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Vintage Vinyl Is Hot

Posted by James Duncan on

Is it about the occasional crackle and pop that lends a nostalgic note to your day? Maybe the liner notes and photos you can actually see? How you can hold it in your hand?

Record chart

Whether it's nostalgia for the records they used to listen to in their youth or the sound and feel, vinyl is big with music buyers and continues to get bigger. 

The burgeoning return of vinyl record sales has been well-documented in recent years. The RIAA reported in their 2021 year end recap that vinyl record sales grew 61% over 2020 and, in their 2022 mid-year report, vinyl continued its' upward trend, rising to a full 73% of the physical music products market.

This caps a 15+ year trend with vinyl becoming the clear favorite if a music consumer wants a physical music product. There is no doubt that streaming composes the lion's share of music consumption today, despite the drawback in audio quality with most versions of it. However, among physical, vinyl is back on top.

Speaking of quality, it's worth noting that the CD is, without a doubt, the highest quality audio format ever offered to consumers on a mass basis, but it just doesn't hold the appeal that vinyl does for many consumers.

record playing

MusicWatch survey of 1,400 U.S. music consumers found that 18 million consumers over the age of 13 bought records in 2021.

Another interesting phenomenon in the music market is the strong demand for vintage vinyl, in other words copies of records pressed when they were first released as opposed to later pressings or reissues. The MusicWatch survey found that 71% of those who bought vinyl over the past two years purchased new records. However, of the same surveyed group, 67% reported buying used LPs.

Beatles Sgt Pepper promo copy

While a collector market has always existed for vintage vinyl, more and more buyers are appearing on the scene to capture an original copy of classic releases. Two such examples of coveted vintage albums are the Beatles Sgt. Pepper and "White Album," both of which are setting record prices for early copies.

Not all copies of these albums bring premium prices of course, since the sheer number sold means there are a ton in the marketplace. However, there are some stunning examples of high values out there for rarities. 

The White Album has been an easy one for collectors to value: The lower the number, the higher the value. Of course, copies 0000001-0000004 had the extra boost of being owned by a Beatle. Ringo Starr's copy, which was also special in that it was #0000001, sold for $790,000 at auction in 2015.

Sgt. Pepper came out in many versions, from mono to stereo, promo copies ranging from gold stamped to hole-punched versions, and many more including even a version made for Capitol executives for which the album art was altered to feature their faces. Perry Cox has written an excellent guide entitled Price Guide for the Beatles American Records to help untangle the maze of all Beatles U.S. records ever released, although it contains somewhat dated price estimates since the most recent edition of the book was released in 2007.  

Beatles Sgt Pepper promo copy


Stepping back out of the stratosphere of vintage Beatles record values, even records from artists arriving in the 80s and 90s are starting to gain in value, probably as the populations that consumed those records at the time develop their own nostalgia and have more disposable income. Sealed copies are top of the list in terms of the vinyl garnering the best sale prices, with promo copies, and records in excellent condition following.

The takeaway? Hold on to your vintage vinyl, you might find it's worth something more than you paid one day. Better yet, pull it out and enjoy it, pops, crackles, warmth, liner notes, and all!

Did you know? MusicGoldmine has a curated collection of vintage vinyl, cassettes, CDs, box sets and even other collectible music media such as Mini-Discs. You can check out the section on our website here, or for even more selection check out our new MusicGoldmine eBay "Record Store" here

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