# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Is Vinyl Too Expensive? - Vinyl Stories

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 5 / 12 / 2023

Is Vinyl Too Expensive? - Vinyl Stories

A long time ago, in a bedroom far far away, in a time before Facebook and Twitter and mobile phone thingymajigs, a young lad sat playing his new copy of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s second full length offering “Organisation”, and couldn’t believe the quality of the sound and the tactile cover he had in front of him. The experience so overwhelmed that it almost brought him to tears. He had carried it all the way home from Arcade Records back on the number 52 bus and it was still pristine because he had cradled it like a baby all the way. In front of him on the floor in his cold, drab bedroom lay the most recent copies of the NME and Melody Maker and Sounds telling him how good or even how shit the band were that he was playing on the Amstrad stereo that he got for Christmas, but he didn’t care for any of that because it sounded so good. Today that same lad has been trawling through Facebook and Twitter on his mobile phone thingymajig because NME and Melody Maker and Sounds have long gone to the musical incinerator in the sky, and he began to get quite defensive. For it was only a few decades ago that his beloved vinyl had disappeared for what seemed forever thanks to advancements in sound technology. You see, with the advent of the dawn of the Digital Age the music lover had opted to buy the digital version in the form of the Compact Disc. This had a catastrophic effect on the vinyl record which it seemed it was now doomed to rest in the annals of history. After this came another nail in vinyl’s coffin with the introduction of the MP3. Now the music lover didn’t have to carry home the newly bought album on the number 52 bus, he didn’t have anything to thumb through, or to marvel at, because there was nothing there at all. At least with the CD you had a cover: at least that was something. That was until the music lover decided one day that the CD had not lived up to its billing and that the MP3 was OK for life ‘on the move’ (whatever that was that the young folk did now), and had decided that ANALOGUE was and (this is the big one) WILL ALWAYS be the dog’s doodahs. But now, once again, our not-so-young fellow is filled with sadness and dread because he can see it all happening again, though this time it is different. This time there is no new upstart technology to threaten vinyl. As our now-fiftysomething gazes lovingly at the copies of the NME and the Melody Maker and Sounds hung in glass picture frames on his wall he realises the horrible truth. This time it is vinyl’s own fault. Or is it? One of the comments made in reply to a post that celebrated Record Store Day on Facebook read: “Nowadays, I’ll only buy releases from a couple of my favourite artists. I don’t ‘collect’ like some people. I feel records are quickly declining. CDs on the used market are a buck each and my Bludento audio receiver (a digital music player) sounds stunning”. A reply to this read: “Yep, CDs are 62 cents at [the charity shop]. And you always can find gems.” And the negativity goes on. By now my love for the black disc is starting to come under a lot of pressure. Another comment: “Agree new pressings tend to be on the poor side at best. Sadly when vinyl was thought to be obsolete 30 years ago all the presses that made good records were sent to the bottom of the ocean. I’ve found there is a silver lining to RSD, though: shop the used records. Most shops offer deals on used and they put some gold nuggets out.” Now, I’m sure I don’t have to explain all of this as we are now in the 21st century (you know, when Buck Rogers was alive). We live in a time when we shorten everything we can. Even the mighty Prince shortened his name to a single symbol. RSD is short for Record Store Day and is the equivalent of going to church. Can you imagine a Methodist going to their place of worship? Well, people who love their vinyl do the same and they are called Vinylists. Despite us looking for the beloved black wax all year long, a day was set up to commemorate the sad passing of the Record Shop. It is believed the authorities believe all Record Shops to be deceased. Vinylists are now supposed to do it one day a year on Record Store Day. But this isn’t my point. Originally when I thought this article up it was going to be about the cost of vinyl. I had made contact with all sorts of lovely people about the problems generated by being a Vinylist. The main issue was the cost in comparison to what you actually got in return. It culminated in the issues that confronted me when buying Depeche Mode’s new album. Depeche Mode, by the way, are a band that saw the days of vinyl and have come through the changes in formats as I have, and have now come through the other side and are firmly entrenched in the revival. So why do they put out their next offering at an eye-watering 40 quid a pop? The packaging is splendid indeed but only three of the four sides of vinyl contain music. The fourth side of the double album is an