Yes, They Still Make Records

And other dumb answers to dumb questions about the almighty album.

Jul 3 2012, 5:00pm

Here are a few of my all-time favorite questions I get regarding records. I receive some of these questions so frequently that I figured I should write them down with my responses as a vinyl record FAQ of sorts.

1) I have all the old Beatles records. They must be worth a fortune, right?

It's 2012. By now, most people have at least heard of the The Beatles. For whatever reason, many of them are completely convinced that "Original Beatles records" are incredibly rare and, therefore, demand a handsome return. Here are the hard facts: It's believed that over 700 million Beatles albums have been sold since 1964. That breaks down to roughly two Beatles albums sold somewhere in the world every second. Sure there are specific titles and pressings that sell for more than others, but for the most part, you and many other people out there have or have had Beatles records in your/his/her collection, making the supply meet the demand, and making the actual value of the average Beatles record standard and affordable.

2) Do people actually still buy records?

This question is pretty hilarious, as we generally get it in our shop. I try to bite my tongue and be polite when responding, but what I want to say is "No, the records in the bins are for decoration, and we pay the rent as a hobby, out of our pockets."

3) A lot of the music you like is from before you were born. How could you possibly know anything about it?

When this one comes, up I usually ask the person, "You've heard of George Washington right?" They almost always promptly reply, "Of course," to which I counter, "Well, I too posses the power to learn and know about people who were around before I was."

4) Can you fix a scratched record?

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common questions I get on a daily basis: "Can you fix a scratched record?" The answer, 99% of the time, is "Absolutely not." If a record has a small skip, you can occasionally find and remove a small piece of dirt, but once the record is deeply scratched, actual physical information on the record is lost forever ever ever ever ever ever ever…

Above: The "scratching" that Shawn Waynes (a.k.a. "DJ SW1") is pretending to do here on the set of In Living Color is another story all together.

5) My records are all in mint condition, right?

No, they aren't. Thanks to all these new cable television shows on pawn shops, antiquing, and collecting, the world is being misinformed at all new speeds. "Mint" condition comes from the coin collecting world and it originally meant "coin that was fresh out of the mint, never circulated, and never handled." Apply that to the records that you are trying to sell me and, suddenly, your dog-eaten James Brown LP is worthless.

6) Do they still make records?

Yes, they still make records, and believe it or not, they never stopped. Even when you swore that your Sony MiniDisc system would replace all musical media, someone, somewhere, was still buying those giant, ancient vinyl discs.

7) So the older the record, the more valuable the record?

No. I don't think this phrase correctly applies to anything, except maybe dinosaur bones. There could be an extremely old record that is highly sought after, but age rarely dictates value when it comes to records. Get enough calls about Mantovani or Mitch Miller and you will understand me completely.

Above: By the time you read this caption, the actual combined value of these three records pictured will have dropped another 5,000%.

8) Which side needs to be up when playing a record on a turntable?

Okay, in all fairness, I only got this one a couple times, but I needed to mention it because the question completely blew my mind. The answer to this is similar to the answer my friend gave his father in the mid-80's when he tried to flip over a CD to hear the other side: I'll let trial and error teach anyone who can't figure it out immediately.

9) Now that this artist is dead, my collection of his or her albums is worth more, right?

Not necessarily. There will always be that initial round of impulsive and heartless record auctions that go up the second Whitney Houston's manager confirms her death, and these auctions can end up going for astronomical prices. This trend is a brief and shameful cash-grab that generally lasts as long as the preliminary shock accompanying the death of the star does. After that shock wears off we are left with countless copies of records that, at best, may or may not increase slightly in value.

Above: This jackass thinks he's gonna get a grand for three incredibly common Michael Jackson LPs, when the actual value of the entire set fetches a whopping seven bucks. Hey, at least shipping is free…that's something to consider.

10) If I don't like the record, can I have my money back?

This one kills me. A customer opens up a sealed product, decides that he or she doesn't care for the actual music, and requests a refund. Part of record buying is risk-taking. You can't send a record back like it's an undercooked steak. Plus, it's usually the customer's fault for not knowing what Brooklyn's new two-piece "Turquoise Falcon" would actually sound like before committing to a purchase and throwing it on at home.