“What Makes An Expert In Vinyl Records?”
WDGY’s Mr. Zero’s PsychoGello Vinyl Radio Show
Article #5-vE: Nov 2017 (MZI #80)
By: RLSchwinden aka MrZerr0
I once read an article that stated “Once a person has logged 10,000 hours in their chosen occupation they are then considered an expert”
> My Music History<
I started collecting Vinyl Records back in 1969, I bought my 1st Non-Children’s Record in May 1973 The Beatles “Blue” 1967 -70 LP when it had just came out, I have since worked in many aspects of the “Music Business” I started out in the “Magic Acid Band” a “Beatles Tribute Band” from 1980-81, from there I went to the Punk Band “Palace Guard” from 1982-83, I then worked in Concert Promotions for “Terry Dre Presents” until 1983, from there I toured the Mid-West (IA. MN. NE. SD. ND. MT.) with the Cover & Original Band “High Fever” in 1983. Then I was in the Covers & Original Band “Scepter”.
I then sold Turntables, Cassettes Decks & CD Players, TVs & VCRs & records at Serv. Merch. from 1984-85. I was then hired on with “RecordShop Inc.” out of Golden Valley, MN. from 1986 to 1993. I was a “picker” for “Archives LLC” in Des Moines, IA. from 1987 -1994, I was then hired on by “Wherehouse Ent.” out of Torrance, CA. from 1993-95, as the Retail CD business shrank I went to “Best Buy Co.” in Mpls, MN. from 1996 -98, I left them for “Wax Works Ent.” out of Owensboro, KY. from 1998- 2000, until “Trans World Ent.” (fye) in Albany, NY. purchased what was left of the retail chains, I was with them from 2001 to 2005, from there I went to “DiscLand” in Bloomington, MN. from 2005 -2009, where I left & then I opened “Mr. Zero’s Inc” in April 2009.
I have contributed to books on the music artists: The Monkees, Michael Nesmith, KISS & U2 & Tommy Bolin (Sioux City, IA.) I started writing a monthly music column for St. Cloud “BUZZ” in April 2011, then “Roseville Patch.Com” in Feb 2013 both are also available at www.MrZeroS.Com “Blog” section. I have been in 4 local films from 2011-2017 & a Documentary on “VHS” out of NYC “Adjust Your Tracking”. I have performed “Stand-Up Comedy” in 2013, I have been in the bands “MrZERo” a cover band from 2012-2015 & “Action GO!” original band in 2014 &
Black Sabbath Tribute Band “Never Say Die” in 2016 & the KISS Tribute Band “KISSin Time” since 2013. I have appeared on local radio KFAI at least once a year since 2012, & since Jun 2017 I have my own radio show on WDGY Sunday mornings @ 10:30am”Mr. Zero’s PsychoGello Vinyl Radio Show”. This year I started booking bands for a local convention “Crypticon” so since this is my 37th year in the music business I have logged roughly 70,000 hours in the Music Business … I guess that makes me an expert.
While I like records, & my show uses Vinyl Recordings, I am actually a CD guy I LOVE CDs ! now MP3 Downloads are cool in the fact you can hear a Recording there might only be 1 left of, in the entire world, myself, I want to own my own music, I do not want to continue to re-purchase songs, every time, I am forced to invest in a new digital device Ex. Computer, I-phone, etc.
>Music History 101<
In 1948 the CBS Record Company introduced the full length “LP” running at 33 1/3 RPMs usually containing 6 songs per side. With the Vinyl manufactured from the late 50s to the mid 60s many LPs were made up from the Artists 45 Singles they had released, generally an artist would release 3 to 5 singles and if they had at least 3 Top 40 Hits, the label would put out an LP, which was basically a “Greatest Hits” comprised of their previously released singles. For example Sam Cooke released 37 Singles from 1957 -64 to equal 74 songs total & 12 LPs from 1967 -64, there were still 18 songs that never made onto an LP. Albums released from the mid 60s to the late 70s were referred to as “Catalog Titles” sometimes an artist would release a “Live Concert” LP after a major successful tour, or as a filler between LPs when the artist took time off for whatever reason. Artists rarely released “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of” compilations on Vinyl as it would kill sales of their regular “Catalog Titles”, take Ac/Dc for example they have yet to release a “Hits” or “Best” CD much less an LP. Sometimes when there was a “Hits” LP released, some songs used on the LP, were not “Hits” at all, they just cost less to use for the release take Paul Revere & Raiders “Greatest Hits” from 1967 one song used was never even a 45 Single, so how could it be a hit, because the criteria for the Billboard Charts, in order for a song to be on the charts it had to be a 45 Single, until 1990 when the “Sound Scan” system went into place & reported sales directly. “Cut-Outs” were when the Record Label, decided to Stop manufacturing an Artists “Catalog” the label would make a 1 time payment to the Artist of about 40% of the standard royalty & then the label would cut the corner or drill a hole in the cover to indicate a store could not return the LP for full cost credit, the store would put the LPs in a bargain section for $2.99, $1.99 or .99 cents. As far as I can tell only WEA, MCA & BMG really sold “Cut-Outs”.
For those seeking the ultimate reproduction open Reel to Reel tapes have all the fidelity of Vinyl, and no pops or skips, however good luck finding many Pop-Rock Artists, as the Reel to Reel’s hey day was from the late 60s to the early 70s & geared towards Classical, Vocal & E-Z listening rather than Pop-Rock & then discontinued by 1984. The 33 1/3 Vinyl LP was the predominate format until about 1984, when the Am/Fm Cassette; Automobile deck became more affordable, you could then carry usually 24 to 36 of your favorite titles with you in your car or take them to a friend’s house or to a party.
When the Compact Disc hit the USA markets in Fall 1985 (1982 in Japan) I had to take a Sales Class on the format since many music artists from the 50s, 60s & 70s had disbanded or died, or their estates tied up in legalities, by 1985, for example the band “Queen”, their catalog was not released until the early 90s, several years after the CD was introduced in the USA. The Compact Disc was geared towards “Greatest Hits” “Best Of” & “Bonus Tracks” as most consumers did not want to re-purchase the band’s entire catalog for a 2nd time (Cassette) or a 3rd time (Vinyl). There is a huge myth about “Liner Notes”’being more extensive in Records vs. CDs, but especially Cassette. True there were usually some kind of liner notes with Vinyl, almost never any “Lyrics” as the was a huge industry selling “Music Song Books” for about the price of an LP, an LP usually sold for about $7.98 & the music book for the same LP was about $5.95. Cassettes did have some liner notes but usually too small to really read, the CD along with bonus tracks, not contained on the original release, usually came with extended liner notes & lyrics.
Interesting retail Note: Vinyl records had an ID code of #1, Cassettes ID code was #4, 8-Tracks ID code was #2, which was later re-assigned to Compact Disc, VHS had the ID code of #3.
I started in 1985 as Cassette was creeping up to 50% of the market by mid 1986 Cassette was 80% of the market sales. So the most popular best selling artist like; Cure, Iron Maiden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N Roses, The Smiths & Metallica: 80% of their titles sold on Cassette, & about 5% on Vinyl & 15% on CD, as the youth market did not want to buy Vinyl because of the mentality “My Dad bought Vinyl, I buy Cassettes” so you see, fans you can pound the beat checking every record store in the area, or scan the Intronetts forever, looking for those late 80s “Metal” titles in hopes you’re going to find them, the simple fact of the matter is there are not many left 30 years later, simply because most people who purchased that kind of music bought it on Cassette, NOT Vinyl, no self-respecting Metal Head, would be caught dead buying vinyl, how would they play in their vintage muscle car ? Were some records made? Sure. Were some records sold? Sure, but you are talking of every 100 sold 80 of them were on Cassette, 15 on CD & 5 on Vinyls.
By 1991 CD had become 60% of the market by 1996 many stores started dropping the Cassette format, because the youth market’s response was “My Mom bought Cassettes, I buy CDs” until the USA stopped manufacturing Cassettes in Fall 2002, just as in the 2000s the youth said “My Dad had CDs, I use Napster & Lime Wire” now the youth say “My Mom did downloads, I buy ‘Vinyls’ “
> It Was 30 Years Ago Today<
In Fall of 1987 N.A.R.M. National Association of Record Merchants, & the 6 Major Record Labels: WEA: Warner Bros, Electra & Atlantic, CBS: Columbia & Epic, CEMA: Capitol, EMI & Angel, BMG: RCA, A&M & Arista, UNI: MCA, & PGD, decided in their yearly meeting that 1987 would be the last year of Vinyl Records as Cassette had taken over as he leading selling format by 80% in the Summer of 1986 & the Labels had invested so much in the CD format, they would now have to force the hand of the buying public as Vinyl Records were still about 5% of the recorded music sold & the new CD format was only selling about 15 to 20% despite the Labels push to make this the chosen format.
In early December 1987 the National Re-Call Memo was sent out, by all 6 Major Labels, to ALL of the RecordStores across the nation, each store could Return all of their Vinyl Record Inventory for credit towards more Compact Disc Inventory, it worked out to roughly 2 Vinyl LPs (cost $5.25) could be traded in for 1 CD (cost $12.75), back then CDs came in a cardboard box 12″ tall & 6″ wide to fit easily in the Vinyl Record shelves most record-stores still had in their stores.
