Thursday, June 18, 2009

Online Vinyl Record Sales - A New Business Model

Written By Robert Benson

The music industry is an ever changing business entity. Slowly, CDs are disappearing as the format of choice and the sales leader of retail music. However, there is an old and friendly favorite emerging for millions of music lovers and competing for that almighty music dollar. Vinyl records are back, as the youth of today are finding the listening experience is greatly enriched when utilizing this historic music medium.

In fact, the resurgent vinyl record market shows no signs of a slowdown. Nielsen SoundScan has released estimated figures that indicate that sales of vinyl in the US are up 50% through the first five months of 2009. The counting giant also predicts that vinyl record sales will reach over 2.7 million units sold in 2009; up from 1.9 million units in 2008.

To be fair, these numbers are somewhat underestimated because of the sale of used vinyl in our ever shrinking record stores. Additionally, they don’t count some of the independent record stores where vinyl sells the best. However, there is a new vinyl model emerging, places where millions do their ‘vinyl shopping,’ the online record store. Although shopping online can never replace the experience of visiting your local record store, vinyl consumers can visit hundreds of online record sellers and find records that may not be offered at their local store, such as rare imports, picture discs, boxed sets or obscure releases from other countries. There are websites that cater to strictly jazz, some that offer classic rock or psychedelic music, rap or R&B, and some that deal with 45rpm records; why they still sell 78 rpm records for those who are in need of this rustic medium. There are some that specialize in audiophile vinyl, rare and out-of-print records as well. But most online vinyl retailers offer an eclectic array of music to choose from and millions of music lovers are now satisfying their musical palette and finding the online record website to suit their needs.

Let’s explore this phenomenon in greater detail with the owner of, Laura Miller, who started in the music business as a DJ at KVMR, a community radio station in Nevada City, California; so she has a keen understanding and love for the format.

“I felt compelled to open a record store and as a vinyl enthusiast wanted to help people find reasonable vinyl records at a reasonable price,” explained Laura.

She started in the business of selling vinyl records in 1988 near Sacramento, California, running a retail store named “In The Groove Records.” After operating the ‘brick and mortar’ store for more than nine years, she sold her business and has been supplying fine vinyl records online with her web site and as an ebay ‘Power Seller.’

However one of the obstacles of the business is actually finding records to sell, Laura is always looking for collections.

I buy collections from individuals and estates,” explains Laura. “Three years ago I bought an incredible large collection (6,000 records) from a music critic. Finding collections is the most challenging part of my business. I am always looking for large collections of vinyl records (LPs and 45s) and music memorabilia, especially from people who have been in the music business; music critics, former record company folks or broadcasters. I am mainly interested in 1950’s & 1960’s jazz, blues, rock, soul and country and will travel for large collections. I also offer finder’s fees for tips that lead to the purchase of large collections.”

Laura also explained some of the advantages & disadvantages of selling online.

“The advantage of selling on line is that I can receive orders 24 hours a day and I have an international clientele. A record store has limited hours, it has to be staffed and it has a limited geographical reach. One of the disadvantages of selling online is shipping records by media mail within the United States. The post office claims that it takes 4-14 days to ship by media mail, but it can take up to three weeks or longer. Most people don’t realize how long it takes, and we do get occasional e-mails from angry customers asking where is my order?”

Tell us more about your online business.

“We carry multiple genres of music including jazz, rock, blues, country, and soul and have over 10,000 records in stock. I would say that the jazz and rock LPs are our bestsellers. We grade conservatively according to the Goldmine Magazine Standards and the highest grade we give a record would be near mint (NM),” explained Laura. “As an ebay power seller (seller name is littlelam), I am very careful about grading records.”

There are literally hundreds of vinyl retailers online who carry on this tradition of offering quality used vinyl at reasonable prices. Record buyers must weed out the best and worst and the great aspect of this retailing method is that it is quite easy to find an online vendor that suits your needs. Now, if they can only be counted….

