Teasing the Korean

Questions: Trends in Jazz Vinyl Sales Circa 2015

28 posts in this topic

While I never stopped buying vinyl, I bought most of my current accumulation during the great vinyl purge of the 1990s.  These were golden times:  No one wanted LPs, and before the internet, no one knew what anything was or what it was worth.  

Nowadays, I mostly buy CDs.  The prices are cheap, and I can play them in my car and at my desk.  While I still bring home LPs, it is far less frequent than it once was.

So my questions specifically concern jazz vinyl sales in the era of the "vinyl resurgence."  

I realize that original mono Blue Note LPs go for a fortune, and that particular labels have always remained desirable, e.g.  Strata East.  

But have there been any shifts in what people are buying jazz-wise?  Do people want current, sealed reissues, or original copies?  Have the more common titles flatlined, or has there been an uptick?  How about used copies of, say, OJC reissues or 70s twofer reissues?  Is the gulf between cheap stuff and expensive stuff narrowing or widening?  Anything interesting or surprising that you've noticed?   

From my perspective, I have seen the resurgence mostly affect the prices of pop stuff; but among the niche genres I buy, e.g., jazz, soundtracks, classical, Latin, space age bachelor pad, large swaths of the catalogs can still be obtained for short dough, while the pricey titles remain pricey, as always.

I am strictly looking for anecdotal information from buyers and sellers.  

Thanks in advance. 

Edited by Teasing

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Interesting topic...I might add more later but in general I find Blue Notes have gone up considerably and most free jazz stuff has gone down in price save for super rare or particularly heavy titles.

 

I'll add that I did most of my accumulation in the early 90s...a golden era for sure but imagine being able to dig in the early 80s!  I look at old cadence catalogs and see the whole FMP catalog for like $7 each..

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I've only bought 2 LPs this year - In Paris. One was cheap - Al Grey's Thinking man's trombone. The other was pretty expensive (by MY standards - 21 GBP) - that was Perez Prado's first LP; a 10" on RCA Victor LPM 21.

I thought I'd find a load of ole vinyl from the Dominican Republic and Haiti - but not a sausage. Do you have a secret source of cheap Latin material from those countries?

MG

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There is a copy of one of those early Hank Mobley Blue Notes from the late 50s on display at Rockaway Records (sorry, can't remember which one), the sticker price is $1200.  

 

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I buy lots of vinyl, and 99% of it is used. New titles are typically too pricey for my budget. Also, vinyl reissues tend to be "classics" that I often already own on CD. (And, in most cases, I'm not interested in owning titles in multiple formats.)

I'd guess that about two-thirds of my record purchases are from brick-and-mortar stores; the other third is via the web (mostly discogs and ebay).

I think the price of used jazz LPs are -- for the most part -- still remarkably low.  Most of the vinyl that I buy is in the $4 to $6 price range. Occasionally, I'll go for something more expensive -- especially if it's something that I've been seeking for a while. For example, last week, I bought a Max Roach LP on Soul Note from Wax n Facts here in Atlanta. It was in near-mint condition, and I paid $10 for it.

Some examples of great, inexpensive LPs that I bought in the last couple months:
- Paul Desmond - S/T (Artists House) - $4
- Nick Brignola/Pepper Adams - Baritone Madness (Beehive) - $6
- Miroslav Vitous - First Meeting (ECM) - $6
- Lew Tabackin - Tabackin (Inner City) - $5
- Sam Most - The Attic of My Mind (Xanadu) - $3
- Rein de Graaff/Dick Vennik Quartet - Modal Soul (Timeless/Muse) - $5

Recently, I've paid more for other titles by Charles McPherson, Ronnie Mathews, and Ira Sullivan. These were mail-order buys. But even then I didn't pay more than $15.

Obviously, most of my recent collecting has focused on jazz in the 1970s. With a few exceptions (like Strata East, mentioned above), most LPs from this era are very reasonably priced. I suppose that's because they're not considered "collectible" -- like Blue Note titles from the 50s and 60s, etc. 

That's fine by me. :)

 

Edited by HutchFan

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In the early 90s I was routinely buying ECM Lps for $1-3...a local shop owner offered me the "sun bear concerts" box set for $10 (I refused) and used to give me any Keith Jarrett 70s title for free.

Now these common ECMs have dried up and when you do see them in the racks they're priced at something stupid like $15-20..at least in my area, and they're not even German pressings.

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In the shops that I frequent here in Atlanta, I'd say that ECM LPs are typically priced between $6 and $9.

Super-common ones are often less.

Edited by HutchFan

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Most good stuff is no longer as cheap as it once was. Oh well.

I think a lot of jazz records are still expensive... not, you know, rinked CTIs and 80s Columbia titles, but even 70s Prestige dates can run $15-$20. At the end of the day, that might be the cost of two pints of beer here in NYC and it's a toss-up which I'd rather have!

