What NOT To Sell: Records on eBay

Making millions selling rare translucent red vinyl 45s? Pure fantasy.

We all hear tales of obsessive music collectors and the small fortunes they are willing to pay for a chance to obtain some otherwise boring record that has a rare varient label or something. You might have glanced through an issue of Record Collector Magazine and thought to yourself that this is a business you should be part of. Perhaps your hippie parents have a whole basement full of boxes of rock and roll records that, despite their musky odor, must be worth tons of money. Well, you had better drop those thoughts form your head right now. Here's why:

  • Vinyl Record Collectors are an obsessive, picky bunch. They spend all their free time talking about rare variations and foreign printings and limited editions. They thrive on this info. I'm don't think they even listen to their records very often. That would be way to risky. If you don't know your shit, these people will eat you alive. Unless you are already an obsessive vinyl collector and greatly enjoy the excruciating minutia of the hobby, stand clear.
  • Every record you own is in terrible condition. You think your vinyl is in minty condition with no scratches. You are wrong... And you will pay dearly for your misjudgment. Unless your LPs are all still brand new and sealed straight form the factory (and even then), they are going to be graded much stricter by record collectors than you can possibly imagine.
  • Almost all records aren't worth much. I know the Beatles' Abbey Road changed your life, but it ain't worth squat. I know you heard that Black Sabbath's first album is rare, but it isn't. That rare variant label on some random Fleetwood Mac record; you don't have it so don't bother looking. Even those early Elvis 45s aren't fetching much. And don't even get me started on Sergio Mendes.
  • Records aren't easy to ship. Sure, they qualify for media mail, but if you thought you could just put your record in some cardboard and send it off, you obviously haven't dealt with a vinyl collector before.
  • Most folks think their records are valuable. This can make it difficult to find a good deals when you are out picking. Almost all garage sales have a box of old showtunes on vinyl for a couple bucks each. All of those records are worth nothing. Hey, if you love the soundtrack to My Fair Lady, go ahead and buy it for a few bucks. But don't fool yourself that these are worth picking to make a profit on.
  • You will never make money reselling records bought at Used Record Stores. Those stores know what they are doing. Many of them sell their best finds on eBay. If it's in the "dollar bin", it's there for a good reason.
  • Information on valuable records is not as easy to access as you would hope. Do you know the difference between a 1st pressing and later pressings? How about a pressing from another country? Is it worth more or less? Little details like these can be the difference between a big score and a big burn. There are thousands of these details, and the aren't nearly as easy to find using an iPhone as you would hope.
  • The rare records that are worth something can take a long time to list. On the off-chance you do end up with some valuable vinyl, you're going to need to list every freaking detail about the record, the label, the cover, the printing... everything. With lots of photos. Record collectors don't take risks when paying premium prices. You'll need to accurately grade your records. You'll need to listen to them all for any subtle surface noise. And you'll probably still screw up the listing somehow anyway. 
But all is not lost for a Part Time Picker looking at a cheap stack of records. While a Used Record Store won't give you nearly what the records are worth, you can still turn a tidy profit if you know the kinds of things they want to buy. While 1960s rock and roll (with some exceptions) are fairly common and not valuable, 1980s metal and punk records can get you some serious bucks. Record albums from the 1990s, when vinyl was more or less not being produced, can fetch huge prices.

Certain record stores specialize in jazz or punk or whatever and pay decent bucks for used records and singles. Ask them what they are generally looking for, and keep your eye out those things. Let them deal with the obsessive record collectors. We are looking for a quick flip for profit here. Trying to maximize your record picking with individual eBay auctions can be a real hornet's nest. Like I said before, if you don't know your shit inside and out, you will get eaten alive.


14 comments:

  1. What an interesting Blog What NOT To Sell: Records on eBay. We all hear tales of obsessive music collectors and the small fortunes they are willing to pay for a chance to obtain some otherwise boring record that has a rare varient label or something. Thanks for sharing with us, I want to share more information about What to sell on ebay. Please visit at- Comment vendre sur ebay How to find the most profitable products without advance money.

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  2. VERY OPINIONATED -OFTEN INCORRECT-JOUVENILE PRESENTATION

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    1. Why don't you tell me what you really think.
      Just kidding, I welcome all feedback, regardless of the use of all caps.

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    2. I think I sold a record to that guy...

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  3. I have been a record collector for 15 years, and I am VERY offended!
    No, just joking ;-)
    I HAVE actually been a record collector for 15 years, but recently I decided to make the switch to CDs to get better sound quality after I made a big comparison between 220 albums on both CD and vinyl.
    I was ocassionally paying $200 for a used record, but I was almost always unhappy with what I bought online - because I was like most other record collectors: Nitpicky and perfectionistic.
    Now I have started to sell my records, because they could never make me happy. I've been constantly frustrated for 15 years. Selling the records and buying the CDs will give me a surplus financially but also when it comes to happiness.
    The crystal clear and full sound of CDs is what I always truly wanted but I got hung up in trying to achieve prestige by buying the "right thing" (according to record collectors), which is vinyl - CDs were banished.
    Most people I have sold to so far haven't understood my choice, but can you persuade a religious person to believe that God don't exist?
    Vinyl is ideology and religion to most collectors nowadays. If it was only about the music, then most things could be bought new on a CD or a vinyl reprint for $20, but it's not just about the music - that's why people pay so much.

