Time to set the record straight on records (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Every month, I get at least 1-2 inquiries about selling records. Most of the time, I can’t help but cringe a little as soon as I hear the request. Yes, it’s true that vinyl has made of bit of a comeback in the last 10 years. However, you have to keep in mind who is buying all of those records (mostly younger folks) and what they’re buying (unfortunately, not Benny Goodman or a lot of swing band albums). Record collecting today is driven directly by a few factors: genre, rarity, and condition.
By far, the most popular vinyl genre is classic rock from the 1960s – 1970s, with the Beatles and Elvis leading the way for some of the most desirable albums. Next is a genre called “Northern Soul”, which originated in northern England in the late 1960s and consists primarily of lesser-known American soul artists that produced mostly regional albums in small quantities. Finally, hard-to-find pressings of certain classical albums can command prices into the thousands of dollars (although unless you are a very particular collector, you will most likely not own a classical album like that.) If you think you have something that may be valuable, visit www.popsike.com , which lists the results for millions of record sales.
Next, it’s a matter of determining which albums may be worth selling individually. You’ll want to make a list of albums by artist, then either go to popsike.com or use a book such the Goldmine Record Album Price Guide by Martin Popoff (at nearly 700 pages, it’s vast, but not all inclusive). If stumble across a figure in the price guide, be sure to compare it with a recent comparable sale online, as that will probably be a more realistic idea of what your album is worth.
Finally, what is the condition of the album (including the inner and outer sleeve, as well as the record itself). Serious collectors use a grading scale to assess the condition of each album, which I’ll touch on briefly. “Mint” is perfect, having never been played and without any damage; “near mint” may have a slight defect, such as faint ring wear on the outer sleeve (this is the baseline for the price guide and most collectors); “very good plus” may have some signs of wear, but was handled carefully by the previous owner (worth 50% of a near mint album); “very good” albums may have surface grooves, or damage such as tape/stickers on the cover (worth 25% of the near mint value). Anything graded below very good may not be worth selling, unless you manage to have something truly rare and valuable, regardless of condition!
The original article can be found in the November 2013 issue of Southern Neighbor available here: www.southernneighbor.com.