Copyright 2009 ~ Robert Benson

Classic Rock Videos

ZZ Top - La Grange

For the record: Can vinyl make a comeback

written by Diane Turbyfill

Music swims through the airwaves and zips into computers and compact disc, but some people just can't stop loving vinyl.

"It will still have a small audience who thinks that vinyl sounds better. It's nostalgia," said Anthony Michaels.

A Dallas resident, Michaels is assistant program director at WLNK 107.9 and a former record representative for Atlantic Records.

Many vinyl lovers say you can't beat the sound emitted when the needle glides over a record. Michaels begs to differ.

"It's always depended on the system that you have," said Michaels. "People love the warm sound of vinyl, which I've never understood."

All the rage for decades, vinyl records were replaced by cassette tapes, followed by CDs, then by digital downloads. But don't count out the big black LPs yet. More people purchased vinyl records in 2008 than they have in almost 20 years, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

The number of record sales doesn't compete with digital downloads but it is on the rise.

"Vinyl continued to stage a comeback as the format more than doubled year-over-year to $57 million, the highest level since 1990," Joshua Friedlander wrote in a release about 2008 shipment statistics.

Vice president of the recording association, Friedlander credits devout fans, new releases and catalogue material with the resurgence.

A sparse selection of new releases and compellations are sold at Best Buy on Franklin Boulevard. The latest Ben Folds and Coldplay records sit on shelves above CDs next to collections from Queen, Elton John and Bruce Springsteen. Prices range from $29.99 to $129.99.

Pearl Jam also still puts out music on vinyl, according to Michaels.

"It's all up to the bands if they want to release it," said Michaels. "Record companies aren't pushing them to put it on vinyl. They just want to get it digital and put it online."

Some artists include vouchers for free digital downloads inside new vinyl records.

Vinyl at Eddie's Place on Garrison Boulevard has a more eclectic flavor. Open for more than a month, the store buys and sells albums.

"I was wondering how vinyl would do, and it's doing quite well," said store owner Eddie Patterson.

Patterson's selection includes Neil Diamond, the Monkees, the Beatles and Elvis. Prices range from $1.99 to $150.

Most large retail stores are not devoting too much space to the resurrected vinyl records, Michaels said.

"They're giving like 10 square feet to vinyl now," he said.

But even vinyl-lovers can click their way to getting their fix. offers a special vinyl-only section with hundreds of items on sale and a list of those on the horizon.

Michaels doesn't aim to be a naysayer but believes vinyl isn't strong enough to stage a full comeback.

"There will still be people that buy vinyl, but it'll never be as big as it was," he said.

You can reach Diane Turbyfill at 704-869-1817.

More people purchased vinyl records in 2008 than they have in almost 20 years, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Progression of LP/EP sales in millions

•1998 $34

•1999 $31.8

•2000 $27.7

•2001 $27.4

•2002 $20.5

•2003 $21.7

•2004 $19.3

•2005 $14.2

•2006 $15.7

•2007 $22.9

•2008 $46.2

•2009 $56.7

Numbers indicate dollar values using shipment statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America.

More people purchased vinyl records in 2008 than they have in almost 20 years, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Reprinted By Permission

Those Oldies But Goodies...

by Steve Propes | Hometown Music

While in college, Long Beach State to be specific, I continued to collect 45rpm rock and roll records unabated. Every Independence and New Year’s Day, local Thrifty Drugstores would set up racks full of out-of-print 45s… ten for a dollar. I’d get the address of every store in Long Beach and visit each one, buy what looked interesting and wait for the next sale.

What I didn’t know was while I was blanketing the Long Beach Thrifty Drugstores, a Torrance record store clerk named Bob Hite and his buddy Claude McKee were doing the same thing in their town. But they went one further. They located the distributor’s name on the record rack and contacted the source, getting in the warehouse and buying the records before they were shipped.

