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The Vinyl Bubble

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The Vinyl Bubble

Postby simmo on Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:22 am

This article in The Wire expresses some concerns about the current vinyl boom which I've been worrying about but struggling to voice coherently.

The essence of the argument is that both the monetary and personal value of vinyl as an artefact are a risk due to 1) a flood of ersatz, "limited edition" releases designed to milk mugs for their money - they'll eventually resent it enough to stop buying; 2) Ebay speculators investing in and selling desirable releases at inflated prices; and 3) the mistaking of core vinyl buyers for "super fans".

What do you reckon? Are we reaching saturation point? Is the price of vinyl exorbitant? Is there too much shit out there in the market? Will people stop buying?
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby Major on Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:27 am

Semi-Kerble but I do think this is deserving of its own thread.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby elisha wiesner on Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:37 am

Interesting article and I totally get the baseball card comparison. As a kid I loved baseball cards. When I was 10-13 I had an after school job at a small local store. Me and two other kids worked 3 afternoons a week stocking shelves, cleaning the parking lot etc.... I think I got payed like $2.50/hr. I saved some of this but probably bought 10 packs of cards a week, and at $.35/pack, it was really easy to do. I didn't keep them in pristine condition or anything, I just loved baseball and the cards were a part of that. I liked reading the stats, seeing what teams dudes had played for and I was always excited to get someone on the Red Sox. I think the packs came with at least 15 cards, so my chances of getting someone on the Sox were pretty good. As I grew out of it I still continued to buy a pack of Topps cards every year, just to see what the new ones looked like and I remember when all of the sudden, the price for a pack was insane and there were only like 7 cards in the pack. I haven't bought a pack since and can't imagine that kids today are spending their after school job money on these things. So yeah, I totally get that aspect of the collector market ruining something good and agree that some kid with a shitty hand me down turntable, a half working receiver and crappy speakers should be able to get an affordable copy of Nevermind, without having to shell out $30 for a delux, 180g, gatefold limited edition copy.

I never fully made the switch to cd's or tapes and have bought vinyl since, well, basically right after I stopped spending my after school money on baseball cards. If it was available on vinyl, that was the format I bought it on. As a kid, new records were the same price as tapes and were cheaper than the new fangled CD's and used vinyl was everywhere cheap. I think that spending $75 on a single LP is insane and I would never do it but I have been happily shelling out $18 for the awesome Hendrix re-issues, which blow away the old pressings.

I guess I'm just so far out of the loop with current stuff to really know if there is a bubble or not but I assume, like everything else where there are speculators involved, there will be some sort of crash or market correction and some shitheads will be stuck with worthless piles of Southern Lord LP's, or whatever people are speculating on these days, that they thought were going to keep going up in value. Over half of the albums I buy are used and the new stuff I buy is usually readily available either online or at my local store at fair prices so I don't really see this effecting me.

One last thing; the whole limited edition, fake collector market thing is nothing new. Labels like Taang have been doing it since the 80's and I'm sure people were doing it before them. All of their shit would come out on more expensive, limited edition colored vinyl and even limited colored cassettes. They would throw an extra song on the cd and maybe a different extra song on the cassette etc...
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby 154 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:55 am

I had a pretty good baseball card collection starting from the mid-80s on (also including some of my brother's 70s cards.) I put them away for a 'rainy day'. I dug 'em out in the mid-2000s when my parents moved out of that house, bought a current Beckett, and learned that cards that were once worth $30 were now worth around $2.50. I would have been lucky to get $50 for the whole box so I just tossed them..

Fortunately, I just by records for the music. All of the cool labels used to sell their LPs for $8 or $9 versus $12 for the CD. Now it's the opposite so I mostly buy CDs or downloads. I'll pay $18 for stuff I really care about like the new Wire ('limited' hand-numbered edition of 3,000.. haha!) but that's pretty rare. Some new metal band with a 44 minute long, compressed-to-shit album selling their gatefold 180g marble vinyl for $20? No thanks.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby Ranxerox on Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:46 pm

Doesn't seem important. People will make music, some of which I will like and, once recorded, possess in this format or that. I will also consume live music regularly so long as there is music that I like and I can draw breath.

