Is the Price of Vinyl Going Too High?

Have you honestly paid too much for vinyl records?

In its Year in Report 2017, researchers at BuzzAngle Music noted that streaming music consumption surged in the US and Canada.  Physical and digital album and track sales, however, continued their slow descent into obscurity.

The anomaly?  At a 20.1% increase over 2016’s numbers, vinyl records sales actually increased.  The medium now comprises 10.4% all physical album sales in the US.

Nielsen Music also reported a similar spike.  Last year, vinyl records accounted for 14% all physical album purchases, a record high.  Bandcamp also reported a 54% increase in vinyl sales for artists on its online music distribution platform.

As vinyl records sales increase, it’s only natural that some retailers will take advantage the medium’s apparent resurgence.  But, according to a new report, have vinyl prices gone too high?

You probably pay a lot more than you should for your favorite records.

The Toronto Star’s Ben Raynor tackled this problem.  Unlike the US, vinyl sales have actually decreased in Canada.  BuzzAngle noted that due to HMV’s store closure, vinyl record sales declined 9.3%.

Raynor paid $64.98 Canadian dollars for a new Queens the Stone Age album.  This was before taxes.  This comes out to around $52 in American dollars for a single vinyl record.  He noted that despite the increase in manufacturing capacity, vinyl prices continue to rise.

Touching on the format’s rising price tags, local record store owner Greg Davis told Raynor,

Davis owns Soundscapes on College St. in Toronto.  Davis added that customers tend to avoid costlier vinyl records.

Do you love vinyl?  Time to shell out your hard-earned cash.

Looking through prices vinyl records on Amazon, you’ll find similar price increases.  For example, A Perfect Circle’s upcoming album, Eat The Elephant, on CD will cost $11.99.  You could purchase it as a digital download for $12.49.  However, if you want to score the album on vinyl, you’ll have to shell out $27.06.

While not as expensive as Eat The Elephant, Justin Timberlake fans will have to pay more for Man the Woods.  The album on MP3 costs $12.99.  On CD, you’ll score it for just $10.  Vinyl lovers, however, will have to pay nearly double.  The vinyl record costs $18.97.

The same increases apply for LPs from Van Halen, Kendrick Lamar, and David Bowie, among many others.

The notable price increases may be coming from the lack pressing capabilities to meet demand.  And is this just what people are willing to pay?  Speaking with The Toronto Star, Isotope Records’ Gerry McGhee doesn’t see the end the format’s resurgence anytime soon.

To meet demand, he opened up a pressing plant, Precision Vinyl, in early 2017.  After six months opening, it had to add a second eight-hour daily shift, something he called “insane.”  The plant currently presses 240,000 units a month.

To further maximize the potential its 10 pressing molds, Precision ten runs a Saturday shift.  At the end February, the company will add machines to bring the plan’s total pressing capacity to 500,000 units.

Testing how much vinyl lovers will actually pay.

According to McGhee, labels charge more for records to test consumers’ buying habits.  His clients try to find a price point to make a prit from sales without driving away customers.

Echoing McGhee’s statement, Doug Putnam, Sunrise Records, claims that he hasn’t seen any price decreases in sales.

But do you really know why you have to pay more for vinyl records?

Putnam added that consumers may not realize why records cost much more.

Not everyone agrees with the format’s pricing.  Lambasting the skyrocketing price tags on new records, Record Collectors News wrote back in 2013,

Welcome to the new norm.

Despite executives’ complaints, don’t expect prices to come down anytime soon.  Nielsen Music noted that in Canada, catalog titles like Bob Marley’s Legend accounted for 59% vinyl sales.  Indie label owner Trevor LaRocque blasted the popularity these sales.

His label, Paper Bag Records, usually sells new vinyl records for $24.99.

Noting that most customers don’t know who to blame for the price high tags on vinyl records, he lamented,


Featured image by PXHere (CC0)