Monday, June 21, 2010

Vinyl Comeback Special

When I first started I wanted to do a website for younger fans. More or less my generation, the one before, and the one coming after. Basically the age group of 16-45 was my target audience.

Though I have always been an avid fan of the vinyl format for listening to music, I assumed this age bracket would be accustomed to CD and MP3 listening. Therefore, I focused on the CD releases from the mid 1980s to the present.

Nothing happened.

I got bombarded with email regarding the (unexpectedly) controversial articles regarding the fact that Elvis is physically dead and not alive, but nothing about the music articles.

To be totally honest, I was really out of touch with the current format market. I loathe, hate, and despise the MP3. That’s just me. And I spent most my time in stores that exclusively sold used vinyl.

In casual browsing and expanding my searches to find many of the older deleted Elvis CD’s , it opened up my eyes as I began noticing new vinyl in many of these stores, as well as unexpectedly large sections of used vinyl. I also became very surprised to see stores like Target selling record players. I knew old vinyl collecting had never died, but became curious as to how big the format’s resurgence actually was?

And then I saw the Nielsen Sound Scan report for 2009. Vinyl is up 33% !

Just prior to this, I had decided that I lacked any passion in reviewing old Elvis CD’s, and made the decision to change my review articles.

This change resulted in me reviewing an album on the format it was originally released on. Therefore, if an album came out on vinyl first, I would review the original vinyl and visa verse.

At this stage, suddenly things changed for the site. The focus began to shift from the “Alive” topic and instead seem to attract the readers I wanted. This is likely due to tagging and internet search engines, but that meant people were searching for articles on Elvis vinyl. My reader subscription head count also tripled. From a couple dozen to several. Emails began to flood in with questions regarding vinyl. And they were coming from teenagers and young adults. This was more than encouraging and exciting to me.

I also noticed that the amount of Elvis vinyl on eBay had actually doubled in only six months. In the Spring of 2009 the average amount of Elvis vinyl on eBay was 7-8000 records. As of Winter 2010 it was up too 14,000. A small percentage of this could be attributed to the economy, but to double it would certainly require more. There has to be a demand to meet that kind of supply.

Artists who are unpopular in collecting circles but were initially high sellers in their heyday such as Barbara Streisand, Mantovani, Ray Conniff, and others had rather minimal amounts of vinyl for sale on eBay. Why? After time has passed, people simply give up on trying to sell something that won’t. In Elvis Presley’s case, I have calculated almost 65% of the vinyl listed on eBay has a bid, or multiple bids. This means the merchandise is actually moving.

The good news, is this surge in popularity among new vinyl collectors who simply want to buy the album to listen too ( as opposed for a show piece) are not paying the old inflated prices that Elvis vinyl was often listed at. As a result, crooked dealers are dropping their ridiculous opening bids for items they are now in fierce competition to sell.

So what is it with vinyl? Why vinyl?

In these times of major technological advances, we’ve lost a part of ourselves. With MP3 downloads and Kindle books, it begins to leave a human being with a laptop and not much else. Maybe staring at those empty shelves and listening to the joy of music on a small device smaller than their hands has left people feeling a bit empty.

Or is it the warmth, quality, and beauty of the vinyl record? Let’s face it. New vinyl costs a bit more than a CD, but what are you getting? With a Compact Disc you get a few pieces of plastic, and a booklet that is printed on recycled magazine paper. You’re still shelling out 20$. Then you download it, or leave it in your car and it gets trashed. It’s worthless. You eventually gather them all up and take them somewhere to sell, and what do you hear?

“We’re not really buying CD’s that much these days”.

One assumes it is because everybody is downloading. But on your disappointing exit from the store, you notice a large section of vinyl. And I’ve witnessed first hand, this section can get a little competitive and fierce. This behavior is displayed by people who only a couple years ago didn’t even know what these were.

That’s right. People are buying records again. New, used, and whatever they can get their hands on.

I went to two local music stores which sell new and used CD’s and vinyl. I asked to speak to the manager and found that Vinyl is selling 4-1 against the CD.


That’s fairly serious. So serious in fact, they also said they are paying dollars for records and cents for CD’s.

This scenario was just the opposite only a few years ago. Also, to have both stores state

4-1 with no hesitation was an interesting co-incidence.

Both stores also indicated, when they can increase their inventory, their vinyl sections will be their main focus and point of attention. Both stores co-incidentally told me the following are their intended areas of sales targets.

[1] Vinyl Records

[2] DVD

[3] T-shirts, Magazines, Posters

[4] Vinyl supplies & equipment.

In April, FTD (Follow That Dream) the Elvis Presley officially licensed fan club label offered a 12” double vinyl edition of “Jailhouse Rock”. An album that outside of South Africa had never been issued on long play format with it’s original U.S. cover. This FTD release had sold out in less than a month. Though neither FTD or EPE would respond to my inquiry’s as to how many copies sold, the success of previous FTD vinyl indicated a large number of these had been made.

The “Blue Hawaii” FTD vinyl edition has also proved to be a big seller, as it is almost sold out as well. No word on how “The Jungle Room Sessions” or “Standing Room Only” have done in sales, but both are still available.

Sony/BMG released a vinyl version of Presley’s debut album last year “Elvis Presley” on Sony Legacy Vinyl and is widely available outside of indie record chains. However, no other vinyl releases have been announced or seen. Though corporations like Sony/BMG are sadly out of touch with the fan base, it is likely word will spread about the success of the FTD vinyl and hopefully see a full re-issue campaign underway at some point. We all know EPE and Sony/BMG loves to sell us the same thing multiple times, but this would likely fall into the hands of first time buyers. A promotional campaign may be a good move for the corporate giant.

An incredible European label called “Speakers Corner” have begun re-releasing select albums from Presley’s catalog on superb high quality vinyl editions as well. Comparing these to the Sony/BMG re-release of “Elvis Presley” is like rotten fruit to fresh fruit. The Speakers Corner releases go above and beyond the call of high quality, and surpass that level! They are with no doubt, the best re-releases seen since the 1960s.

As people, industry insiders, and analysts endlessly debate the vinyl phenomenon, all a person has to do in Elvis world is simply listen to the old records. It quickly becomes clear that years of tampering , compression, and overly digitizing the Presley catalog had made it lose much of it’s original luster and kick. Something that first time vinyl buyers will immediately notice on the Speakers Corner re-releases, and the the pre-1980s re-issues.

A full article on Speakers Corner will be forthcoming next month, until then check out their website at

On a final note, when you see articles in local papers etc. about used record stores closing after so many years, it should be noted that this is due to bad management, location, and over-pricing. Owners of these stores tend to play the ‘pity’ card that vinyl is dead. Research has shown the exact opposite.

Feel free to email me at any length with any questions.
Elvis collectors are seriously advised to pick up a copy of  “Presleyana” by Jerry Osborne at

Special thanks to Steven B. Roberts over at for this great article and exclusive permission to rerpint the material.

Steven B. Roberts – Website Writer & Publisher

Steven B. Roberts is available for T.V. , Radio, Films, Consulting, and questions. I am available to do reviews of your Elvis products. Email for details.  

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