Price of Vinyl Records To Go Up By 30% in 2023

This will be interesting to watch, since I haven't yet heard this for US album releases. Yet the majors are always looking to make more money and it's easy to blame "inflation" for their increases even if the costs don't change. And I can only imagine how the yearly Record Store Day cash grab will play out.

Some of the boutique labels already raised their prices this year. I rarely buy new vinyl anymore, so it doesn't affect me either way.
Vinyl is still way too expensive for me after paying much cheaper for CDs ( I was used to paying anywhere from $5.99 to $10.99 back in the older days of vinyl) and worse yet Most new reissues are Not from the analog sources and don't sound like they should ( not how I Remember them) I've accepted the reality The cost of EVERYTHING is going up and its only going to get more so.
I have noticed a difference in some reissues vs. others. Some (but not all) of the LP reissues cut from digital masters sound somewhat flat and lifeless.

In fact, that reminds me of the Stevie Ray Vaughan LP box set I bought a few years ago from Analogue Productions--they cut all the records from original analog masters, but the master for In Step was digital since the album was recorded digitally. And in comparison, it sounds a bit different from the others.

These days, if I hear a particular record sounds good, I might treat myself. I picked up the Gerald Wilson album Moment of Truth (which has "Viva Tirado") back a few months ago. It was on Blue Note's Tone Poet reissue series, so it came in a nice gatefold packaging. The price was quite reasonable, especially since some of the Tone Poet releases can fetch a bit of money. And not only does it sound fantastic (cut from original analog master tapes), it is a very nice pressing.

I will also very occasionally buy a vinyl edition of a new album if I like to support the artist, and it's a limited edition (usually direct from their own site, so they make the most money from it).

In general for new releases, though, I will buy the high-res digital download first, as my Qobuz subscription has titles generally 40-50% off the high-res cost, which is cheaper than the CD-resolution price.

I miss the early CD days when everyone started dumping their vinyl collections. Great times, many bargains, and the condition of the used records overall was much better back then than they are now.
I still have some records from the 80’s that were cut back then from digital master’s, like Tiffany’s “Hold An Old Friends Hand”, and they sound better than modern LP’s cut from digital masters. Modern LP’s cut from digital masters, even old digital masters, always sound like they were mastered at half-volume, because the engineer is afraid any higher and the needle will jump out of the groove, or they’ll cause too much distortion on playback.
As many as I own, I have never noticed a volume difference between old vs. new vinyl mastering levels. Maybe a decibel or two at the most, comparing title-to-title, new-to-old. In fact, new records today have the potential to sound better and be cut a little hotter since mastering engineers don't have to worry about someone playing a record on a console or cheap plastic portable, when tracking with poor equipment would be an issue. They now cut at a full range with less compression since most of today's cartridges handle it easily (except for those Crosley record shredders sold at the big box stores).

They also tend not to cut at a lower volume since it results in a net increase in background noise. I do have a couple that were cut at way too low of a volume, but that was because the label tried to put too much time onto one side of an LP. Harry Connick Jr.'s Lofty's Roach Souffle fits 35 minutes onto one side of the record, and it sounds weak and noisy. I got it for I see why. 🤣

I can't really explain why some titles sound worse today, other than poor sources used and/or poor mastering choices. I bought a 180g Zenyatta Mondatta (probably was in the Back to Black series) and it sounds lifeless compared to the original vinyl. No clue as to what they used for a source. But then again, it's a Universal vinyl release, and theirs for the most part are complete and utter rubbish. (If they don't mess up the mastering, they take a beautiful mastering and have it pressed poorly, to where it's noisy or off-center.) The Nirvana Nevermind reissued by Universal sounded horrible in both digital and vinyl form. Someone "smashed" the dynamics in the mastering stage.

With most of the new/current releases on vinyl I've purchased, they have all sounded very close to the digital versions.

It does depend on the reissue program, also. I have a batch of Music On Vinyl pressings of the Depeche Mode catalog, and they sound every bit as good as the digital versions. (MOV's vinyl pressing quality is top notch--it's in the old Dutch CBS Records pressing plant.) The Led Zeppelin and Rush remasters I have also sound really good, although the Rush records are a hair soft in places. (Sometimes they needed it, though.) Yet some other catalog reissues of random artists can sound mediocre at best. 🤷‍♂️
Some perspective, purely regarding price:

Right now, Barnes and Noble online is telling me I can buy LED ZEPPELIN IV on vinyl for $26.99.