I later learned this when I met Hite – better known as leader of the blues-rock band Canned Heat, which got a giant kick-start at Woodstock – and McKee at the record swap in West L.A., the predecessor to the famed Capitol Tower record meet in Hollywood.

Hite had a major collection of pre-war blues 78s and McKee also acquired these super-rarities. But Hite liked 45s too. When his label, Liberty, picked up the historic Imperial and Aladdin labels, he went through the vaults and carted off everything he could, creating the Legendary Masters reissue series in the process. Another man with major collector chops, Barry Hansen, later known as Dr. Demento, also showed up at these record shows every month.

While Canned Heat toured, members Hite and guitar player Henry Vestine would aggressively seek out rare blues and country 78s at out of the way locales. Sadly, several members of the band got heavily into drugs. Lead singer Al Wilson died early of an overdose and Hite’s collection went to the winds – or equally aggressive record collectors (same thing) – in his search for the next high. It wasn’t unusual to get midnight phone calls – “Meet me at the alley behind Hamburger Henry’s, I’ve got records, I need cash.” Tempting, but I never went. Others did.

And other collectors were heavily into drugs, but maybe in the 70s and 80s, that was the way to be. Most are dead now.

I had a job, which required me to be in the field where, during dull moments, I could constantly scour thrift and used shops from Compton to Lynwood, from Carson to Orange County to grab all the vinyl I could find.

In Compton, I met Gary Peterson, a friend to this day. He was standing in the back room of the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop sifting through used 45s. His secret was the product he sold on his route: Bowie Pies. What thrift store clerk is going to refuse delicious pies – his only request, let me be the first to see the 45s. I only had my winning personality, but in both cases, we each had our ins.

In the very early 1970s, I’d visit the library to find books on phonograph records from which I could glean information about the records I loved so much. Should I have been surprised to learn most of the books on records were about classical, opera and if I was lucky, jazz? Nothing serious had been published on the field of rock & roll – rhythm & blues record collecting. My fruitless search for collecting literature provided me a simple idea. If there’s no book out there on the subject, why not write it? Stupid idea; so I plowed ahead.

After submitting a manuscript to the L.A. Times magazine called "New West" – they almost bought it, but they went under before they could – I sold the manuscript to Macmillan. It was titled “Those Oldies But Goodies” and got a good review in Rolling Stone. The timing was impeccable. Old rock and roll was experiencing a big rebound in 1972, the year KRTH-FM debuted and Dr. Demento was more popular than ever. The release of “American Graffiti” in 1973 just amped up the scene.

The good news was “Those Oldies But Goodies” sold about 20,000 copies…the bad news was the low, low cover price… low price, low royalties. My editor left Macmillan and I wound up where he wound up, at Chilton, which was the perfect publisher for car repair manuals, not so great for books on record collecting, so my two follow-up works didn’t sell nearly as well as the first.

“Those Oldies But Goodies” revealed that old 45s could be worth a lot, but very compared to today’s prices. $100 was a lot. Some collectors didn’t like me publishing their secret information. Once, a dealer who sold out of a house built on the back of a pick-up truck was in the same line I was at a record show and pointed to me – “There’s the guy who wrote the book!” he exploded. “Get him!” Well, maybe it was a little less harsh, but it seemed doom-provoking to me. He’s now in Austin, Texas, and I’m still here.

In 1973, a Press-Telegram reporter named Denise Kusel heard about my activities from the first book I had published, so she contacted me about doing an article on record collecting. It appeared in papers all over America and I got many calls about collections for sale, many of which I bought. Which is all prelude to me contacting the new management at KLON and changing my life forever.

About Hometown Music
A graduate of Wilson High (1960) and CSULB (1965), Steve Propes has been collecting records for many decades; was the KLON R&B DJ from 1981 to 1990 (with a short return in '93); has interviewed hundreds of singers, players, DJs and label owners; hosted Steve Propes Rock & Roll House Party on Charter Cable; founding member of the So. Cal Doo Wop Society; author of seven published books on R&R history and hosts the Steve Propes 45s Show is heard live on on Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and on, playing from his collection of over 35,000 45s, about 1,000 CDs and hours on interviews on tape.