Baseball cards didn't die because of the speciality market, they died because too many cards became available to too few people while part of the prior market, kids, got iced out. Vinyl is rare from the get go, but the music is everywhere. People make the music for much different reasons than Topps, Fleer, Upper Deck, etc., made baseball cards. Good music gets made all the time and relatively little of it is made with economic sustenance in mind. Low run numbers of vinyl make sense since most people moved on from LPs to CDs and now to MP3s. Making some hay in the specialty market of vinyl, speculating therein, is not creating an artificial interest that, when dissipated, will kill all interest in limited run releases.

I don't know about superfans, i.e., completists who seek out the products of specific artists or labels, but 'true' fans will always get some service and the music will be available in this format and that.

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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby punch_the_lion on Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:42 pm

simmo wrote:What do you reckon? Are we reaching saturation point? Is the price of vinyl exorbitant? Is there too much shit out there in the market? Will people stop buying?


I know it's a niche market, the costs to press vinyl and overhead, but it still can be obscenely expensive. $89.99 for Neil Young's last one on Amazon? Kind of ridiculous. I don't even care about limited edition rip-offs , I just want the music. I wouldn't mind replacing all of my CD's with vinyl versions, but it would cost a small fortune.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby geiginni on Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:58 pm

I refuse to pay a premium for one man's preferred non-linearities, to another man's preferred non-linearities. I demand price parity for any inherently flawed medium.

But seriously. I stopped buying vinyl when the pricing parity disappeared.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby Bill Swansea on Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:44 pm

What always riles me in all honesty is record companies releasing double albums for records that don't last longer than 50 minutes.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby enframed on Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:46 pm

I don't know about the comparison to baseball cards, but I agree with a lot of the article. As noted, many bands and labels were doing ltd. ed. stuff even in the 80s and 90s, so this is nothing new to those of us who have bought records since the 70s, and for those who got involved recently, well, it's all they've ever known. There is probably a higher percentage of "ltd. ed." though I also think in many cases it's pure marketing. For a small band on a small label to call a run of 3,000 copies "limited edition" is kind of ridiculous.

I definitely think that prices have gotten out of control, a perfect example being how reasonable the Jesus Lizard's recent re-issues were priced. Some small labels are still selling LPs for between $10-12. I know people probably aren't getting rich manufacturing records, but please try to put out a good product, especially if you're gonna charge $20 for it. And as long as I'm ranting, fuck gatefold covers unless it's a double LP, and even then it isn't necessary. Make a cover, make a note sheet, and lower the price by whatever that would save.

I also think that more care needs to be put into the actual manufacturing of vinyl records, in the US anyway. I don't think I've ever had a record made in the UK that had any good amount of other than surface noise, not so American made records, which I would guess that in 25% of the cases have too much noise in the form of ticks and pops.

$37 for a Slayer re-issue LP? Fuck off.

Yeah, there's a bubble, for sure.
Last edited by enframed on Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby enframed on Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:48 pm

Bill Swansea wrote:What always riles me in all honesty is record companies releasing double albums for records that don't last longer than 50 minutes.


Or the three-sided LP with etching on side four. Fuck off.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby Anthony Flack on Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:54 pm

Just thought I'd mention again that The Chills have a new limited edition vinyl out. The asking price is SIX AND A HALF THOUSAND DOLLARS.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby alex maiolo on Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:01 pm

This is hard to respond to across the board.

On one hand you have releases that sound shitty, aren't mastered properly, and aren't pressed to high quality vinyl. The only value they have is to fill the collector's niche, supply you with a download code, and for sorting seeds if it's a gatefold.

On the other hand you have bands releasing super high quality records on beautiful vinyl, which sounds wonderful. One of my guilty pleasure albums is Mew's "No More Stories." I saw it on vinyl when I was in Denmark and bought it for $20. I've enjoyed it $100 worth already. They released it as a double so they didn't have to jam it all on one slab, and lose fidelity. They pressed it to 180 gram. It really does sound fantastic.

Vinyl is for fetishists (both kinds of vinyl, I guess, but I'm talking music here). I see no point in buying something on vinyl "just because" anymore. It's not the best delivery format. It's only for the "experience." I don't know if I need to experience the new Tame Impala record. It's great, but it wasn't made to be listened to in this way, and every aspect of it is digital. CD's and MP3's are just fine. In my example, Mew strived for fidelity, and while it may have been recorded in PT, every single step was taken on the way to the computer to ensure perfect sound.

