November Vinyl

After a bit of a lull in buying for a couple months, this month I purchased about 640 albums.  Six Hundred forty albums!  I started the month buying about 100 albums from a dealer to flip, with about 10 being albums I wanted to listen to and 4 or 5 likely to stay in my collection.  I bought them purely to add to my offerings for the December and January buying months.

 

Then I bought private collections on two successive weeks, each containing about 270 albums.  One was billed at 350 albums, the other at 200, so i paid a little more per album than I thought I was for the first, and did a little better on the other.  Both contained music primarily within the rock and blues area that I like, but had many artists I wasn’t familiar with or that I simply believe will sell.

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Collection #2 from November

Part of what I enjoy about collecting vinyl is the discovery process.  It is primarily why I like to buy entire collections.  From that first collection I bought in November, one of the “discoveries” for me was this Roy Buchanan Album.

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Roy Buchanan – Live Stock

Roy Buchanan sounds like a cross between Bryan Setzer and Eric Clapton.  The track Roy’s Bluz on side 1 is incredible.   I had never heard of this artist, so I looked him up.  Basically, he’s considered one of the best guitarists EVER, but he never had much publicity.  At one point he even stopped playing professionally and went to become a hairdresser until a PBS documentary brought him renewed attention and a new record deal.

The first track on side 2 is Can I Change My Mind, and it is also incredible, but also has a rhythm that reminds me of another song – much newer.  I’m thinking Roy Buchanan probably influenced a lot of people.  And an interesting note for guitarists – his tone was all guitar and amp – no effects pedals until late in his career.  He used the volume and tone knob on his Tele to control changes in tone.   Truly a great find, in my opinion, and one I would not have found looking through a record store.

Between the two collections, there were about 110 albums I wanted to listen to (on top of the other 300 or so waiting in queue).  Since i spent $650 on the two collections, that’s a little under $6.50 per album, which really isn’t too bad considering some of the stuff in that  grouping sells for more than I would pay at this time (or maybe ever).  There were about 60 not worth trying to sell, either due to condition or just lack of popularity.  So there’s about 470 I intend to sell out of the 640.

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About 500 albums waiting to be cleaned.

If I do the math solely on the others that I plan to sell, subtracting the ones I want to listen to and the non-valuable albums, that’s 370 albums for $650.  That works out to about $1.75 each.  I need to sell about 20% of them to make my money back, then the rest are profit, or fuel for other purchases.  Plus I essentially then added the 110 albums to my collection for free.  And realistically, I’ll sell a large portion of the 110 I wanted to listen to once I play them – often upwards of 90% of the albums I listen to I end up selling.   The $650 came from sales of other albums, so basically all my vinyl hobby costs me is some time – and space in the Man Cave.

I can’t see myself spending $20+ on a single record, but many people do.   Which just boggles my mind.  While I may not quickly amass a collection of all my favorites, I am building a nice collection and finding new music at the same time.  I currently have about 250-300 in my “semi-permanent” collection between home and the office.  I’ also apparently offering a small supply of vintage vinyl that is sometimes hard to find.  Many expensive hobbies don’t need to be expensive, if you’re just creative.

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Over $3,000 worth of vinyl for $475

An incredible Saturday 180 gram Vinyl Score!

Ever since I was a kid I would go to garage sales and flea markets with my Nana.  It was always exciting to find something that was an incredible deal, or just something cool for a price that is well below what I’d be willing to pay for it.  It didn’t happen every trip, but the sort of euphoria that I felt when I made a score continues to drive me even today to keep hitting estate sales and flea markets on a regular basis.

Then there’s Craigslist, which is sort of a virtual flea market.  Several times per week I do a quick search for my favorite things:  Film, Cameras, Wine (I haven’t found anything yet, but some day it will pay off), and vinyl records.   The middle of this week, I found a post for vinyl records that seemed like a good deal, even if it was more than I normally pay. It was for 95 albums, including a few box sets.  Some of the albums I was sure were 180g albums, and the listing said they were the original owners of all of the albums.  So I sent an email asking how many were 180 gram pressings.

The reply:  All but a couple, one of which was a 200 gram pressing.  So 95 titles, mostly 180g, some limited release, some box sets.  The asking price of $475 was fair, but I like to feel like I’m getting a deal, so I offered $450.  Now that’s still a lot of cash to drop on records at one time, and some of you might be thinking what my wife said:  “WHAT!?!?  Holy Cow!  That’s a lot of money for records.”  I agree.  But basically I took my money from selling fifteen or so cameras this month and bought albums with the intent of keeping some and selling the rest after I listened to them.

However, my plan fell apart when i went to go pick up the albums.  The seller had neglected to mention one key point:  virtually all the albums are brand new!  Unopened, still in the shrink wrap, never listened to 180 gram vinyl!  For $4.75 an album!  Now I was the one thinking “Holy crap!  What a score!”

The guy was so nice, he threw in the rack they were in, a Blu-ray of the Beatles 1, and a framed original Mott the Hoople album because I offered to come to his house and load them so he wouldn’t have to transport them.   Realizing the incredible deal I was getting, I told the guy i was going to give him his asking price of $475, and he refused a little, but accepted the extra 425.  So i handed over the money and loaded the car.  I immediately called my wife, and she said “maybe you should have paid him more.”

