How to Know If Your Vinyl Collection Is Really Worth the Money
No matter how hard they tried, the killers and technophiles of the world simply couldn’t kill vinyl records. Every time a new audio technology hit the market, the death of vinyl was predicted, and when the CD came out 40 years ago, it seemed like that death had finally arrived. Who wouldn’t want perfect digital clarity instead of the fussy, popping and hissing sound of vinyl?
As it turned out, a lot of people. A record 41.7 million vinyl albums were sold in 2021 . Vinyl is actually the best-selling physical music format right now. And it’s not just grouchy middle-aged music lovers – Gen Zers and millennials buy a lot of vinyl records. Vinyl’s enduring popularity means that many people have amassed huge record collections, and some of these collections are worth a lot of money.
If you’re sitting in a house filled with vinyl albums, you might wonder if you’re also sitting on a goldmine if you could dedicate yourself to streaming, sell your records, and retire. Answer: maybe? Vinyl records can be very valuable – a few years ago, Ringo Starr sold his personal copy of The Beatles , also known as the White Album , for a whopping $790,000. Most records won’t be that valuable, but your record collection can definitely be worth something. Here’s how you can figure out if you’re going to retire with all that vinyl.
What types of vinyl records are valuable?
It’s worth noting that the record-breaking money Starr received for The Beatles comes with a few caveats. First, the provenance: it was Starr’s personal copy, the man who literally helped make the recording. He reportedly kept it in a safe for decades, so it was in perfect condition. And it had the catalog number 0000001 on it, which meant it was the first printed copy. And this is a famous, famous record of a famous, famous band. So, if you don’t have records that are as conscientious in your collection, chances are your records are worth a lot less.
The most valuable vinyl records are rock and roll, blues, soul, jazz and country, usually in descending order. So your obscure 1960s film footage may be of little more than curious value. As a practical test, keep in mind that the average selling price of old vinyl records on eBay, for example, is only $15.
What makes a vinyl record more valuable? Assuming the record belongs to one of the above genres and is in good condition, there are a few things to look out for:
- With an autograph. An autographed record is more valuable because you are doubling the market for it: both record collectors and autograph lovers will be willing to pay for it. However, there must be an authentication certificate, otherwise no one will buy it.
- Rarity. The harder it is to find a copy of this record, the more collectors will pay for it. Do you have a copy of Frank Wilson’s “Do I Love You” on disc 45 (of which only six were ever released and only two are known to survive and only one is in play)? You can get $100,000 for it . Records that have been taken off the market, have had their cover changed, or are weird special editions, tend to be more valuable as well.
- Sealed. If a vinyl record is already valuable, sealing it in original plastic will also increase its value, because in the world of collecting, things are apparently not meant to be enjoyed.
If you’re a normal person who actually played their records, you might still have money in the closet that you turned into a vinyl library. Here’s how to understand it.
How to find out how much your vinyl records are worth
The easiest and most reliable way to estimate the value of your records is to hire an appraiser. You can find a professional appraiser through the American Association of Appraisers or the American Society of Appraisers . An official appraisal for insurance purposes will be expensive and thorough, but you can also ask an appraiser to estimate a fair market value, which is less “official” but gives you a good idea of how much your records might be worth.
If you don’t want to go through these hassles and expenses, you can estimate the value of your vinyl yourself. It’s a bit of work, but if you hit the gold it might be worth it. Here’s how to do it:
- Review your notes. This may seem obvious, but find a well-lit area and study your notes individually. Pay attention to the overall condition – there is a standard way of defining this, called the Goldmine standard , which you should follow when classifying your entries as “New”, “Almost New”, “Very Good Plus”, “Very Good”, “Good Plus”, “Good”, “Satisfactory” or “Poor”. Keep in mind that even records in good condition cost only about 15 percent of what a Mint version would cost, while records in good or bad condition cost next to nothing.
- Check out the release notes. The vinyl records have release and catalog information, which is important information. A notable example here is Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon which spent a record 917 weeks on the Billboard charts . Over the years, the album has gone through about 400 vinyl editions. The fresher the pressing, the less valuable it is.
- Database conference. Record collectors have been hoarding their precious records for decades, so it’s no wonder there are online databases that provide a decent guide to how much a particular vinyl record is worth. Discogs and Popsike are good places to start, and eBay sells enough used vinyl records to give you an idea of market value. These estimates are not perfect, but they are good rough estimates.
When we think of vinyl record collections, we tend to focus on the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, but if you inherited a bunch of Johnny Ray 45s from your parents or you have old blues 78s from the 1920s ‘s, you can still sit on them. a goldmine (1920s Charlie Patton recordings can be worth $20,000 depending on condition), so don’t discount them.