Expanding your vinyl record collection requires plenty of time and money. After all, vinyl records are almost always pricier and harder to find than CDs and digital music files. But how much should you spend on a vinyl record?
How much you should spend on a vinyl record is determined by your budget. The average price for a brand-new vinyl record is about $30, and used records can sell for as little as $1. But rare and in-demand vintage vinyl records can sell for thousands of dollars.
This article will discuss how much vinyl records cost and explore how you can save money while adding records to your collection.
Purchasing Records for Your Collection: How Much Is Too Much?
Determining how much is too much to spend on a vinyl record is challenging, as the final decision comes down to your budgetary limits and preferences. That said, $30 is considered an average amount to spend on a single vinyl record LP.
Naturally, average prices vary depending on your chosen record’s:
Like-new or never-before-used vintage records in high demand, like nearly all original The Beatles albums, are often the costliest, while heavily used obscure records tend to be the most budget-friendly options.
Recently released vinyl records from popular recording artists today strike a happy medium between these two extremes. Still, your tastes, reasons for building a vinyl record collection, and budgetary limits will help you set a spending limit when buying records.
When To Spend Less
If you’re unwilling to shell out $30 every time you’d like to add an album to your vinyl record collection, you’ll be glad to know that many used albums a priced well below average.
So, if your primary focus is creating a massive collection, regardless of vinyl condition or artist obscurity, you could add albums for as little as $1 per record. Vinyl record bundles designed for crafting purposes tend to cost even less.
For example, you can score 100 random 12” (30.5 cm) vinyls for just $10. The only downsides to this deal are that some records might be badly scratched, and you don’t have any choice in what LPs, EPs, or singles you receive.
But if you’re more focused on quantity over quality, these types of low-cost vinyl record bundles could help you spend less and build your collection more quickly.
Of course, there are instances when spending more than the average price is the better choice.
When To Spend More
Sticking to the average price or below is a fantastic way to ensure you don’t overspend on vinyl records. But there are times when you might want to spend more than the average price.
For example, you might want to spend more on a vinyl record when it’s:
- One of your favorite albums or singles.
- A limited edition release.
- Rare or challenging to find.
If you’re building a curated collection of vinyl records featuring only your favorite albums and artists, you’ll likely spend more than a casual collector—initially, at least.
Once you’ve amassed full discographies or checked off all the LPs on your “must-have” list, your spending will likely dwindle or stop altogether. That is until your favorite bands and musicians release new albums on vinyl.
Collectors that want to build a for-profit vinyl record collection might also spend more on specific records, especially limited-edition ones.
That’s because limited-edition albums and box sets can quickly appreciate, making them solid investments. Sure, these types of vinyls cost far more than standard-release versions, but there’s virtually guaranteed to turn a profit.
Rarity is another reason you might spend more on a vinyl record.
Let’s say you’re looking for a vintage record like Joy Division’s 1978 An Ideal for Living. Only about 1,000 of these records were pressed and released, and most were immediately pulled from store shelves due to the album’s controversial cover image.
Getting your hands on the original version of this EP is challenging and costly. If you can find one for sale, expect to spend between $200 and $5,000.
For more information on budgeting for vinyls, check out my article on whether a vinyl collection is worth the money: Is Collecting Vinyl Records Worth It? How to Decide
How To Find Budget-Friendly Records
No matter your reasons for collecting vinyl records or your budgetary limits, there are several ways to minimize spending and still find those must-buy LPs and EPs. Combining all of the following strategies while you add to your collection is the best way to avoid overspending.
Let’s review each option to ensure you spend less while enjoying more.
Browse Bargain Bins at Your Local Record Store
Is there a record store in your area? If so, you might be closer to scoring a bundle of affordable vinyls than you think.
After all, most record stores have “bargain bin” sections that are chock-full of budget-friendly LPs, EPs, and singles. These are typically priced between $1 and $10, though every store’s concept of what’s a bargain price, and what’s not, differs.
While you’re unlikely to find a high-value album in your local record store’s bargain section, you might find interesting and obscure titles that pique your interest. The only potential downside to these vinyl records is that they’re often heavily used.
As a result, records purchased from the bargain bins might produce scratchy sounds, skip, or show significant signs of wear and tear. Although a vinyl record can last indefinitely when properly maintained, most only have a few hundred plays in them before degrading.
Online marketplaces and storefronts are valuable resources for collectors of all types. You can find virtually any album ever released by searching online, and the more marketplaces you search, the higher your chance of finding the best deals on your favorite LPs and EPs.
When searching for specific vinyl records, you’ll want to check out:
Vinyl records listed on these sites vary between $0.01 and $1 million. Overall, the Discogs Marketplace has the lowest prices, with eBay being the second-best in terms of low-cost vinyls.
Additionally, eBay and the Discogs Marketplace have millions of vinyl record listings. Consequently, you’re bound to find exactly what you’re looking for and at the best prices by searching these online marketplaces.
Utilize Local Marketplaces To Discover Used Records
Often, you can save a small fortune on vinyl records by buying them from local private sellers. Yard sales are a fantastic resource for vinyl collectors. But yard and garage sales aren’t always advertised well, so finding them can be tricky.
Fortunately, you can access local marketplaces in a variety of ways. For example, you can check out local listings by using the following:
- Facebook Marketplace
Each platform has unique advantages and potential drawbacks, but all allow you to search for specific items using a search field and keywords. To find vinyl records for sale in your area, all you need to do is type “vinyl record” into the provided search field and browse listings.
Naturally, there are some general safety rules when purchasing vinyls locally via marketplace platforms. For example, it’s vital to never meet sellers in private locations, such as a residence, or provide personal details like your address.
Subscription Services: An Alternative Option
There are subscription services for virtually everything, from meals to dog toys. But did you know that you can also build your vinyl record collection via subscription boxes? If you’re not in a hurry to amass tons of records and primarily buy vinyls for pleasure instead of profit, a vinyl record subscription service could be a worthwhile investment.
Most of these subscriptions mail out a single LP each month. Even better, the subscription fee is typically around the average cost of a single album (about $30). So, instead of spending hours browsing in-store shelves, bargain bins, or online listings for a new record to add to your collection, you could just receive one in the mail every month.
Choosing this method might not appeal to all collectors, especially those looking for specific albums. But a vinyl record subscription service could be a wise choice if you’re looking to rein in your spending while still building upon your current collection.
However, be careful with the fine print on these services, as they tend to have clauses that might end up causing you to spend more money than you intended.
The amount you should spend on a vinyl record varies depending on your budget, personal preferences, and reasons for collecting vinyls.
If you want to collect vinyl records for profit (i.e., re-sell vinyls to private buyers), you should only spend more than average on a record if it’s a limited-edition release or exceptionally rare and in high demand.
Individuals who collect and listen to vinyl records for pleasure might spend more to acquire their favorite albums. But if you don’t mind listening to random or used LPs and EPs, you can spend far less than the $30-per-record average.