If you fancy yourself something of an audiophile and Spotify doesn’t cut it for you, you might be itching to start (or build out) your own record collection. Transitioning to vinyl opens doors to an entire musical universe that may not even be available on Spotify or other streaming services. Whether you’re looking to start DJing or just love the warmth generated by a needle caressing your favorite LP, there are a few things to keep in mind when buying and selling wax online.
Establish your taste
Part of the thrill of collecting records is finding something rare in the wild, or digging through crates for hours and coming up empty, only to find a gem at the last minute. While anyone can and should listen to whatever records they want, I recommend looking outside the realm of contemporary mainstream pop if you want to put together a sizable record collection, the reason being—and forgive me if I sound a tad snobby—the allure of records comes partly from their physical reality, which often entitles you to rarities like decorated vinyl and exclusive bonus tracks. You don’t necessarily want to spend a ton of money on a basic album replicating material you could readily listen to on Spotify, do you?
But that’s just me—and you should definitely do you while diving head first into the world of vinyl.
Buying your records online
If you’re looking for vinyl’s answer to eBay—that isn’t eBay—you will do no better than Discogs. It’s not a bidding site, but it’s similar in that it offers a massive library of records sold by vendors all over the world. Looking for Brazilian disco? Detroit house? Japanese or Peruvian psych rock? Discogs has everything—and that isn’t an overstatement.
On Discogs, you can sort by artist, album, producer, or anything else you can type into a search bar, and quickly find yourself swimming through records, CDs, and tapes for sale. There are some things to be aware of: According to Joe Rihn, a writer, DJ, and the host of Audio Days, a show on the online radio station DubLab, “grading the condition of your records accurately is extremely important” when buying records on Discogs. This is because sellers will be shipping your purchase to you, so it’s important to know that whatever you’re buying is already in good physical shape.
When I’m looking for a particular record, the one I’m most likely to buy will display a price, a condition category, and a shipping location (your records might be shipping from Europe, South America, or some other place far away).
As an alternative, Rihn suggests looking to your local record store to see if they offer online deals. (It also doesn’t hurt to support local business in these economically thin time.) “Most local record stores run online stores, so even if the pandemic is preventing you from going in person, you can still support small retailers,” he says.
Of course, you can buy vinyl on eBay in a similar capacity, and you can even throw records in with your bulk orders on Amazon. But the community thrives off local vendors and grassroots activity, so I’d recommend staying away from the corporate giants.
How to sell records online
If you want to sell records on Discogs, it’s pretty simple: Just navigate to the “Marketplace” button in the top section of the website and begin plugging in the various criteria to create your listing. You might not find yourself inundated with requests right off the bat, but if you’ve got something good on offer, a prospective buyer will eventually note they are “interested” in one of your items; you can proceed to haggle from there.
Selling records on eBay is pretty similar to selling anything else on the platform. There are other resources, too, but I really wouldn’t recommend anything other than Discogs and eBay—the former for the robust selection while buying, and the latter to maximize your potential profit when selling.