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.