An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

How much is it worth?

Congratulations to Elizabeth who won the Cocteau Twins Italian 7” single of Pearly Dewdrops Drops. Watch this space as there may be more to come, seeing as I still keep buying releases twice!

There are changes in record collecting, and there have been interesting changes in 4AD collecting over the past couple of years. A couple of years ago, if you searched on ebay worldwide for “4AD”, there used to be on average 3 to 4 hundred pieces for sale. Now if you search for the same thing there can easily be 1500. In fact, a search done today returned 3741 items for sale. Smarter sellers are realising the best key words to use when adding an item on ebay.

This is probably a reflection on record selling online everywhere. There seems to be a myth that any vinyl, no matter how awful the music is, is collectable. I’m constantly finding the average middle aged couple has a couple of boxes of vinyl stuck up in their loft. When I ask why they are in the loft, they all seem to think that they are worth something and one day they will get around to selling them for a vast fortune.

Of course anyone who collects vinyl will know that the vast majority of vinyl is practically worthless. In the scheme of art collections around the world, vinyl is a poor mans hobby. The most valued item I can think of is the Quarrymen’s (The Beatles before they became The Beatles) single “That’ll be the day” of which only one (the original) exists and is owned by Paul McCartney. This has been valued at about £250,000. That sounds a lot of money, but this is the one single rarity that most likely dictates the value of all vinyl values below it. Very rare Beatles vinyl that was on general release fetch a couple of thousand pounds. Your average 1963 “Please Please Me” album will, if in really good condition, fetch £20 to £100. If your album is a late 1963 release then the value has fallen to half of this. This is the most famous in the world, and your original album from 1963 may not even be worth £10. Yet the myth prevails that your dusty and moldy set of Bay City Rollers LP’s will fetch a healthy sum when it comes to selling them!

Sorry, but it’s not going to happen. Many folk are really shocked and disappointed when they find out how little their vinyl is worth. This myth is probably not helped by the marketers on ebay. I’ve mentioned before how the same single can be purchased for £1 and can also be found for sale at £30. I believe the professional market purposely has some stock over inflated in price, knowing it will never sell, but helps push the average price of a release up. This is also why there are so many items for sale as many items are overpriced tactical additions. Right now there is a Pixies Doolittle German LP on a buy it now price of 133.48 Euros??!! This shouldn’t be any more than 20 Euros at the most. It must be gold plated!

The market is on the up. Values are going up. There was even suggestion to investment bankers a year ago to look into music collections as a viable alternative to wine and gold. Music does have a fickle following though and the popularity of music’s followers determines the value of any music’s collection pieces. In 20 years, there may be no market at all, as the general public loses any interest in the physical value of music. If that happens the value of collection pieces will hit rock bottom.

So why am I collecting if what I collect could be worth nothing in time? As signs are showing recently of a trend in a disinterest in the physical release of an album or single, I believe an intended experience by artists and bands to enjoy a full package including the covers, books and anything included within it, will be lost. This will be a diminished experience as a set of MP3’s will be just a small portion of the intended piece of art. This full experience needs to be preserved. I think this also includes how the same art was packaged for different audiences and countries.

I hope that the trend reverses and people see more the worth of a physical product. But this isn’t helped by the industry, that will obviously make lots more profit out of a download file than a fully produced CD.

The market is changing, which way it will go is anybody’s guess

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