So for records I want to experience, I love vinyl, assuming the band was on board for giving me that experience, and didn't just press some WAV files to a slab made out of dinosaur juice. The sound, the ritual, the art - everything we love about our favorite records, that makes it worth it, and it's nice to get the MP3's as well so I don't have to buy it again to listen to it in my car (or deal with ripping it).

Let's not forget that a whoooooole lot of flimsy, poorly pressed vinyl was released in The Golden Era, and CD's were a better alternative than that, in my opinion. So snatching up a copy of some album you kind of like, just because it' on vinyl, whether it's a new release, or it's a classic, makes no sense to me unless you're going to pull it out the way people do with the good china when the guests come. The quality, and an occasion, are the reason.

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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby Kyle Motor on Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:04 pm

enframed wrote:Yeah, there's a bubble, for sure.


The bubble gets closer to bursting with every dollar-bin filler LP that gets a 180g deluxe reissue.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby elisha wiesner on Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:13 pm

enframed wrote:
Bill Swansea wrote:What always riles me in all honesty is record companies releasing double albums for records that don't last longer than 50 minutes.


Or the three-sided LP with etching on side four. Fuck off.


I get annoyed by it as well but to be fair, 50 minutes is pretty long for an LP and even if each side was exactly 25 minutes, compromises in sound quality would be inevitable to make it fit. A good mastering engineer can minimize these compromises but there is no question that they will be there. Bands just need to make shorter albums.

Silkworm is re-releasing Libertine as a double album. The sides are really long on the original single LP version and even though the original sounds great, I'm certain that the 2xLP re-issue is not intended to screw over the 500 people who are going to buy it but was done to issue it with the best sound quality possible.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby alex maiolo on Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:30 pm

Exactly, EW. If people want vinyl, give them the best quality vinyl so they can have their experience.

Is $37 a screw job for a record? Probably, but don't buy it then. The people who do buy it do so for any number of reasons. People pay $50-100 for a stupid manga doll, so if they want to collect the record, fine. Don't think $37 is fair for a Slayer record, no problem, the CD is the same price it ever was.

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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby 154 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:34 pm

Yep. You can probably kiss any real low-end goodbye with sides over 18 minutes or so* for an LP.

(just talking rock music here. Classical/minimalist records can be longer, DONK DONK records need to be much shorter..)
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby LBx on Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:49 pm

elisha wiesner wrote:some shitheads will be stuck with worthless piles of Southern Lord LP's, or whatever people are speculating on these days

Related, anyone have a copy of the Warhorse record they can sell me?
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby The MayorofRockNRoll on Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:41 pm

I kinda think it's akin to people buying and hoarding Cabbage Patch Dolls in the 80s. So many people did it, it rendered the practice pretty zero-sum.

I mean, collector-specific novelty vinyl really isn't anything new. But in the mid/late 80s, if you were aware of a piece of limited colored vinyl a band or label was putting out, it was generally because you were a fan, and kinda wanted something unique by that band/lable for its own sake.

That being said, I think the whole 'flipper/speculator' practice is designed to backfire on itself. It's like the scenario with the Cabbage Patch Dollls. The actual thing, removed from it's original context/audience, becomes nothing more than a speculative mcguffin, and is of little to no value anymore.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby elisha wiesner on Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:16 pm

Kyle Motor wrote:
enframed wrote:Yeah, there's a bubble, for sure.


The bubble gets closer to bursting with every dollar-bin filler LP that gets a 180g deluxe reissue.


I've seen someone else mention The Gambler 180g vinyl as the end of the current vinyl movement but I don't buy it. That record has sold million and millions of copies worldwide, is the signature album featuring the signature song by one of the biggest country stars of the past 40 years. The Gambler won the grammy for song of the year in '78 and topped the country charts for months. We might think it's cheesy but I don't doubt that there are a number of people who love this album and I'm sure some of them are Hoffman forum-vinyl audiophile types. There was actually a MFSL "Original Master Recording" version of it released in the 90's that goes for $20 used on ebay so clearly there is some precedent for it as a high end vinyl release.
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Re: The Vinyl Bubble

Postby enframed on Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:56 pm

To be clear, I'm not complaining about vinyl records being made. I love listening to records and I try to listen to one every day, and I will always buy them if I can afford them. I only want people making these records to take care making them. I remember reading someplace that RTI itself (record manufacturer in Camarillo, CA) rejects something like 25% of the records it presses. I wonder what the rest of the industry is doing.

Of course people are free to ask $37 for a Slayer record, and I'm free to say "fuck off" in response.
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