Since 2000, Steve has reported for and written a police column for the Beachcomber and contributed to various music publications like Record Collector News, which can be found at record stores and record meets.


Vinyl Art Auction For Charity

Received this from my vinyl friend, artist Daniel Edlen, whose one-of-a-kind vinyl paintings are the buzz of the art and vinyl worlds. Stop by and bid this up and get a fantastic piece of art as well!

To Those Like-minded,

A brief note about a piece I donated to charity.

I gave a Johnny Cash to Musicians On Call, a group that provides live and recorded music to people who can't go see music themselves, but need it. Hospital patients, homebound individuals...

The auction is being run by Country Music Television (CMT), a subsidiary of MTV, in connection with the Country Music Awards that happened a couple days ago. Here is the link to the auction page:

There are less than 4 days remaining for the auction. Two bids have been placed and it stands at $55 (plus around $30 for shipping/handling on their end). All proceeds will go to the charity. They do add on 10% to go to the auction partner, but your final bid amount goes to Musician On Call.

Here's my original post about the piece, with a better photo:

Please take a look and if you're at all interested in owning a special piece of Vinyl Art that'll bring a smile to your face when you look at it and tell friends how you got it, BID!!

Daniel Edlen

Music News & Notes

Eddie Van Halen Sues Nike

Eddie Van Halen is suing Nike over the color design on their "Dunk Low" sneakers. The new design is black with a red bottom side trim and black and white crisscrosses that Van Halen says is way to close to his signature Frankenstrat guitar. As a matter of fact, Eddie was so invested in that color scheme that he had it copyrighted back in 2001.

The suit is looking for money along with the "impoundment and destruction of all footwear.” It might also have something to do with the fact that Van Halen released his own sneakers with the Frankenstrat color scheme just last month through his EVH Shoes.

Good luck, Eddie, hope you make 'em pay!


Uncle Kraker releases new album

Closing a 5 year gap between albums, Uncle Kracker will be releasing his latest album called "Happy Hour" on 15 September 2009.

Uncle Kraker who's real name is Matt Shafer told, "It's a pop-rocked record, still with a little country (and) soul fused through it. There's more uptempo than there is on my last three records. I'm pretty stoked about it."

The first single from the album is called "Smile" and is streaming on Kraker's website at http//


Jay & the Americans Tribute

Collector's Choice Music is assembling a complete catalog of singles from a veteran 60's artist with their new Jay & the Americans: The Complete United Artist Singles. Release is scheduled for July 21.

Jay & the Americans first formed when Jay Traynor left the Mystics (Hushabye) and joined up with Kenny Rosenberg (later known Kenny Vance), Howie Kerschenbaum (Howie Kane) and Sandy Deane. A demo caught the ear of Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller who took them to United Artists where they would stay all the way into the mid-70's.

Their first single, a cover of Tonight from West Side Story, was only a New York City area hit. Their second release, Dawning, was also a national flop until it was turned over and the B-Side, She Cried, started to pickup airplay, eventually making it to number five.

The next few releases did not do well and Traynor left the group over creative differences. His replacement, David Blatt (who changed his name to Jay Black) and Marty Kuppersmith (Marty Sanders) were brought on board in early 1963 and, after a couple more flops, the group released Only in America, a moderate hit that reached number 25 and started the new group on a run that included eight more top 40 hits before the end of the decade.

The new album includes a whopping 68 tracks, both A and B sides, with all the hits and a number of obscurities. They are all in their original mono mixes and were all remastered from the original single master tapes. Ed Osborne produced and annotated the set, and got quotes from Americans Sandy Deanne, Marty Sanders and Kenny Vance. Single sleeves and photos round out the booklet.


New George Harrison Tracks

On the heels of the new George Harrison LP, Olivia Harrison said that she would like to do something with a number of unfinished tracks left behind by her husband George when he passed away in 2001. She even went as far as to say "There are lots of tracks. Some are closer to completion than others and with those I'd ask for help."

