Wed. Dec. 12, 2018

Buying vinyl records: What? How?

Buying vinyl records… An act which many of us might see as synonymous with the past nowadays. And even more by those of us born in a technology-based environment. That said, the digital file, although way more handy, seems to have shown its limit. Most likely due to its inherent inexistant physical appeal in comparison with the object.

Willing to start a collection or simply get back to vinyl? Follow the guide…

Prologue…
“Buying vinyl records today is the only way to purchase music that is likely to give you a return on your investment”, explains Matthew Perpetua on Buzzfeed. “You can’t resell a digital file. And in most cases, CD’s have almost no value on the secondary market. Vinyl records — new or old — retain a lot of value. And so long as your copy is in decent condition and there’s some demand for the title, you can often make a profit if you choose to sell. You probably shouldn’t get into buying vinyl as a way to make money. There are much better and easier ways to do that. But it’s definitely nice to know that if you had to, you could sell your collection.”

Buying vinyl recordsBUYING VINYL RECORDS: SAY WHAT?
Music has managed to come along with a whole amount of things being as many ways to represent it. From the vinyl record itself to various accessories such as record players, mixers, special effect devices. But also record cleaning products, T-shirts, press pics and magazines. The value of which, as you may guess, pretty much depending on the law of supply and demand. It is to say as to how whenever searchin’ for a specific item, time is definitely needed to make ourselves the clearest idea regarding its availability. With circumstantial thanks to Google for makin’ life way easier than say 20 years ago for instance.

Anyway, be you lookin’ for rarities as regular releases, whatever the style may be, from Soul to House Music as Blues, Rock, Techno or else, the process remains exactly the same. With codifications as to what the object is (acetate, test pressing, promo copy, white label, commercial releases). Not to mention its condition (Mint, Ex, VG, poor).

BUYING VINYL RECORDS: WHICH FORMAT?
Acetate
The acetate is to Music what the manuscript is to Literature… An acetate disc, also known as a test acetate. Dubplate (a term from Jamaican Reggae culture, now also applied to individually recorded discs of solid plastic). Or lacquer (a technically correct term which engineers prefer in the recording industry). Transcription disc (a special recording intended for, or made from, a radio broadcast). Or instantaneous disc (because one can play it immediately after recording without any further processing). As many expressions for a type of phonograph (gramaphone) record, a mechanical sound storage medium, widely used from the 30’s to the late 50’s for recording and broadcast purposes.

Delivered in a limited pressing per definition, acetates have been circulating until the 80’s. Allowing producers to test the potential of a release in front of a crowd with the help of top DJ’s. Such as Larry Levan at The Paradise Garage or Tony Humphries at The Zanzibar.

Unlike ordinary vinyl records, which are quickly formed from lumps of plastic by a mass-production molding process, a so-called acetate disc is created by using a recording lathe to cut an audio-signal-modulated groove into the surface of a special lacquer-coated blank disc. A real-time operation requiring expensive, delicate equipment and expert skill for good results. They are made for special purposes, almost never for sale to the general public. They can be played on any normal record player but will suffer from wear more quickly than vinyl. Some acetates are highly prized for their rarity. Especially when they contain unpublished material (Wikipedia).

They happened to be a favored medium for comparing different takes or mixes of a recording, and whenever pressed vinyl copies of an impending new release were not yet available, acetates would then be the ideal tool for artists or producers to eventually get the attention of important radio and club Disc-Jockeys and eventually of industry execs with the hope to get a record deal.
Evilblackspider is the author of an extended article definitely worth the check on eBay.

White label
A White label, as its name says, comes up with a plain white label attached. White labels could come up for various purposes. Each with a different tagging such as Test Pressings, White Label Promos (WLP) or plain white labels.

Test Pressings, as stated on the label with the name of the artist(s), a recording time or date and the catalogue number, were the first vinyls that would come up from an expected upcoming series. Produced in small quantities with the aim to evaluate the quality of the pressings before the mass production started…

The White Label Promos (WLP) – a term mainly used in America) – referred to the (per definition) limited promotional pressing of a cut, with a label that would feature the same infos as the commercial release. Although over a white background as opposed to the colored artwork that would come along with the latter. Music retailers, radio and/or club DJ’s and record pools used them as demos to collect the consumers’s opinion…

Attention though to not get confused whenever seeing what may at first sight, looks like a good bargain. As some of these WLP (among the most sought after ones) have been the subject of cheap repressing over the last years. Although they have no value on the trading market. They may be sold as in new condition which sort of speaks for itself. And eventually sealed which is nothing you could have seen back in the day speakin’ of a Promo package…

Other White Labels would eventually appear later on – like on the House and Hip-Hop circuit – as so to say bootlegs (with a minimum of info when not nothing at all), that most likely DJ’s would use to put out an unofficial remix or a production of theirs featuring some uncleared sample…

Commercial release
Just as it says here as well, which then would be to Music what the pocket book is to Literature…

BUYING VINYL RECORDS: SAY HOW?
With this now in mind, the rarity of an item, like on every other domain, would be for much on its intrinsic value. This in addition to its condition (for the pressing itself as for the record sleeve). The latter varying from Mint (close to new as most likely unused) to Fair or Poor (for releases that do not even meet the Good grade and therefore don’t have any value apart from their rarity). As you might see in the Goldmine. A grading guide which many record collectors use as a solid if not the reference since its first appearance back in 1974…

To make this short and have you familiar with what most likely would appear as a convention between the seller and the buyer, you would see various gradings. From the highest to the lowest. From Mint (M) to Near Mint (N/M),  then Excellent (EX), Very Good (VG) and Good (G) with + or – added to the latter.

As far for myself, I would hardly go under Excellent. Not forgetting the fact that not everybody has the same perception when coming to grading items. Even though additional infos in terms of satisfaction rate regarding the sellers are available on worldwide renown selling platforms such as eBay, Gemm, Musicstack or Discogs.

With this in mind, whenever doin’ a transaction via Internet, better use a third party service (and no, we’re not getting any commission on this!!!) such as Paypal. First because it’s safe per definition. And second because it protects you. Shouldn’t you have received your item for some reason. Or in case of a disagreement with the seller…

BUYING VINYL RECORDS, OR RESELLING THEM…
What’s the value of your vinyl record?

BUYING VINYL RECORDS, AND KEEPING THEM SAFE!
Last but not least, you might consider the necessity of keeping your records in the safest conditions. From storage itself to a smoke free environment away from the rays of sun as from humidity. But also taking the best care of them, beginning with their manipulation and caring. If not restoring while using some appropriate tools depending on your own use which could be a cleaning machine (most likely for record sellers) with the given link purely indicative. And this one definitely of a kind, or a simple cleaning product.

As far as I’m humbly concerned, I’ve used LGL for decades with a lot of satisfaction. Sadly, its manufacturing has stopped allegedly because of some of its components which the authorities consider as addictive. Meanwhile the Vinyl Gel Cleaner looks like a good solution of substitution for some users. Some DIYers havin’ found another alternative with washable white PVA glue…

Well, this is it for me now. Wishin’ these indications will be of a help if ever willing to be buying vinyl records. With your feedback and suggestions always more than welcome…

Editorials – Buying vinyl records: What? How?

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