record store day investment

What Makes Record Store Day Releases an Investment Opportunity?

The genius idea that is Record Store Day kicked off stateside in 2008 to support independent record shops. That acorn offered 10 unique releases from the likes of R.E.M. and Vampire Weekend, as well as a free compilation LP featuring Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, Jeff Buckley, and Pearl Jam.

In the 13 years since then, RSD has become as big as a new Marvel film for record shops and collectors around the world. This year, RSD is spread across June 12 and July 17, offering over 600 releases from artists as diverse as John Coltrane, Freda Payne, Prince, Black Sabbath, the Stooges, The Who, and The Rolling Stones.

Record Store Day has always generated buy-to-sell items to realize a quick profit. But that asks the question: What vinyl is a good investment for future appreciation?

Look out for limited pressings by big or cult artists. A 15,000-copy run of something like the mono version of Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn usually indicates that you are can still pick one up years later for a reasonable price. In contrast, RSD 2012 served up just 2,000 copies of David Bowie’s Starman picture disc. This proved to be a great investment for those who picked it up at the time because mint copies are still changing hands for up to $300. Copies of Bowie’s Drive-In Saturday picture disc pressed for RSD 2013, however, sell for $30. 

In recent years, the trend has been for labels to put out fan-favorite albums by classic or collectible artists on various color vinyl editions. In my opinion, unless they are limited to 500 or 1,000 copies and not repressed, they are too common to be investments (although items like Bob Dylan’s The Original Basement Tape on pink vinyl from 2015 are recommended for your portfolio). When it comes to classic LPs, consider releases like Big Star’s Third and U2’s Songs of Innocence pressed as replica test pressings. There might be 5,000 copies of the latter, but it is creeping up in value. U2’s black and white vinyl Blackout 12-inch was so limited that many U2 fans still can’t get a copy. Pink Floyd’s 1965 (Their First Recordings) from 2015 and Foo Fighters’ Medium Rare covers album from 2011 are also good bets, as they have not been repressed.The 2011 Joy Division/New Order12” limited to 800 copies is another example of a release that has not yet been repressed, but a cheaper Joy Division punt would be the Factory 10-inch from 2010 that includes “Transmission” and seems a bargain at $25. Metallica’s Through the Never seems cheap to me considering their collectability.

RSD is all about getting your hands on the wrinkles in the vinyl fabric. In 2014, 100 copies of De La Soul and J Dilla’s Smell The Da.I.S.Y on white vinyl were pressed, making it so sought after it has been bootlegged. In 2018, 100 copies of Chaka Khan’s Like Sugar 12-inch were given away in U.K. record stores to promote the upcoming 2019 LP Hello Happiness. These hand-numbered beauties now sell for up to $300. Of course, when it comes to secret RSD 12-inch singles, the one Beatles fans want what came in 2015 when Paul McCartney pressed up 100 copies of Sweet Thrash that ended up in selected stores in the U.K. and the United States. Copies have sold for up to $1,000. Boards of Canada went one better back in 2013 by personally placing six copies of a mysterious 12-inch in UK shops. Only four have surfaced so far, and it is one of the most wanted and most expensive RSD releases listed on Discogs.  Another impossible gem is one of the 29 copies of Basil Kirchin’s The Shuttered Room issued by the collectible soundtrack, library, and exotica label Trunk Records.

On the other hand, due to the volume of RSD releases each year, many re-sale for a reasonable price, like the 500 copies of Shirley Collins’ English Songs EP. In 2014, UK singer-songwriter Paul Wellers Brand New Toy 7-inch was limited to 750 copies and sold for up to $80 in the week after RSD, but today you can buy a copy on Discogs for $10. A better investment is the version of his 2012 album Sonik Kicks only released in the U.S. as a limited edition of 600 copies of five 7-inch singles. That is worth up to $150 to Weller fans.

That said, it is not as sought-after as the first pressing of Frank Ocean’s Blond offered for sale through his website for 24 hours during Record Store Day Black Friday back in 2016; copies are selling for up to $1,000. Jack White took the limited edition to the extreme in 2012 with Sixteen Saltines as a liquid-filled, etched 12-inch that still goes for serious money – if the liquid has not leaked.

Although Record Store Day 2020 was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still canny investments to be made. Duran Duran’s A Diamond in the Mind pressed on pink vinyl is worth up to $150 and Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed on multi-colored vinyl is up to $300.

If you are looking to make an investment into an RSD release from any year, always look for items that have been unopened and are pristine. Target big or cult artists who will retain a collectible base. 

What will be good investments for Record Store Day 2021? With genres ranging from disco to thrash, speculators and collectors have a wide range of choices. Fans of ska will be keen to get their mitts on demos recorded by Jerry Dammers, the Goblin 7” L’Alba Dei Morti Viventi looks interesting, and anarcho-punk diehards will be keen to buy Crass’ Christ Alive: The Rehearsal.

Finally, one I’ll be trying to get my hands on is the repressing of Electric Wizard’s Time to Die LP on green vinyl. It’s limited to 666 copies …

Check out Record Store Day for more information about this year’s releases. Discogs is not affiliated with the RSD organization but we agree with their mission of bringing more people into record stores.

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