CD Resale Market Booming
NPR’s “All Things Considered” recently visited Ameoba Records, the largest secondhand music dealer in the world, and discovered music lovers are digging deep into their music and video collections to raise cash.
“We’re getting people bringing in bags and suitcases and just bulk,” says Tony Green, who manages the Amoeba outlet in San Francisco. “They’re just selling everything.”
I suppose when you think about it, it’s not that much of a sacrifice really, especially if you’ve dumped your entire collection onto your computer or into your iPod. Unless you’re one of those purists like me who wants to have a physical album/CD for your collection – which, of course, is the reason one entire room of my house is filled with music.
Green told NPR Amoeba has been so besieged by people desperate for cash the company has been forced to house a lot of the music fans are bringing in at its Oakland warehouse – and he means a lot.
“I would say there’s probably about 60 pallets,” Green says.
At 6,500 CDs per pallet, that’s nearly 40,000 CDs. Amoeba will sell some of them during the summer tourist season. They’ll ship the rest off to other stores in the U.S. and abroad.
Wow. That’s a lot of copies of “Come On Over,” the “Bodyguard” soundtrack and “Jagged Little Pill.” (Those are the top selling albums of the ’90s according to Amazon, btw.)
While all that discounted music is a great deal for collectors with cash to spend, it’s meant stores have had to lower the amount of money they pay.
Amoeba isn’t alone in the sudden influx of used product. Boston’s Newbury Comics is also swamped.
“We’ll see 20, 30 people a day that will bring in five to 20 CDs or five to 20 DVDs,” says Sarah Fee, who works at Newbury’s Faneuil Hall location. She said that about 75 percent of their sellers are motivated by a payout.
“We hear a lot of sob stories, unfortunately,” Fee says. “People that need money for bills or need money to live.”
Fee’s comment raises a rather interesting subplot to this story. Employees at Amoeba and other stores are now finding themselves listening to the woes of sellers like Peter Wall, who found himself at the store after his hours were cut at work and his car broke down.
“It was paycheck to paycheck at that point,” Wall says, “and that just put me under.”
Unfortunately, that’s a story that’s being told more and more often these days.
Finally, here’s an interesting question: Once vinyl albums and CDs are gone for good, what will people sell? Who’s going to buy a used MP3?
Read or listen to NPR’s complete coverage of the burgeoning used-music market here.