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Same experience here as with Teasing's initial statement. I've been buying vinyl since 1975 (age 15), this slackened off a bit in the first half of the 80s (due to shortage of student funds), gained momentum again thereafter, peaked in the 90s and 2000s, first during the shift towards CDs when many unloaded their vinyl at secondhand shops, and later on when some local record stores got in HUGE secondhand collections (allegedly 100,000 items in one case) and sold off lots of the "older" styles (i.e. pre-hard bop) fairly cheaply for a time. These sources have dried up in recent years so my vinyl buying has slowed down again (shelf space is running out anyway ;)). The way I observe it, apart from obvious top price sellers such as Blue Notes and some other collectable labels, older repressings of collectable records tend to go up in price here too, as do Japanese reissues. Liberty (and similar) pressings of BNs remain lower-priced than earlier deep groove pressings, of course, but considering what they are and ought to be treated like, they look expensive to me. Overall, a lot of older/earlier on labels a bit under the radar as well as Japanese pressings can stil be found in the 30 to 50 euros price bracket but often this still seems too expensive to me for what these records are. And except when foreign collectors come in on one of their buying sprees (like I did in London in the 90s) they seem to sit in the racks for ages at the one local recrod store that still has a huge vinyl section (including jazz). Strangely their stock of swing-era and 40s recordings has diminished considerably in recent times. Maybe those retro-minded lindy hop dancers (there is a small but thriving local scene) do buy vinyl again after all and don't just do CDs and downloads?

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Interesting observations.  Thanks all for the replies.

Another observation:  During the vinyl purge of the 1990s, I remember trying to buy as many as I could among the jazz albums, thinking that others like me were doing likewise, and that it would all dry up in a few years.  If I could have peered 20-25 years into the future and seen many of these same titles readily available for the similarly low prices, I may have been more selective.  

Edited by Teasing

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You were probably smart to buy when you did...you got it newer and had control, of the wear and tear for all that time. 20-25 years is a long time for a record to beliong to somebody else.

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I am actually thinking about another vinyl purge. Not as large as the one I executed in the late 80's, when I gave away my entire collection except for about 10 records, but maybe one where I cut back to a small number of titles that I play often. Vinyl is a pain in the ass. It takes up tons of space (too much for me) and you never know when that next "mint" record will start popping away in the middle of a perfect area of the record.

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I think it very much depends on what you're buying and to a lesser extent where you're buying. I started re-buying vinyl about 5 years ago predominantly to get the ECM titles that had never been CD released. Except for particular titles, often the the first ten or so releases, I could buy most for £10. However I got the bug and in no small part to the "what vinyl are spinning now" thread started buying FMP. Po Torch, Ogun, Incus and other improv/free jazz titles. Buying these I'm spending upwards of £20 on most NM  titles and I will consider £40  and above for something I really want that's in good condition. However an 80s Stanley Cowell LP cost less than £10 inc postage from Italy recently

Analysis of Discogs pricing history does suggest a steady price increase, not many sellers will list below the highest historical price (no surprise there). Ebay is always more costly (unless you're lucky with a no-one else bids listing = £9 for Gil Evans' Parabola felt lucky) and it never fails to amaze me why folk make higher bids that the current Discogs price for equivalent grade LPs, London shops are Discogs and Popsike savvy and prices reflect that fact

Interestingly it would appear anecdotally from posts elsewhere on the board that the prices I'm paying are often higher than US boardees have paid for these titles.

Wherever you are they do take up the room, I agree

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I don't know if what you're paying is always higher - I'm young but have been buying jazz LPs for almost 20 years. Some stuff was expensive then, but a lot of it wasn't nearly as expensive as it is now. So yeah, I may have paid less for X record than you may have, but that might have been in 1997 when certain things were cheaper.

In the mid-1990s you couldn't even find some of these private-press things to pay for them, and the obscure Eurojazz titles were just pipe dreams to anyone who wasn't hitting up Utrecht and boot sales 20+ years ago. Now one can buy them off of Discogs and eBay (still, VERY rarely in stores - that model has changed) but it's going to cost you to do so. It's nice to be in the position to say 'I want to find a copy of this weird record' and be able to write someone, pay them, receive and listen to it. Sure, it would be nice were things $5.99 in 2015, but I'll gladly pay more just to have access to these albums.

Also, when I've sold on Discogs, I've NEVER priced anything at the top of the market. Always hit the middle.

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I'm still getting used to browsing LP racks next to women! Seriously, it's been such a male-dominated hobby for so long. Nice to see a broader section of the population getting excited over records.

So what if they're playing them on some crappy Crosley turntable or just buying them to hang on their walls - to each their own. I'm the guy exchanging good money for free jazz records, so what do I know? :D

I will say this though: if anything ever happened to my records (flood/fire/theft/etc.) I wouldn't start again. It would be financially impossible.

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I'm still getting used to browsing LP racks next to women! Seriously, it's been such a male-dominated hobby for so long. Nice to see a broader section of the population getting excited over records.

