It must be one of the most common questions that I get asked. How much are my records worth? It sounds like a pretty simple question right? Not necessarily valuing a single record or a whole collection can be a pretty complex task. There really are a large number of things to take into consideration to be able to get to a valuation. This article will look at a number of these factors that need to be considered to enable you to put some sort of value on your vinyl records here in the UK. I will also provide some links below to some really great sites that can also help you value your vinyl records.
1. Is there a demand for the records that I own?
Ok the first real thing to consider is very simple. Is there a demand for the vinyl records in my collection? The market for vinyl records has changed over time, but in general there is a great demand for Rock, Punk, Soul, Reggae, Jazz, Heavy Metal. If your records fall into these genres it’s going to be easy to find buyers for them. Demand isn’t limited to those genres though there are more specialist markets in Classical, Musicals and Rock N Roll. These genres can have significant demand. Sometimes it takes a bit more effort to track down the collectors or dealers that specialise in these areas.
The area where there is very limited demand is in the Easy Listening Big Band music. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Grandma collection”. I receive lists every week sometimes with hundreds of titles on. It’s near on impossible to sell these even though they are often in immaculate condition. So the first thing to try and work out is Is there a demand for the records that I own. You can check out my What we buy Page which will show some examples of genres and artists that ARE in demand in the current market.
2. What are the issues of my Vinyl Records?
Many vinyl records can be issued multiple times over a period of many years. Take the Beatles as a great example. They originally issued their LP’s in the 1960’s, there were then re-runs as early as 1969, many issues through the 1970’s and 1980’s and then even special anniversary issues in the 1990’s right up to present day. The issue of the record can have a significant impact on the value that it holds.
Let’s take the Beatles White album as an example. This is a great one to use because it has a number stamped to the front of the first issues so you can see how drastic the price varies. The first four copies of the White album were issued to the Beatles themselves (they were stamped 1,2,3,4). Ringo had number one and sold it in 2015 for $790,000 US dollars. So that was the 1st ever issue, now fast forward and most people with an original will have a number in the 100’s of thousands, potentially worth around £200. Move forward another decade or two and you bought a 1980’s issue and you are looking at a value of £30-£40. See the dramatic drop in price. The Beatles are a good example here, but this is true for many many records and bands.
How to Identify the issue of my Vinyl Records
How to identify the issue of your record can be quite complex. It can vary from colours on the labels, to matrix numbers etched in the deadwax. You can’t rely on the date on the record or sleeve. It’s not unusual to be having a discussion with someone who swears they have a first issue Beatles record, but looking at the colour of the label I know 100% it isn’t. They will say, “but it has 1967 on the sleeve so it must be 1st issue”, I ask them to look at the CD they have which also shows 1967 and remind them that CD’s weren’t around in 1967! The best resource for working out the issue of your record is Discogs.com . Click the link it shows you the Beatle Please Please me with nearly 600 different worldwide issue. Potentially all with different values!!
3. What’s the condition of my Vinyl Records?
This is a really major factor in valuing your vinyl records and will catch so many people out believing they have very valuable records when actually the condition will drop the price so far they can sometimes be unsellable! In the UK most record dealers work with the Record Collector Grading system which has 7 tiers. Ranging from Mint through to Bad. In most cases the top 3 levels are what sells, once you get down to a Good grading prices drop dramatically. It’s important to note here that although the condition of the vinyl is very important so is the sleeve and any of it’s inserts. damage to sleeves will also have an impact on the value of your collection.
Let’s take a quick example of how a records price drops according to the guide. So a mint record valued at £500, becomes a £400 record in excellent condition and only a £250 record in Very good condition. This drops to £15.00 in Bad condition. That’s some serious drop in price. Grading of records can also be vary depending on where you are selling so Discogs uses a USA grading system. Which ever system you use though condition is so important to the value of your vinyl records.
4. Do I have the original Added Inserts/Posters etc?
Many records when originally released came with lyric inserts and sometimes posters and other odd inserts (Alice cooper School’s Out cam with a pair of free Panties!) These added inserts can have a serious impact on the value of your vinyl record collection. Often these inserts go missing, get pinned up on walls with sticky tape etc. Sometimes the inserts are actually worth more than the record on it’s own. Think of The Who’s Sell Out the included poster is probably worth four times as much as the record. Or Black sabbaths Master of Reality again the poster adds considerable value to the record. See Picture below of the Master of Reality Poster.
5. What’s The Scarcity of my Vinyl Records?
Another big impact on the value of your vinyl records is the scarcity factor. Scarce records are also generally more forgiving on the condition. You can still sell a very scarce record for a good price in not so great condition. The value of more common records, in my opinion, plummets far quicker as the condition deteriorates than the rare ones.
What makes a record scarce though? Lets use one of the biggest selling albums of all time as a great example. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon sold over 45 million copies. There is though a very scarce (rare) first issue of this as pictured above where the triangle on the centre label was coloured in. They quickly realised that you couldn’t read the tracks and changed the triangle to an outline. The solid triangle sells for around £500 the outline triangle perhaps more around the £25-£30 mark. The solid blue triangle may have only sold a thousand or so copies so scarcity makes it more valuable.
In the 1960’s most of the earlier 1960’s Lp’s sold in Mono around 1966/67 even numbers of Mono and Stereo records were sold and in the late 1960’s most were sold in Stereo. So another great example is the very first issue from 1963 of Please Please Me by the Beatles, it’s worth so much more in Stereo than Mono. One simple reason scarcity, hardly any were sold in Stereo. Move forward 6 years and look at yellow submarine. This sold way more in Stereo than Mono. Which ones worth more… Mono. Again scarcity is what pushed the value up.