In 1971, LED ZEPPELIN IV had a suggested retail price of $5.98.

Adjusted for inflation, that's $43.96.

Barnes and Noble is actually selling me that album for what I used to get it discounted at Tower or The Warehouse---the equivalent of $3.67.

What makes this hard to do absolutes on is that prices vary wildly now.

$42.99 can get me a single LP (EAGLES GREATEST HITS) or a double LP (THE BEATLES). That's $7.77 in 1976, when the Eagles' album came out at $6.98, but it's $5.03 in 1968, when the Beatles' LP (the "White Album") did, at $8.98.

Another double LP (Pink Floyd's THE WALL) is $44.99 at Barnes and Noble. That's $12.45 in 1980 money, when it originally listed for $13.98.

I think we all have kind of forgotten about the prices of CDs back in the day. 30 years ago (yes, I'm looking this up), the typical list price was $10.98. That's $22.62 today---so, yeah, a 1993 album at $26.99 would be a little overpriced, but not much ($13.10).

20 years ago, prices were all over the map, but hot new releases were listing at $17.98, $18.98 and $19.98---20 bucks minus two pennies for Shania Twain's UP.

A 2-CD set like The Rolling Stones' 40 LICKS? $29.98.




The only thing remarkable about vinyl prices is that they are (in most cases) as low as they are and as close to the original MSRP (adjusted for inflation) as they are---especially given that there's no longer the volume that there was.
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That's what makes today's CD prices seem like such a bargain. If I were to go out and buy the hottest album on the planet on CD (Swift's MIDNIGHTS i.e.), it would cost $12.97. Even Herb's old best selling WHIPPED CREAM is selling for $11.46 on Amazon.

A vinyl version of WHIPPED CREAM is going for $19.97.
MIDNIGHTS goes for $24.97.

I still feel like CDs are the better bargain for a physical format, particularly with the vagaries of vinyl pressings.

But I understand that there's a tangible "magic" to a 12" format. I found that true in the LaserDisc days.

As a collector, I sometimes feel the urge to get BOTH versions of a new title, vinyl AND CD. Vinyl for the tangible magic or collectability factor, CD for the purity of sound. But usually, I'll simply opt for the CD.

I bought none of Herb's catalog titles on LP as I still have them all from the original days, and feel that my original pressings are probably better than the new ones. The last "old" album I bought on vinyl was Amy Grant's HOME FOR CHRISTMAS that Cracker Barrel was selling since it was on a green coke-bottle-clear vinyl pressing.
Adjusting for inflation is a mind-blower.

In 1970, I took $40 in saved-up allowance/chore and Christmas gift money and spent it on records (that week's entire KHJ Boss 30, including hitbounds and seven albums, one of them ALL THINGS MUST PASS. I may have gotten a few cents back after taxes, but let's just round up to $40.

I just ran that $40 in 1970 through the inflation calculator. I was a 14 year old kid spending the equivalent of $306.92 on records. That seems absolutely insane to me now, but didn't feel like it then.
I remember in October 1997 paying $16.99 plus tax CDN ($28.46 in 2023) for the cassette version of the Carpenters “Interpretations” (Canadian/UK release), and then a month later I had to add another $10 to that for the CD version when side 1 of the cassette went bad (side 2 played fine but side 1 decided to get all stretchy all of a sudden, even though I played both sides evenly), since the CD was $24.99 plus tax ($41.85 in 2023). For a kid who made some money cutting lawns in the summer that was a lot.

And then a few months later I bought the 2-CD version of the 1985 “Yesterday Once More” with Christmas money after special ordering it in. And as I recall that was $34.99 plus tax ($58.60 in 2023) in January 1998.
I can't remember too well what I paid for new CDs in the mid to late 90s, as I was picking up most of my CDs either used, or from discount bins, or through a discount club offering. From about 1984 onward, though, $14.99 USD seemed to be the de facto price for a new single CD, with two-CD sets being anywhere from $25-30 USD, with some "midline" CDs coming in around $10-$12 at some point in the 90s.
I can't remember too well what I paid for new CDs in the mid to late 90s, as I was picking up most of my CDs either used, or from discount bins, or through a discount club offering. From about 1984 onward, though, $14.99 USD seemed to be the de facto price for a new single CD, with two-CD sets being anywhere from $25-30 USD, with some "midline" CDs coming in around $10-$12 at some point in the 90s.
Oh my I'm starting to feel old as I was building my CD library many of those CD reissues I replaced my worn vinyl with normally ran the price range of $5.00 to $15.00 quite a big range so it was affordable and I still have them on my shelves even though I long ago ripped everything into the computer and subsequently copied the collection on SD cards and as I mentioned I do not want to buy everything again it took all my life to find evertyhing I wanted and over the years Tons and tons of money invested albeit Incrementally it really Adds up over time it's kind of mind boggling
When we first started selling CDs (pretty much from the beginning of the format) the "list price" was usually $15.98 as I remember. I kind of prided myself in having low prices on our music... much to the chagrin of my boss. We sold most of our CDs for $11.88 or $12.88. The doubles of course were more, but they were far more variable than single albums.

In 1979 I went on a post-high-school trip with two friends. We drove down the Pacific Coast. When we were in L.A. we stopped at Tower Records, and I bought five albums. I remember my friends kind of being aghast that I was spending that much on a bunch of music! They were mostly a one-at-a-time bunch, I guess. The hardest part of that was getting the records home without them being warped.
When we were in L.A. we stopped at Tower Records, and I bought five albums. I remember my friends kind of being aghast that I was spending that much on a bunch of music!
That's rather amusing as in my teen years and even in my early 20s, I would take advantage of the regional record store chain (Harmony House) having its yearly Gran Prix sale (it coincided with the race downtown), and I think every album in the store was marked down 20-25%. So, over the course of the two or three weeks of the sale, I'd buy up about a dozen titles I'd been waiting for. I can't think of anyone else in my circle of friends at the time who would do that, except for one buddy of mine--he'd buy maybe two or three during that time.

The best deals came from a favorite store that carried used and new records--they'd sell new releases in the early 80s at $4.95 the first week they were out (Synchronicity, Powerlight, etc.). The list price by then had to be at least $7.98.

Nowadays I can hardly find new releases to get excited about...
There was sort of a tier of pricing in L.A.

Wallach's Music City sold at list price, unless there was a sale. $4.98 was $4.98.

Department stores (Sears, Montgomery Ward, The Broadway, White Front) with record departments knocked a dollar off, so $3.98.

The Wherehouse ( a Southern California chain that sprang up in the very early 70s) sold for $3.69.

Tower Records (a Northern California chain that moved into L.A. and grew through the 70s) went with $3.29.

And, my favorite---which I've discussed before, including with a former employee who apparently is/was a member of this site---Crane's Records in Inglewood, which appears to have been a wholesaler/rackjobber who went into business for himself. Three small storefronts and albums sold literally directly out of the boxes they came in, at $2.49 for $4.98 list.
We used to buy a lot of LPs in box lots (usually 20 or 25 copies) and sell 'em at rock-bottom prices. We got to be pretty well known for that. After the initial box or two were sold, we'd move to the regular price - in most cases we were $1.19 off list, so a $7.98 album would sell for $6.79.

One of the biggest "leaps of faith" I ever made was on Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive. I'd heard of Frampton before because he'd been on A&M for years and he had one album in particular called Frampton's Camel, so I thought he was probably sort of weird based on that. But then this single "Show Me The Way" came out and sounded great, and there was a LOT of buzz on his new live album, so I took a deep breath and ordered a box of it. It took off like a shot; I think we sold that for $7.99 or something like that -- most stores had it "on sale" for around 10 bucks. I think cost on it was in the $6.50 range.

Another big risk I took was on Fleetwood Mac's Tusk. I still remember the initial order on that one. It was over $750 cost altogether, the most I'd ever spent on one title. Pretty wild for a little small-town music store. I think I told that story on another thread, but I can still visualize that stack of LPs sitting on the counter and wondering how I was ever going to sell them all.
Kind of interesting to note that eight months later, vinyl prices really haven't changed all that much. There are some outliers, but audiophile vinyl labels have in most cases left their list prices alone, a few of them having had a slight nudge early in the year but certainly not anywhere near 30%. Blue Note's Classic Vinyl series is still the same as it was. I don't follow mainstream releases but the few I've seen pop into my feed at Amazon are on average about what they've always been for the past couple of years.

It might not hold true in other countries but at least in the US, prices have been relatively calm from what I've seen here. I was going to factor in exchange rates but, given the article was posted by the Toronto Sun, the exchange rate is very similar to what it was in January.


Current CAD/USD exchange rates:

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