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    1. Thanks for the comment.
      I collect records and CDs (and tapes), mostly just to get music on the cheap. I remember getting used rock and metal records in the 90s for so cheap, back when vinyl was out of style. Nowadays, it seems like you can get great deals on CDs, since they are considered dead due to digital downloads.
      As a record collector, I'm sure you are going into selling records with eyes more open than the average picker.

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  4. I've sold everything on eBay but I've found records to be the biggest pain in the butt! I've had pristine albums returned as scratched or defective, but only because the buyer had replaced his shagged out copy with my minty record and sent his POC back to me! And I live in Florida, where my super-rare vinyl record has literally melted in the back of the USPS truck. Never again.

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  5. Yes selling your vinyl records on ebay can be tricky to the uneducated seller for sure.
    I have been a record collector for more than 45 years and sell on ebay. I still get it wrong with my gradings.
    But I have also bought from stores with sales beyond 2-10 thousand and 95% of the time I find a fault with the vinyl.
    So I thought I would use this as a teaching tool for myself when I sell.
    Well, it sort of worked but I still have the occasional buyer complaining about 1 or 2 tiny imperfections I might have missed, and I mean tiny.
    They either want a refund on sending the record back or a partial refund, and you can't do diddly squat about it under ebay's rules. The buyer always wins, AND THEY KNOW IT!!
    So now I treat it like gambling, that is YOU WIN SOME and YOU LOSE SOME, and that way it doesn't play up on my mind.
    I must say that MOST buyers are genuinely happy with my records but.
    If you know nothing about vinyl other then it is a big cd but plays with a needle I would suggest you never try and sell your vinyl on ebay. Grading and knowing the labels, years covers and all the different types of information needed to sell vinyl takes many many years to learn right.
    It is in my opinion the longest apprenticeship on the planet to learn, and you can never ever be 100% right with all your gradings, and even if you were there are buyers out there who will find some minor defects , BELIEVE ME!!

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    1. Well stated, John. I'm always out at the thrift stores looking for records because I love rock and roll, and I always end up chatting it up with someone thinking they are going to get rich flipping that Steeley Dan LP.
      Selling records is not for the inexperienced.

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  6. Ok, here is my advice. I usually buy bulk lp's at garage sales. I pay $20 to $50 for 100 lp's. So I may pay $.75 for each lp. Some are in great shape and others not so much. I price all of them overly priced. Collectors will pay a lot for rarities. When they are happy I get great feedback. A lot of times buyers are too embarrassed to admit they got had, don't leave any fb. Others who do complain I am extremely apologetic. I offer to totally refund and pay for return shipping. Others get mad and demand a partial refund. Again, I am totally apologetic. Agree to refund $20 on a $40 sale. So, my profit from these are still $19. And I look like an honest seller who cares that his lp "got damaged in shipping" Between the over priced lp's sold, people who just accept the lp's I send and the partial refunded orders. Over shadows the very few returns I have to pay for. Then I just relish them, price them higher to make up the loss. Just remember to be polite and "understanding" I have 100% feedback. My $20 dollar investment makes $200 + I am not fooling or joking. I never pay more than $1 for a record. And only at yard sales where people just want free space.

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    1. I can get behind playing this risk/reward game. Even if a bunch of the sales go belly-up, your ledger is still in the black. I'm surprised you are still at 100% feedback, though.
      I'm also surprised that you are finding any records that will sell for $40 in the stack of 100. I can only imagine the ridiculous quantities of Perry Como your dealing with.
      Thanks for commenting.

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  7. And don't even bother waking up in the morning. You are not a unique individual snowflake. You are as worthless as your record collection. Just because your grandmother's South Pacific soundtrack help her when all of those DJ battles does not mean you have any intelligence or ability. Your grandmother was an ill DJ and you are stupid. Records may have been around for 140 years but clearly no one, not even phonograph pioneer, DJ Thomas "Electricity" Jefferson himself, have the skills it takes to sell a record in two days millennial hipster driven market. I agree with the author who penned these enlightened words of wisdom. NEVER try to pursue your interests. Especially if you're delusional, stupid and recklessly irresponsible enough to dip your toes in through the shark infested waters of record collecting. A vinyl enthusiast is a highly trained skilled artisans who is better than you. Always remember: trying is the first step towards failure

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    1. Finally someone gets what I'm trying to say. But how did you know my grandmother was a DJ?

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  8. It is possible to make some good money but as mentioned, only IF the record has something rare or unique. I owned a white vinyl edition of the Beatles White Album bought from a record store in the late 70s for $35. I sold it 10 years ago for $500 but I sometimes wonder if I had waited whether or not it would fetch as much. Perhaps i was lucky.

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