Vinyl records have become a hot commodity and are predicted to surpass CD sales for the first time in 33 years.
Certain rare records, like the single copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” are worth millions of dollars.
Other expensive records sell for tens of thousands because they were never supposed to be printed at all, like Prince’s “Black Album.”
Discogs, a crowdsourced database of music info and a vinyl marketplace, shared a list of the top 10 most expensive records it has ever sold.
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When CDs were invented in 1982, the market for vinyl records quickly collapsed. But around 2010, vinyl started to make a comeback, and now prices for certain rare editions are sky high.
For the first time in 33 years, vinyl records are on track to surpass CD sales, CNBC’s Daniel Bukszpan reported, and record prices are steadily climbing.
Rare records in particular, such as those with misprinted covers or low production numbers, have sold for millions of dollars. In 2015, disgraced pharma exec Martin Shkreli paid $2 million for the only copy of the Wu-Tang Clan record “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” although he has since forfeited it to the federal government after being convicted of securities fraud.
Several online marketplaces that buy and sell vinyl records told Business Insider that they’d seen exponential growth in sales since the vinyl resurgence in the late 2000s.
“It has a lot to do with a counterbalance to streaming and downloading and any non-physical form of media,” said Dan Orkin, the director of content at music gear marketplace Reverb, which sells vinyl records on its website. “As that became more dominant, I think a lot of people started looking to records as a more authentic way to experience music.”
Aub Driver, a spokesperson for Discogs, an online music database with a large marketplace for records, said the site really started to see sales boom around 2015. From 2010 to 2014, most high-price records were selling for about $2,000, but in 2015 that number suddenly increased to $3,000 and then continued to climb.
Here are the 10 most expensive records ever sold on Discogs:
10. “Melody A.M.” by Röyksopp
Sold: January 19, 2017
Format: 2xLP, Album
Label: Wall of Sound
“Melody A.M.” is a well-known album by the Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp, but a handful of copies stand apart from the rest — and cost much more than the average record. In 2002, the duo sent 100 copies of a white label pressing of the album to street artist Banksy, and he spray painted a custom design on each cover. Two copies are still available on Discogs.
9. “Would You Believe” by Billy Nicholls
Sold: April 26, 2017
Format: LP, Album
Label: Immediate Records
“Would You Believe” was recorded as a British response to the Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds,” but Immediate Records ran into big financial problems just as the album was finished. With its label facing bankruptcy, “Would You Believe” was shelved and only about 100 copies were ever produced.
8. “Love Me Do” by The Beatles
Sold: March 1, 2018
Format: 7”, Single
The original recorded copy of “Love Me Do” is a demo, according to Driver, the Discogs spokesman, and only 250 of this particular copy were released. Why? Paul McCartney’s name is misspelled as “McArtney” in the writing credits.
“That spelling error bumps the value up even further,” Driver said.
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