Vinyl records back in vogue in N. America
It may surprise some. But vinyl record sales doubled last year compared with 2007.
The tracking company Nielson found that the number of long-play vinyl records sold in North America rose to 1.88 million in 2008, compared with 990,000 the year before.
While vinyl records represent a fraction of total music sales, their resurgence could not come at a better time for independent music stores.
Nielsen said almost two-thirds of the vinyl albums sold last year were from independent shops. And this comes at a time when overall music sales are down 20 per cent.
Certainly there is an increase in demand for digital music you download from sites like i-tunes but it's not enough to offset the drop in CD sales, especially for music stores which count on getting you in the door.
Strangely enough, this is not a case of nostalgic baby boomers going back to a format they remember.
Sales are linked to a younger generation who didn't grow up with records -- teens and young adults -- who want to listen to music in a traditional way.
So how do you know what those dusty records in your basement are worth?
Some old albums can command hundreds of dollars.
Music on vinyl was once thought to be extinct. But no more.
"People who are really into music are really into records," says Nick Bragg of Zulu Records in Vancouver.
Mining the shelves of Zulu was like an archeological dig. Vinyl is the original recording and to some the sound that has never been surpassed.
"There is a warmer sound to it," says Nick. "As I said, there is a wider range of frequencies available on a record. People will tell you the bass sounds deeper on a record."
You may have some dusty records at home. So how much could they be worth? Looking at the wall of the store and seeing a Smashing Pumpkins early release selling for $250 makes you think it's worth finding out.
"If you have records that you have never heard of the bands before there is a chance much like the travelling antiques show that you have something that is really worth a lot," explains Nick.
But if it was a huge million seller, there are probably still a million copies out there. Or even new copies. Like a brand new pressing of the Beatles' Abbey Road.
The next consideration is what kind of condition it's in.
"When you have your old records in the basement and you wipe the dust off them the important thing is to look at the record itself and if it has no scratches on it and if the cover is in good condition it probably has some value," Nick explains.
Then look at what country it was pressed in. What colour is the vinyl. Is it a first copy? And what is the art work like?
"When you look at psychedelic records and there are some amazing artists who design these jackets who've gone on to be real icons on the industry," he says.
Old concerts -- are coming out on new vinyl and so is brand new music. Even a band like U2 which just put out a record last week put out their record on vinyl.
And some bands give record buyers the Mp3 version of the music as well.
By the way, if you have an old turntable kicking around the basement, it may be pretty easy to get it working again. Could be all it needs is a new belt and maybe a new needle. You can find those often at small electronic repair shops.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen