Whether you’ve got some old records sitting around the house or you recently scored a few great finds at a yard sale, you may be wondering if your LPs have any hidden value. Much like coins or comic books, some old vinyl records may be more valuable than you’d think — as long as you find the right buyer. Join us for a look into how to find out what your old LP records are worth, along with the best places to sell them.
What Makes a Vinyl Record Valuable?
As with most collectibles, much of what makes a record valuable comes down to how rare or in-demand it is. While you may own an LP of one of the most popular bands of the 1960s, for example, this alone may not mean much if there are still plenty of copies of the same record on the market.
To see what we mean, look no further than the most expensive record ever sold. Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin sold at auction for an impressive $2 million. Why? Because it was literally the only copy ever produced. The rarer your LP is, the more money it’s likely to fetch from a collector.
Other examples of types of vinyl records that may be in higher demand include:
- The first copy of a record
- First editions or limited releases
- Copies owned by someone famous or an original band member
- Copies signed by deceased band members
- Full collections by the same artist or band
Anything that makes your record unique or one of a kind will likely increase its value. Ringo Starr pulled in $790,000 in 2015 when he auctioned off the first copy of The Beatles (the White Album), while Elvis’ first-ever test recording sold for $300,000 the same year. In 2013, a copy of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band went for $290,000 because it had been signed by all four band members.
How to Assess a Record’s Value
Not every record is signed by every single member of a legendary rock group. But that doesn’t mean your record won’t have value in the eyes of a potential buyer. While you can have your record appraised by a professional, it may be easier and less expensive to begin your research online.
First, assess the condition of your record. Check out this guide to the vinyl grading system to get an idea of what shape your LP is in. Unless it’s very rare, your record’s condition will likely be an important factor when it comes to determining its overall value.
Keep in mind that collectibles of any sort rarely have a set value but are worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them at the time — fair market value. With that in mind, one of the best ways to get an idea of your record’s potential worth is to find out how much people have paid for other copies of it in the recent past.
But how do you find out? There are several websites where collectors from around the world gather to catalog, buy and trade LPs. These sites are great resources for determining a record’s going rate, even if you ultimately choose to sell it somewhere else.
Using Online Vinyl Auction Sites as Pricing Resources
While it may be tempting to think your record is worth $100,000 just because that’s what another seller is currently asking on eBay, don’t get excited just yet. Sellers can ask for any price they want, but that doesn’t mean someone will pay it. What you should be more interested in is how much someone has already paid for a copy of the record you want to sell.
One option for gauging historical price action is a site called Popsike.com. The goal of Popsike is to provide an archive of completed vinyl auctions, including those on eBay, in order to show what prices each record has fetched in the past. Since its start in 2004, the site has archived the results of over 20 million auctions.
Another great source is an active auction site called Discogs. Discogs features a user-built database of millions of records and can help you get a good idea of how much your LP is worth with the site’s searchable vinyl record price guide.
If your record has a barcode, you can use the free Discogs app to scan it. Otherwise, you can use the advanced search feature on the website to search based on different filters. The two that are likely to give you the best match are your record’s catalog or barcode numbers. Once you’ve located the correct record, navigate to its statistics section, where you’ll find the lowest, median and highest prices that it’s sold for at past Discogs auctions.
How to Sell Your Vinyl LP
When it comes to actually selling your record, much will depend on what you’ve discovered about its potential worth. If you want to go the online route, Discogs is still a great site to look into; it puts your record in front of millions of collectors around the world. You can also go with eBay, which can be convenient if you already have an active account and great seller reviews.
Depending on where you’re located, you may also want to check out reputable local record shops. If you live in the Los Angeles area, for instance, Amoeba Music has one of the largest selections of music in the world and is a great place to sell your record — or an entire collection.
If it turns out your record is more valuable, you may want to go a more specialized route. Check out Omega Auctions, which is “one of the top auction houses worldwide for music memorabilia and vinyl records.” Omega lets you submit a valuation for either a single vinyl or an entire collection. The auction house is dedicated to helping you find the best possible price for your record, but keep in mind that it’s based in the UK and there may be some upfront shipping costs involved.
If it turns out you have a very valuable or rare vinyl you’d like to sell, it may also be worth it to look into top auction houses like Christie’s or Sotheby’s. While both tend to concentrate on fine art, they’ve also auctioned off valuable records in the past. Don’t be afraid to get multiple quotes from various sellers to find the one that’s likely to get you the highest possible price.