How Much Are Your Old Vinyl LPs Worth?
By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta
November 13, 2020
Vinyl records have been on quite a journey since being first introduced last century.
For decades vinyl was the only way for the average consumer to enjoy recorded music that wasn't on the radio. Then the format was elbowed out of stores by advancements in audio storage technology to the point where vinyl LPs were virtually synonymous with garbage.
The tables turned again, ironically, with the advent of digital music streaming last decade. Streaming helped bring vinyl back with a vengeance, as music enthusiasts craved tactile mementos of their favorite albums. Nowadays you're lucky to get a physical copy of a new album on any format but vinyl.
Vinyl's second wave has provided a boon to local record stores and made new vinyl collectors of many young music fans. But what about those old records?
We've all heard stories of rare vinyl selling for thousands of dollars, but does the average music collector have gold buried beneath their record sleeves?
The answer is no.
While some vinyl records may indeed be more valuable than the plastic they're pressed on, Doug Allen, the owner of one of the largest vinyl records stores in the world, Bananas Records in Saint Petersburg, Florida, tells The Penny Hoarder that LPs aren't really comparable to other big-business collectibles, like stamps or coins.
"Records don't compare to coins and stamps and books," Allen said. "There's not really anything that's worth $100,000 or more."
Bananas Records typically sells classic rock, punk and jazz albums for $10 - $20 a piece, if the vinyl and cover are in good condition.
Vinyl's value problem lies in the fact that the most desirable records to vinyl fans are typically also the most widely available — gold-, platinum- or diamond-selling albums that were pressed and reissued over and over again through the decades don't command big bucks, since there are literally millions in circulation.
Allen says the most valuable vinyl he deals with are generally rare-pressings or records that made little commercial impact in their day — rare jazz albums can sometimes sell for $500 - $700, while classic punk pieces can go for $50 - $100.
He emphasizes that the condition of the album cover is as important to collectors as the vinyl itself.
If the vinyl in your collection looks good, there's a good chance you'll be able to sell it. But don't expect much more than lunch money in return.
While selling your classic vinyl might not have you dreaming in dollars signs, vinyl is still worth a lot more than your average CD. Compact discs have been growing less popular every year and few music sellers will pay more than $0.25 for used CDs, if they buy them at all.
Photo: Getty Images