Jeff Lynne may be coming to the rescue. A source says that Harrison's Traveling Wilburys partner will review the tracks and produce at least an album's worth. "George half-finished loads of songs and often just forgot about them. There is probably an album's worth of material.

"Jeff and George were very close and worked together a lot in the later period of George's life. He's the right man to work on the material."

Harrison's son Dhani will also be involved with the album. Lynne previously produced the Beatles "Free As A Bird" from their 1995 Anthology album.


Julian Lennon Launches Tribute To His Dad

Julian Lennon - son of Beatle John Lennon - has launched a new exhibition in Liverpool that explores in tangible form for the first time the story of their lives together.

As he performed the official opening with his mother Cynthia, Julian revealed that touring the display galleries had unlocked lost memories and saw family photos he had never before encountered.

And Julian - immortalised in the song "Hey Jude" spoke about his gratitude to its author Paul McCartney for the love he had shown to him in his childhood.

Julian, 46, told how his mother reminded him that the Hey Jude lyrics were written for him.

Julian said: "I had been told when I was a kid but I'd forgotten.

"It was not until my early teens that I was reminded 'Hey Jude' was about me.

"I can't say it directly helped with any reconciliation but what it did mean to me was that there were other people on the fringe of our life that had a great deal of love, not only for myself but for mum too.

"To this I still have to appreciate and thank Paul for his love and care. It was a very, very kind gesture and one it seems that will never be forgotten."

Cynthia Lennon, 69, added: "We experienced what we experienced and we were in the public eye all the time. But Julian and I have always had these feeling of brotherhood - strange though that seem for mother and son."

Asked whether he had completely left behind feelings of rage against being deserted by his father Julian said:"It has definitely changed without a doubt.

"I realise myself that hate wastes a lot of time and energy and I would rather re-direct any energy that I have to good and positive use.

"It's a connection. It's a blood line. It's a love line - you can't just ignore that.

"The idea is to work through all those issues and problems. I feel that we have reached that level at this point. It is part and parcel of what we are trying to do with White Feather.

"It's to show that we still love the man - and the Beatles - and what we have all been through has been a tough few decades but we have come out the other side feeling strong.

"Hopefully we are educating and giving fans a slightly different aspect on how dad's life was with us in his earlier years, on his way to fame and obviously becoming famous."

Centerpiece of the exhibition are the pencil-scribbled original notes for the lyrics of "Hey Jude".

The 1968 Beatles chart-topper was composed by McCartney in a car as he headed to a meeting with Cynthia and Julian at their home. Originally titled ‘Hey Jules’ McCartney later changed the words to ‘Hey Jude’.

Julian bought the notes for £25,000 at auction in 1996 and has purchased many of the other items in the exhibition.

Other possessions on display include Julian’s Honda mini ‘monkey bike’ given to him by his father, and an electric guitar inscribed with the message “To Julian from Daddy, Christmas 1973’.

White Feather: The Spirit of Lennon runs from 17th June - 31st December at the new Mersey Ferries Terminal building at the Pier Head, Liverpool.

The title "White Feather" is a reference to a memorable conversation between father and son in which John told Julian that if he died and passed into an after-life he would send him a white feather signal.

Julian explains: ''One of the things my father said to me was that should he pass away, if there was some way of letting me know he was going to be ok, or that we were all going to be ok, it was by in some way, shape or form presenting me with a white feather.'

"About eleven years ago I was on tour in Australia and I was approached by an aboriginal tribe who gave me a white feather and asked me to help them - which I was taken aback by."

He told how he went on to make a TV documentary about the tribe and in the process decided to set-up the White Feather Foundation which had aided aboriginals and other struggling people directly and by supporting other charities.

Asked whether the white feather was a message he said: "That's difficult to say - but what it did do for me was to motivate me to do something positive and for me that is the most important thing."