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What Has Happened to The Cost of Vinyl?

What Has Happened to The Cost of Vinyl?

All Ages are Getting into Record Collecting - and Driving up The Cost of Vinyl

The cost of vinyl records has really gone up!  Why is that happening? it seems there is no limit to just how high they will get. It might surprise you but the small independent record stores are not making the "killing" you might thing when you walk in and see some of the prices.  Indie record stores typically mark up their new album selections somewhere around 20% to 30% at most. Compare that to a clothing retailer where most inventory is sold at double the wholesale cost and you can quickly see that the record stores are not the main culprit for the high costs.  It is literally a lesson in basic economics - supply and demand.  The demand for vinyl has ramped up dramatically in the last several years with this year eclipsing all others.  The simple fact is supply cannot keep up with demand. But what is driving the vinyl resurgence?

The law of supply and demand are driving up the cost of vinyl.  But what is causing the crazy demand?

The rise in the cost of vinyl is simple economics - supply vs. demand.

We all know music on vinyl sounds richer and warmer - but what has caused the demand to skyrocket the way it has? The Boomers have enjoyed vinyl and CDs for sometime, but now their adult children and their younger children are getting hooked! Many "discovered" vinyl for the first time or again when they were forced off the grid during the pandemic.  Many found escape from the upside-down current events listening to vinyl collections while "stuck" at home. The sound of the crackle when the needle first hits the platter is something quite comforting. Some have said holding a record from the 60's or 70's lets them connect to a time when life was not as chaotic. For others a certain album takes them right back to a specific point in time - kind of like a time machine. Holding and album, reading the liner notes and studying the cover art all make the medium feel so much more tangible and "real" than digital formats. No matter what nostalgic feelings are associated with vinyl, the result is very real - more and more people are getting into the vinyl collecting game and it is driving up the demand - and the cost of vinyl.

Young man getting ready to play his vinyl record.  Millennials are driving up the cost of vinyl with their new interest.

Millennials and Young Professionals have Embraced Vinyl in a Big Way - Driving Up the Demand and the Cost

A March 12, 2022  Wall Street Journal article by Marc Myers Why Millennials Want Their Parents’ Vinyl Records - Sales of LPs soared during the pandemic as younger listeners discovered their nostalgic and sensory appeal sites many factors of the vinyl surge phenomenon. The primary driver being young people jumping on the bandwagon. The article sited that "last year, the format’s popularity surged in the U.S., selling 41.7 million units, up from 21.5 million in 2020. LPs outsold CDs for the first time in 30 years, as well as digital albums, according to a report from MRC Data-Billboard.  Instagram, Snapchat and Tik Tok have certainly helped spread the awareness and the 'coolness" of vinyl with a number of influencers posting about their awesome finds at local record shops. 

Inexpensive all-in-one turntable with speakers have kindled the rise in demand and cost of vinyl

The availability of all-in-one turntable, amp, speaker units have also driven up the demand and to cost of vinyl.

The availability of all-in-one turntable, amp, speaker units have also driven up the demand and to cost of vinyl. Now parents can give their children a nice quality turntable with a small footprint for easily under $200.  That gives them an opportunity to try out the vinyl scene without a huge investment in audio equipment.  The small footprint of the units is also a benefit - young people starting out typically don't have a designated "music room" to house their audio gear.  These small all-in-one turntables fit their lifestyle.

Record store owners hate the words sold out, on backorder, and not available. We see these words a lot lately when trying to order new records for customers due to vinyl supply shortages.

Sold Out, On Backorder, Not Available - Record Store Owners and Customers Curse These Words

we've talked a good amount about some of the reasons the demand for vinyl has gone nuts - more and younger people getting interested, the fact that it is an audio, visual and touch media unlike digital, the nostalgic connection to perceived simpler, safer times and the inexpensive, easy to use all-in-one turntables. But what about the supply? Well we have all learned a thing or two over the past couple years about supply chain and what it feels like when it just can't keep up. We all remember scrambling around trying to buy essentials only to find all the store shelves empty.  Thankfully we are not experiencing the same level of scarcity as those not-so-long-ago crappy days. But we are experiencing shortages non the less.  Artists are having to wait years as opposed to months to get their turn to get their titles into the pressing plants. With all the flurry of interest, more musicians than ever are producing their music on vinyl. Considering vinyl is now outselling CD format, that is just a good business decision.  The pressing plants can't keep up so they can charge more. The distributors can't get the merchandise so when they do get it in stock, they can charge more. The record stores are stuck at the end of the line watching the prices continue to go up and more and more of the titles they seek branded with the dreaded "Sold Out", "On Backorder" or "Not Available" designations - words all record store owners and their customers curse.

Buy used records at your local record store to help curb the crazy cost of new vinyl.

Buying vintage records at your local record store can help ease the cost of vinyl

What can you do? Give up vinyl forever? Well that would be a total shame to miss out on! No there is a way to keep collecting and not spend your grocery money... go check out your local record store for vintage vinyl!  You can still get a lot of music for way less than the shiny new LP's still in the wrapper. You might have to listen to a few crackles or pops now and then but shockingly a lot of "well loved and often listened to" albums still sound amazing! Kind of nice being able to take home a stack of albums for less than buying a couple brand new ones. Plus you get the opportunity to spend as much time as you want on the hunt and probably get to talk a little music to the folks at the store if you are so included. That part doesn't cost a thing.

Check out Record Town's Vintage Music Collection