etched artwork. What is this tomfoolery, I ask? I haven’t cradled this album all the way from town on the number 52 bus to find when I got home that there were only three sides of flippin’ music. I was feeling quite disgruntled at this point so I put the question out to the masses in Melody Maker. Sorry, I mean Facebook: Mike Bymaster: “As long as it's the original album, I wouldn't be mad. Are all the songs that originally appeared on the album there? That's the only thing that matters to me. I have a couple of records that do the same thing. Three sides instead of four.” I started to feel a bit confused and slightly agitated at this. Chuck Mann: “I see what you mean but it’s a double album. For me there should be four sides of music, or is that me being traditionalist? Especially for 40 quid?” Ah, now, that’s better, that’s the spirit. But wait. Does Mike have a point? All the songs are there. Just because it’s on three sides and not four isn’t the point. Or is it? Is Chuck a traditionalist as well as being a Vinylist in thinking that 40 quid is bonkers money? Grant LJ McMullen: “I'd be bothered by that, too. I also can't stand that resources are wasted in making swirly-whirly colourful records and that there are enough consumers superficial enough to think that's a selling point. A record needs to look pretty about as much as a hammer does.” Oh my God. Grant has just agreed with me that it’s a rip-off only having three sides, but what’s this revelation? “A record needs to look pretty about as much as a hammer does.” Are you serious? A record does need to look pretty, and by golly I’ll spend a fortune on it anyway, even if it looks drab and even if it has only three sides! Paul Andrew Cotton: “I have about 40 Depeche Mode 12 inch singles. They fuck around with my mind a bit though I love playing them. Some are 33rpm, some are 45rpm, and would you believe some have one side at 33 and the flip side at 45?” Ah, now, this is just the weird world of vinyl and it’s just ‘fuckery’ in a different way. I’m trying to establish whether it’s just me being pedantic about the cost of it all. Nicholas Luis Sevilla: “Did all the songs come on the three sides?” It’s in the post, Nicholas. On the website it said it was three sides and the last was a 'special etched artwork'. I would have bought the album anyway but just lately it seems like we are forking out much more than we used to for the same thing. As Paul Andrew Cotton has suggested, it may be running in line with inflation and the cost of living but in this day and age I would have thought it would be easier and cheaper to produce a product such as a vinyl album that all can afford because let’s face it, we are living in uncertain times at the minute and for some poor folk buying music is a luxury and the only people that is going to affect are the bands themselves. Nicholas Luis Sevilla: “If it is 180 gram vinyl, you can only fit 18 minutes or so per side. Perhaps that is something you are not considering. If they had more than 36 minutes of material, somewhere like 40 to 48, and the band wanted to make sure vinyl buyers got ALL the songs from the new record, this three-side thing would make sense. One vinyl record is usually 20 US dollars. So a double album would be… double the cost.” I have to admit I have never thought of it like that. I had certainly never thought that one of the reasons for the four sides or the three sides is because the thicker record can only store a smaller amount of music. Is that right? Over to Chad: Chad Stern: “Hmmm. You got two records expecting four sides of music, but because you got an etched side, you lost one side. That is more for collectors or simply just for appearances. I have two of those, for Mr. Bungle and Roky Erickson. I was aware of it and didn't mind it much. It is a waste of space. The thing I hate the most and is a real gimmick just to raise prices is two or three albums when the original only had one. Yes, if you want demos or live tracks, I get that. I do not like those very much either.” What I thought was a done deal at the start has now turned into a full-blown debate. Here’s Paul just to throw another spanner in to the works: Paul Andrew Cotton: “When I was 18 years old in 1972, records were $5.99, when I was earning $20-30 a week. Records are very cheap at $40-50 in my mind if you take a line through the cost 50 years ago. Just my thoughts.” And I had not thought of inflation either. Some of the other comments were just as contradictory: Chris Parmentier: “Four sides, all should be music.” For now I’ll leave you with another comment from Mike Bymaster: “This is new vinyl. At what cost do we stop buying vinyl? Like me, I guess you can’t comprehend the day when it becomes too expensive to buy? I think I would carry on buying vinyl whatever the cost. Or would O? It’s playing with my head again.” It’s playing with your head, Mike? Blimey, it’s been playing with mine for a long while. Right, this needs to be investigated. It may take me a while but I’ll be back.

Also In Vinyl Stories

Picture Gallery:-
Is Vinyl Too Expensive? - Vinyl Stories

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors