Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Post-rocktoberfest 2008: The True Cost of UK Post-Rock
Man, the ol' record-buying habit certainly started to get a bit out of control last year. There were numerous precipitating factors but a lot of it had to do with the existence of eBay. Nowadays, if you want a record, you can be pretty sure that it'll come up on eBay eventually, no matter how obscure the artist is.

So it was that I started buying classic UK post-rock vinyl. Like a lot of people, I spend a significant proportion of my record-buying cash on things I enjoyed as a youth (via the radio, dubbed cassettes etc.) but didn't have the funds to actually invest in, at the time.

It's weird that people can only afford to own much of the music they love once they get to an age at which music is no longer the be-all-and-end-all of their lives. It's important for us aging vinyl snobs to remember that we've had many of our most intense musical experiences via low-quality, high convenience media. Honestly, what's the difference between a song taped off a crackly radio show and a low-bit MP3 downloaded from some bozo's blog?

Anyway, last year's UK post-rock catch-up yielded some real gems, including the Spoonfed Hybrid LP and Papa Sprain's "Flying to Vegas" 12". But it turned out to be surprisingly expensive. Here's the thing: there is a market for UKPR but it's a very small one. Therefore, it's potentially worth a seller's while to put a choice post-rock item on eBay but there's no guarantee that said item is going to spark a major bidding war. Chances are there's only one person out there who's looking for it, so the seller is pretty much forced to fix a relatively high minimum bid or put the item up as an expensive "Buy it Now" item.

This year, the ol' record-buying habit has been kept under control by the setting of a strict monthly budget, most of which gets spent at Zulu, on electronica special orders. Buying stuff on eBay is pretty much out of the question. This is partly because of shipping, which can easily add 10 or 15 bucks to the price of a record. But it largely has to do with the inflated prices of the items I'm looking for. In any store, these records would go straight to the dollar bin but on eBay they can cost as much as $40 - before shipping!

And the fact is that - more often than not - nobody bids on this stuff. Who wants to pay $55 for a dollar record? If these prices are too high for me then who the hell is going to pay them? Behold! I am The World's Greatest UK Post-rock fan and I am not prepared to blow my entire monthly record-buying allowance on something that I should - by rights - be able to pick up for a buck or two.

Perhaps I'll have to start picking my way through the dollar bins, depressing as that thought may be. Who knows what may be hiding there?

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