For those looking at alternative investment options, vinyl records have seen a recent resurgence in popularity. In fact, prices reached their 25-year-high back in 2016. There is still a great demand both among baby boomers and millennials who have discovered the superior sound of vinyl records. But, as with all investments, collectibles always come with risks. Yet many are asking, are vinyl records still worth investing in?
Why People Invest in Vinyl Records
Listening to your favorite songs on vinyl is a much different experience than when you hear a digital recording. Vinyl has a much fuller sound and better quality since it captures small subtle sounds which digital recordings remove. It also provides music lovers a tactile, physical connection to the music.
You might think this type of nostalgic memorabilia only retains its value if you can find rare albums in good condition, but you would be wrong. While the rarest vinyls are worth staggering amounts of money, there is still value to investing in vinyl records or earn money without investments. Classic artists are still releasing new albums, and current artists continue the tradition of recording through this medium. Special editions, early releases, and album art could become extremely valuable over time. With a little luck, the right vinyl record could bring huge returns.
The popularity and demand for vinyl records show no signs of slowing down either. But, there is only a limited supply of original vinyl records. So, if you held onto any records, inherited them from a relative, or scour sales for new ones, you may have a good foundation to build a valuable collection. If you get lucky and find a rare piece of music history, you could sell your vinyl records for tens of thousands of dollars.
Types of Vinyl Records that Are Worth Investing In
The key to making a good investment is knowing the value of things. With vinyl records, it’s knowing which albums and artists to look for. As you build your collection, these are the types of vinyl records that are still worth investing in.
1. Albums with a History or a Story
As with all collections, the most valuable pieces usually have a history or story behind them. When it comes to vinyl records, several legendary albums have sold for a small fortune. For example, Ringo Starr’s first copy of the Beatles White Album got more than three-quarters of a million dollars at auction. Signed copies will also fetch high prices and net you a huge return on your investment.
While most of us will probably never own any of these iconic titles, some albums that have more copies in circulation may still be good investments. Just to give you an idea, copies of the Sex Pistols A&M pressing “God Save the Queen” have seen a huge value increase. Although it was worth $2,000 – $3,000 back in the early 2000s, its value has soared to somewhere between $11,000 and $14,000 today. With an increase of 300-400% for a single album, you can see why some people think that vinyl records are still worth investing in.
2. First Press Collectibles
Another factor to consider is the date your vinyl records were released and whether they are first pressings. The value of records pressed by the first original masters is much higher than later copies which may have used different materials which creates a much different sound. If you aren’t sure if you have a first pressing, just take a look at the spine of the sleeve and look for these indicators to help you.
3. Records from 1993 – 2003
There was a point when record companies tried to kill the record industry, and they very nearly succeeded. With the arrival of CDs, they suppressed the production of vinyl records. However, die-hard audiophiles and dedicated artists ensured that they remained in production.
Unfortunately, that means there were fewer records printed from about 1993 – 2003. So, records from this era are worth more since there are limited quantities. And since there are already so few available, prices will continue to rise as the supply of these albums shrinks.
4. New records
Finally, you can always take your chances by investing in new records. However, be warned that trying to predict the next big artist or album is a crapshoot. If you do put your money on the right horse though, it could bring you the biggest returns.
For those who like the gamble, there are a few things to consider that might improve your chances of getting lucky. Collectible and special release albums from established artists will likely have a higher value. Some newer pressings of older titles are also increasing in value when better pressings improve the quality of the sound. And, of course, if you keep them in mint condition, it will exponentially increase potential returns.
Most Valuable Vinyl Records
So what are the most expensive vinyl records out there? Here are the three most expensive albums that went for the highest prices at auction to date.
1. Wu-Tang Clan – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin – $2 million
This album is by far the most expensive vinyl record sold. As the only one ever made, it was already quite valuable. The added controversy surrounding the buyer, Martin Shkreli, is sure to raise it even further. However, the verbiage included in the contract at the time of sale states that the owner can’t try to sell or make money off the album for 100 years.
2. The Beatles White Album – $790,000
It was well-known among fans that the Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr, held the first copy of their popular White Album. So, it’s no wonder that he made music history when he sold it at auction in 2015 when it sold for $790,000.
3. Elvis Presley – My Happiness – $300,000
Elvis Presley’s first test pressing became the third most valuable record when Jack White brought it for $300,000 at auction back in 2015. Since then, he released it through his record label with all its pops and scratches to create a more authentic listening experience.
If you have a passion for music and the patience to dedicate to building a collection, vinyl records could prove a profitable investment for you.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.