How Much Are Old Records Worth? Here’s What We Found Out

Are you harboring a collection of classic rock albums mostly afraid to part with the memories of your youth? Or did you inherit a stack of records of some of the biggest acts of the 1960s and don’t know what to do with them?

They can bring you some extra cash. The trick is to be realistic about value, and separate your love of Sinatra, Streisand or Sting with market demand and condition.

“At one time the shelf that held all the Sinatra albums was 70 feet wide,” said Doug Allen, owner of Bananas Records, considered the largest record retailer in the country, and based in St. Petersburg, Florida. “We have way too much of that.”

New vinyl records are selling at the highest rate since 1991 according to Billboard magazine. In fact, sales figures hit $1 billion in 2021a 61% jump from the year before, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. The secondary market is enjoying some of the resurgence.

Music Genres Selling Well

What Bananas Records buys and sells the most are classic rock ‘n’ roll, punk and jazz albums. And that’s for around $5 — if the album and the cover are in great condition. Allen buys 500 to 1,000 albums a day and estimates he pays more than $1 or $2 an album for only about 10 percent.

Doug Allen, bottom, co-owns Bananas Records with his wife, Michelle Allen, which is one of the largest vinyl record retailers in the world with about 3.5 million records. Sonny Rollins, top, is considered one of the most important American jazz musicians and his sixth album, Saxophone Colossus, is selling at Bananas Records for $1,000. Chris Zuppa / The Penny Hoarder

“Records don’t compare to coins and stamps and books,” Allen said. “There’s not really anything that’s worth $100,000 or more.”

On the other hand, records that only sold 20,000 copies — jazz from the 1950s, early punk rock — may be worth more. Allen has seen jazz albums from that era, such as early Miles Davis, go for $500 to $700…

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