They’re worth more, but I paid they guy what he was asking.  He bought them thinking he’d enjoy collecting vinyl again, and most of them came with a digital download.  He didn’t want to bother with selling them individually.  So he figured this price got rid of the vinyl and he still came out ahead vs buying just the digital.  But I can’t see how that math works, and here’s why: After I pull out the ones I’m thinking of keeping, which is 40 of the 95 albums, I think I’ll still triple my money when i sell the other 55 albums, even after paying selling fees wherever I sell them.  I’ll certainly recoup the $475 rather quickly.  If I find any of these are not sealed, I’ll throw them into my listening queue.

Then i considered how much it would cost me to buy the 40 albums I’m considering keeping:  $1067 from Amazon. More from Music Direct if they’re available; the Cream box set is $200 on it’s own.   Some of these were $50 and $75 albums I drooled over from Music Direct, but couldn’t bring myself to spend the money for one album. One of them i almost bought at B&N last week:  Mumford & Sons Sigh No More.  I’m listening to it as I type this, and I’ll essentially be getting it for free if you ignore the opportunity cost of not selling it.

I’m not going to list every album that was in the lot, but here’s what I decided to pull to contemplate if I want to keep it or at least listen to it before selling it.

  • Mumford & Sons Sigh No More
  • Cream 1966-1972, which is a box set of  all 6 Cream albums
  • Black Sabbath Paranoid
  • Black Sabbath
  • Black Sabbath Master of Reality
  • Black Sabbath Bloody Sabbath on Red Vinyl
  • Black Sabbath Vol. 4 on orange Vinyl
  • T. Rex Electric Warrior
  • Frank Zappa apostrophe (*)
  • Neil Young Harvest
  • Jefferson Airplane Volunteers
  • Them Crooked Vultures (just opened and now playing as I write – It’s a double album!)
  • ZZ Top Tres Hombres
  • Neil Young After the Gold Rush
  • Van Halen
  • Neil Young Crazy Horse at the Fillmore 1970
  • Hozier
  • Clutch Psychic Warfare
  • The Beatles Help!
  • The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • The Beatles “White Album”
  • The Beatles Abbey Road
  • The Beatles Revolver
  • Deep Purple Machine Head
  • Grand Funk Closer to Home
  • Grand Funk We’re an American Band
  • Free Fire and Water
  • The Rolling Stones Hot Rocks 1964-1971
  • Paul McCartney and Wings Band on the Run
  • Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick
  • Jethro Tull Aqualung
  • Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland
  • Derek and the Dominoes Layla
  • The Doors Strange Days
  • The Doors Morrison Hotel
  • The Doors LA Woman
  • The Doors Waiting for the Sun
  • The Doors
  • Eric Clapton Slow Hand 35th Anniversary edition
  • Eric Clapton 461 Ocean Boulevard Limited edition
  • Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced
  • The Best of Procol Harum

All but the last four I think are 180 gram pressings.  The last two are definitely not, and only the Procol Harum and Grand Funk’s American Band album are open as far as i can tell, because in addition to being new, they’re also in protective sleeves!  Some are special editions, like LA Woman and Band on the Run each being 2 LP offerings when the originals were only one album.

Oh, wow!  I just took We’re an American Band out of the sleeve:  It’s 180 gram gold translucent vinyl!  I’m loving listening to it as well – never heard the entire album before.  Creepin is an awesome song.

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When I add it all up, this was over $3,000 worth of vinyl.  It also adds up to me keeping over $1,000 worth of vinyl for free.  I just can’t figure out why nobody else was on this posting.  One guy apparently offered the seller $100, and another guy wanted them shipped to San Francisco.   I just feel fortunate to have been in the right frame of mind to look at the post, and admittedly I was shocked they were mostly unopened when i arrived to pick them up, but this was still a great deal.  This may be the score of the year for me, and definitely my best lot since I picked up 150 or so vintage albums last June, of which i still have about 30 to listen to!

If I keep all 40 of the albums I’ve pulled from this score, my personal collection is at around 175 albums counting those that are at the office.   Considering at least 3,000 have passed through my basement since I started last spring, that’s not a high percentage of keepers.  I also didn’t listen to all of them, but I’m probably close to 1,000 that I have listened too, simply because I sold a lot of 1200 and a lot of about 700 that hadn’t been listened to simply to make space.  Also – about 10% of my collection are Beatles albums, and it gets more skewed if we count solo albums from the Beatles.

 

Every so often, somebody will tell me I’m lucky.  Lucky to find the cameras if find, or the albums, or the whatever it is I bring home.  While there was definitely a component of luck involved, most days that I’m searching for deals I find nothing.  There are weekends of hitting estate sales where we come home with nothing.  Sometimes I can hit a dozen garage sales and find a few books in total.  We spent nearly a year looking for the right buffet for the dining room.  It reminds me of the old quote “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”   So while I don’t ever expect to replicate my finds like the Hasselblad in June or this latest vinyl score, I’ll keep working hard at uncovering the next great deal.

Others tell me I’m lucky to have had the career and the experiences I’ve had.  I firmly believe my diligence and persistence creates most of my luck.  Consider this vinyl score:  it has been 16 months in the making, developing the awareness and knowledge of what these titles were and what they were worth when nobody else on Craigslist seemed to see it, as well as routinely checking Craigslist for postings.

Good luck to you in uncovering a great score of your own.  Start working now, and start improving your luck.