So what if they're playing them on some crappy Crosley turntable or just buying them to hang on their walls - to each their own. I'm the guy exchanging good money for free jazz records, so what do I know? :D

I will say this though: if anything ever happened to my records (flood/fire/theft/etc.) I wouldn't start again. It would be financially impossible.

You're not Peter Dunn, are you?

 

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I'm still getting used to browsing LP racks next to women! Seriously, it's been such a male-dominated hobby for so long. Nice to see a broader section of the population getting excited over records.

So what if they're playing them on some crappy Crosley turntable or just buying them to hang on their walls - to each their own. I'm the guy exchanging good money for free jazz records, so what do I know? :D

I will say this though: if anything ever happened to my records (flood/fire/theft/etc.) I wouldn't start again. It would be financially impossible.

You're not Peter Dunn, are you?

 

Nope! But I still come across his inner sleeves (riddled with bible quotes) and the odd LP with his stickers. His stores closed before I got seriously into records. I was too busy at Vortex, Sam's and A&A anyway.

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I will say this though: if anything ever happened to my records (flood/fire/theft/etc.) I wouldn't start again. It would be financially impossible.

Same. There's more to life than "records" or even "objects of aesthetic importance."

That said, I do have 'em insured.

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For the past several years I have been almost exclusively buying used cd's and vinyl.... because I can find stuff pretty inexpensive on Amazon used and new, or at half price books store.  It is pretty even between cd's and vinyl.  So.. my trend is not buying new things.  While I am purchasing a lot, I feel though that I am no longer doing my job in supporting the music industry.  I do buy new CDs when I want to buy something that just came out, but that is relatively infrequent.

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On 22 October 2015 at 04:45:50, peterintoronto said:

Nope! But I still come across his inner sleeves (riddled with bible quotes) and the odd LP with his stickers. His stores closed before I got seriously into records. I was too busy at Vortex, Sam's and A&A anyway.

I've still got a few bought at the Lakeshore Boulevard West store. ECMs !

Q - Where do old ECM LPs go to die?

A - Canada.

I'm buying more CDs than vinyl these days. Not very often I come across anything on vinyl that is reasonably priced and not trashed, to be honest.

Edited by sidewinder

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I will be moving from San Francisco to London in 6 months or so, and I am wondering whether I should get rid of my vinyl collection.  I have 200 or so plus the 3 volumes of Commodore Mosaics.  It is the last items that I am most reluctant to part with.  But given that I am going to one of the few places more expensive (housing wise and others) than SF, the expenses of moving, and the cumbersome nature of vinyl, I am very tempted to just call this vinyl merchant I know in Sacramento and ask him to buy my collection.  

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33 minutes ago, Bol said:

I am very tempted to just call this vinyl merchant I know in Sacramento and ask him to buy my collection.  

If you have the time, you may want to consider putting some of the more desirable titles on eBay, but time is money. 

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On 12/22/2015 at 2:11 PM, Bol said:

I will be moving from San Francisco to London in 6 months or so, and I am wondering whether I should get rid of my vinyl collection.  I have 200 or so plus the 3 volumes of Commodore Mosaics.  It is the last items that I am most reluctant to part with.  But given that I am going to one of the few places more expensive (housing wise and others) than SF, the expenses of moving, and the cumbersome nature of vinyl, I am very tempted to just call this vinyl merchant I know in Sacramento and ask him to buy my collection.  

200 records + 3 Commodores take all of about 4 linear feet. Not that difficult to find room for...if you have friends or family who will store them.

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So I'm on a vacation with the wife and kids on Vancouver Island and I take a brief excursion to supposedly the best record shop in Nanaimo.  The jazz section is admittedly fairly big but upon close inspection it's stacked with reissues and 70s/80s fusiony crap you could not give away yet it's still priced at $8-15.  I'm on my way out and the owner asks me what I'm looking for and I essentially tell him "something good" and he looks up at me with a dour face and says "anything high end I put on eBay; nobody locally will pay what it's worth".  Well that just  defeats the purpose of shopping at a local record store, no?

Yet another reminder that record stores, at least around these parts, are dead.

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2 hours ago, Homefromtheforest said:

So I'm on a vacation with the wife and kids on Vancouver Island and I take a brief excursion to supposedly the best record shop in Nanaimo.  The jazz section is admittedly fairly big but upon close inspection it's stacked with reissues and 70s/80s fusiony crap you could not give away yet it's still priced at $8-15.  I'm on my way out and the owner asks me what I'm looking for and I essentially tell him "something good" and he looks up at me with a dour face and says "anything high end I put on eBay; nobody locally will pay what it's worth".  Well that just  defeats the purpose of shopping at a local record store, no?

Yet another reminder that record stores, at least around these parts, are dead.

That's Fascinating Rhythm? I actually found a Chekasin LP and a Delius/Beecham box set with book when I was there, but otherwise it was as you described. On the bright side, at least their reissues and fusiony crap are cheaper than a certain west side Vancouver record store.

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