these records were made of vinyl, which then came to replace shellac as manufacturing material. Also, groups of small record labels were formed with the beginning of the rock and roll era in the early to middle 1950s, and the growth of a market among post-war teenagers with disposable income to spend on 45 rpm singles was important.

Record Collecting as a hobby most likely did not take shape as it is know today before until the 1960s. With the folk music boom in the late 1950s to early 1960s, there was suddenly a demand for archival material. In some countries record collectors started to search small and remote towns for older discs. In the beginning the most wanted items were pre-World War II shellac discs containing records, which mostly were what is considered the precursors to then current rock and roll and country styles. Later generations of record collectors found their passion in digging up obscure 45s for genres such as doo-wop, or LPs from the late 1960s garage rock and psychedelic genres.

In January 1964 the pop music scene changed forever with the arrival of The Beatles in the United States. Following The Beatles was a wave of thousands of bands inspired by their fresh; lively take on rock music with a sharp British sensibility, picked up guitars and many released records. Many of these acolytes released 45 rpm records in small batches to sell at local concerts and to their friends and families. Because of their relatively small pressings, these obscure local records became highly priced and valuable.

The collectors item with the most notoriety in record collecting is not a record at all, but merely an album cover. The Beatles themselves accidentally contributed what s probably the most well known and valuable collectors piece of the rock and roll era: The Butcher Cover. This title is an informal one for the cover of the Yesterday and Today album, which was released in 1967. Until this date LP releases in the US by The Beatles were different from those released released in the United Kingdom. The ones released in the US were shorter, had different songs, album titles and artwork.

Another Holy Grail of some collectors is Bob Dylans The Freewheelin Bob Dylan released in 1963, and has four songs that were deleted from subsequent pressings. For example the price of this record is known to be around $35,000 for the stereo version and $16,500 for the mono version, when in excellent condition.

One collectible record format is known as test pressing. A test pressing is what the name implied; 5-10 copies of a record pressed for the purpose of checking the mix or levels on a record, or to ensure that the die is cutting properly. Although the test pressing is naturally meant for the band, producer, pressing plant or record label to keep as reference, they are often placed in special packaging and given out to friends or devoted fans.

About the author

Kevin Hawkins writes about music, the music industry and vinyl records. To find out more about the history of record collecting and vinyl check out

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