LA’s Rockaway Records Reopens, Focuses On Vinyl

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This plan – to focus on the more profitable part of the business – grew out of the pandemic and the door-to-door orders that followed, sending more music fans online to shop and research collectibles. The online music resale market Discogs reports that its vinyl sales have increased by more than 25% and estimates that sales of vinyl and related products increased by 35% in 2020 – a trend, according to Johnson, fueled by boredom, stimulus checks and the desire to have something tangible in your hands. Vinyl is now the most popular format of physical music, on Discogs, accounting for nearly 12 million copies of the 16 million units sold in 2020. Regarding new vinyls, the mid-year report RIAA’s 2021 revealed that vinyl sales increased 94% year-over-year to $ 467. million, surpassing CD sales for the second year in a row and reversing a 30-year trend.

Johnson says he’s done some with CDs too, noting “we’re doing better than ever because all costs are down, our heads are down and we’re focused on finding the good stuff and not wasting time. on CDs – we don’t bother with them, ”he says.

And it’s not just premium vinyl that’s in demand – fans want tour posters, limited edition lithographs, flyers, vintage merchandise, and autographs. They also want articles related to bands from the 80s, 90s and 2000s. In February, an obscure 2008 LP titled Choose your weapon British breakbeat DJ Scaramanga Silk sold for $ 41,095 on Discogs. This broke the record for the most money ever paid for an album on the site, beating a copy of Prince’s Black album, which sold for $ 27,500 in 2018.

Johnson believes that much of the collectibles and rare vinyl market is rejuvenating, mainly due to two ascending demographic groups: Gen X and Millennials, who are primarily interested in groups like Black Flag. , Joy Division, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, Beastie Boys and Jane’s Addiction.

Being located in Los Angeles gives Johnson access to great collections and the types of people who have most of these desirable elements: music industry executives, label bosses, studio engineers. , disc jockeys and promoters who have received thousands of free promotional items over the years and never thrown them away.

While he viewed the huge Amoeba music store in Hollywood as his main competitor, he now finds himself up against big auction houses. His focus, solely on rock’n’roll, gives him an advantage because “we know a lot more than all the big auction houses. for $ 500 is available here for $ 50, ”Johnson says.

Johnson is confident in his ability to properly price items on the market, like an early ’90s Nirvana shirt he’s trying to move for $ 1,000. Most people would have a hard time choosing the shirt from a range of newer Nirvana t-shirts, and if necessary, Johnson employs experts to help verify the authenticity of an item. For this particular shirt, Johnson examines the fabric, checks that the label on the shirt matches the label on other shirts from the early ’90s, and looks at the ink in the screen printing to get an idea of ​​how long it was. has been applied. The shirt is genuine, he concludes, and it’s rare, in good condition and from one of the biggest bands of its time. These four things make this a vintage $ 1,000 Nirvana shirt.

It’s the secret sauce, Johnson says: being able to see things that aren’t obvious to others, putting together clues that tell a bigger story. It’s something he’s been doing his whole life – but even he didn’t expect it would take a pandemic to see an opportunity to do what he loves, his way. Now that he has solidified his plans for the future, he can focus full time on hunting down hidden gems and rare finds just begging to be discovered.


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