Many other genres of music scarcity can play a big part in value. Look at all the DIY punk singles that were only issued as gigs and now sell for £100’s . 1970’s prog rock is a great example. Yes there’s great demand for Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd etc, but some of the most valuable records from this era hardly sold at all. .
6. Do I have any promotional items /Acetates / Autographs?
This really ties in with the scarcity factor mentioned above. Promotional copies of records can be worth a lot more, as can acetates and signed records. But the value still all links in with the above mentioned factors. You have to have demand. Unfortunately your signed one off Gary Glitter acetate that he signed is really not going to be worth much! I’m not going to talk too much about promotional items /acetates and autographs as they can really vary depending on the individual items, but they are worth looking out for in your collection.
7. How do I want to sell my Vinyl Records?
Selling your records individually
This is another very overlooked factor when choosing to sell your record collection or even a single record. If you have a record collecting friend who is going to pay the top price for each record that you have then you might be able to realise every ounce of potential that your collection has. However this is rarely the case and many peoples motivation will be to clear some space from a loft or spare room.
It really is the case that if you have all the time to put into selling your records individually you will reap more of the financial value, but this can take a lot of time. I sell a reasonable amount on ebay, but whether ebay or discogs or any other online sales platform there is work to do. You’ll need to clean the records, take photos of the records, work out what issue you have of the record and also grade the record in line with the platform you are using. You also need to purchase packaging material to make sure the records don’t get damaged in transit.
That’s a lot of work, but if you are prepared to do it how does this effect the value. Well most selling platforms will charge fees to sell. If you use paypal you will also have fees. You also need to factor in any problems like refunds or missing items in the post. In my business I allocate around 15-20% of my sales price towards these overheads. So your record that you have sold for £100 may only be around £80.00 in your pocket.
If you are starting out on these platforms you will also need to build trust with your customers before you can achieve the top market value. So selling individually if you have time will potentially reap the biggest reward, but you really do need to give it time.
Auction your records
Another avenue you might consider is selling your records at an auction house. Possibly a good combination of being able to achieve a high price without all the work. You might be right, but there are still fees here that will be charged for you selling the item. Probably more importantly are the fees that will be charged to the winning bidder. These can be as high as 20% so the winning bidder does need to factor this when bidding. Again it’s all an impact of the value of your record collection.
Selling your records in Bulk
Of course being a record dealer I’m used to buying my collections in bulk. Yes I may offer prices for certain items, but generally it’s one price offered for the whole collection. When buying large collections most record dealers and shops will offer around half of what they can re-sell for. So if you are selling in bulk you can reduce the work load, but you will reduce the value you can achieve of your record collection.
8. Myths around selling your record collection
Q. I have old records they are worth money. What will you pay?
A. Not all records that are old are worth money. They need to meet some of the criteria set out above.
Q. My records worth £3,000 because someone is selling it for that on Amazon, Ebay etc
A. It’s likely that your record is not worth this amount. You will need to check the issue, the condition of your record and compare it to the one for sale. Most importantly have you found the record for sale or actually sold at that price. I could find records in five minutes on ebay /Amazon etc that are so wildly over priced they really will never sell, You need to check actual sales of your record to get a more accurate idea of value.
I had one example of exactly this where I was shown the record for sale on Amazon for £3,000. I offered £250 as I knew I could re-sell at around £400-£500. I left it with the seller. One month later I bought that record for £250.00.
It’s also worth remembering that when a record fetches a huge amount of money the seller is nearly always a professional record dealer with a massive client base and who has worked for years to build up trust. The customer buying a very expensive record will trust that the seller knows how to grade the vinyl correctly and also package it well for postage. It is very unlikely that you would break records on the value front selling just a few records online.
Q. I have original Beatles Records am I rich?
A. Probably not. Yes some Beatles records can be worth a lot of money, but probably 80% of Beatles records that I see have been played a lot and the value of Beatles records in particular drops so quickly when they have surface marks. Still sellable yes, enough to retire on? Probably not!
Q. I don’t want to sell my records to a dealer. You’ll get ripped off. They pay pennies!
A. EXCUSE ME! I am of course a record dealer. I will never offer pennies for record collections. Firstly if the offer was to be that low I wouldn’t want to buy them anyway. Record dealers and shops are running a business we need to make a profit. Yes some will be more generous than others. Some may want to pay more for specific genres that they specialise in. Some will be fussier around condition, but if you have desirable records for sale we will want to pay as much as we possibly can for them. I think it’s important to understand the overheads involved in selling on vinyl records and also the amount of work that needs to be done. My motto is that I want to make the process as easy for you as possible whilst being able to offer the best prices. Of course my offers aren’t always accepted, but i’ll give it my best shot and if you aren’t happy with the offer I am always able to offer advice on how you can sell them individually yourself.
Conclusion – How much are my vinyl records really worth?
Pulling all of the above together it’s clear that valuing your vinyl record collection can be quite a task as there is a lot to consider. It’s having the right combination of the above attributes in your collection that will really help your value increase. As a Record Dealer I love seeing record collections in genres that are in high demand, in beautiful condition and with a few ….(well more merrier) rare/scarce records in them.
It also really important to consider how you want to sell your record collection. There really can be potentially two different values on a record collection. One is the individual selling value and the other is the bulk selling value. What ever type of collection you have I am always keen for you to get in touch. Of course I may want to buy your record collection, but I’m also happy to just offer some advice and options as to what you could do with it depending on your circumstances. Please do get in touch with me here.
Some useful Links to help you Value your record collection
- Discogs.com – A great site to see what others are selling there records for and also High/Average/Low Prices. Also great for identifying the issue of the record that you have.
- Record Collector Grading System – Mainly used in the UK as the guide to describing the condition of a record.
- Popsike.com – This is a site that has all the vinyl record auctions that have ended on ebay. Great resource for valuing your vinyl, but will want you to pay after a few free searches.