Some of the Record Labels allowed stores to “Special Order” Vinyl copies of certain Record Titles up until October 1989, as there would be No More Vinyl manufactured in the USA as of Jan 1990. A strange thing some Record Labels did still send out “Promotional Copies” (Ex. CBS had a Gold Stamp, CEMA punched out a corner, WEA used a Sticker) of Vinyl Record LPs to certain RecordStores, until 1989, my guess is, there were sent to the stores that historically sold more Vinyl than some other stores did. Many do not realize or forgot in the early 90s, there was a sense of pride in throwing your vinyl record collection, Into The Garbage … this is why there is such a scarcity of all the Really sought after titles, they were thrown into the trash, I know that’s what my good friend Tom did, he did offer “Who would want them?”
While the USA halted 99% of all Vinyl production in 1991 most Record presses were dismantled or refurbished to CD pressers or sold to Eastern Europe, as the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1990, Eastern bloc countries started to manufacture Vinyl Records, in some countries, for the 1st time ever, bypassing Cassettes altogether moving onto Compact Discs, giving the Illusion that records were manufactured well into the 90s, (in the USA) they sinply were not, these are ALL Foreign pressings from the UK usually 5000 copies or less GEMA (Germany) a 1000 copies or less & other Eastern European Countries: Russia: (Melodiya was the ONLY Record Label in Russia), Poland, Croatia etc produced up to 1000 pressings or other 3rd world countries who hadn’t even had the Cassette yet. In the USA there were some special editions released on Vinyl: KISS, Nirvana, Neil Young, Guns N Roses & Pearl Jam. Every so often an artist would try to gain so attention by releasing their “New Release” on Vinyl, we like most CD Stores, such as the ones I worked for then, simply asked “What are we suppose to do with this, have a vinyl section of 3 artists of the past 2 years?” oh, and, still, no one bought them.
> Future Has Passed<
I saw the Vinyl resurgence trending in Summer 2008 while managing a RecordStore in MPLS. I urged the owner we open a 2nd Store “East of the River” he suggested I strike off on my own, so myself & a group of 12 or so others opened Mr. Zero’s in Apr 2009 (sorry folks it’s true). Initially I only wanted to carry Vinyl Records, CDs & Cassettes, but we found out very quickly, the Titles Customers were looking for were in VERY Short Supply: Zappa, Neil Young, Yardbirds, Tom Waits, Stevie Ray Vaughan, T-Rex, Talking Heads, Smiths, Rush, Replacements, Ramones, Pink Floyd, Gram Parsons, New Order, Metallica, Megadeth, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Kinks, Joy Division, Iron Maiden Kiss, Jimi Hendrix, Gypsy, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Dio, Cure, Costello, Clash, Bowie, Black Sabbath & Beatles, 60s R&B, 60s Blues & Jazz, 70s Reggae, 70s Punk, 80s Metal, so we were forced to expand our inventory to include: Vintage Video Games, Retro Toys & Classic Movies too. Since Mr. Zero’s 55113, we have seen a lot of “RecordStores” come & go some within a year’s time of them opening, I am sure it goes something like this “I love music, I have some records, I will open the best RecordStore in the area, those other guys do not know what they are doing”
The USA started to manufacture Vinyl on a large scale in April 2012 after the sales of CDs plummeted, & there is no “real” money to be made from “Downloads” (as I understand it the Artist makes .10 per song while Apple makes .50 & the Label who owns the music makes .50)
>Why, is Vinyl making a come-back?<
The bottom line is in 2017 a consumer still cannot make their own vinyl records at home, what do I mean, a person can record a Cassette or VHS, they can Burn a CD or DVD, but you cannot make a “Vinyls” at home. There is a sonic difference between Vinyl Records & Compact Discs & Digital Downloads. As vinyl reproduction is a friction based reproductive system, it offers a sound spectrum not heard on the Compact Disc, however CDs have much higher tones & no “pops’ but they can skip too like vinyl, a Digital Down load is literally only 30% of the original recording, it has been compressed & compressed again so the consumer can fit 10,000 songs on a device the size of a candy bar, same goes for
Last year 10 record presses were made in Germany & 3 were shipped to the USA, & this year Sony opened 1st USA record Press since 1989, more proof records ceased in the 80s, (NO 90s or 2000’s Vinyls folks, there was NO demand)
In closing, Vinyl fans, you need to accept the scientific fact that Vinyl Records came to a close in 1987 & really did not resurface on a large scale until 2012 that’s 25 years of almost No Vinyl production. There were a couple Independent Record Labels putting out re-issues or never issued on Vinyl before, like Sundazed a really cool record label, however I have to think they production numbers were well under 5000 total. I know when I was interviewed by: Universal & WEA record Companies, about getting some titles issued; I was asked “Can you guarantee you can sell 5000 copies in less than a year? If not, please, understand we do not even fire up the presses for anything less than 5000 copies”
>Lack of knowledge on History<
Today, the internet can be a wonderful thing because some 14 year kid in Sauk Rapids, MN can discover a rare R&B artist like “Larry Williams & Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson” from 1967 “Two For The Price Of One” on OKEH Records, BUT try to find that record in the real world, back in 1996 I found 1 copy in St. Louis for $70.oo (+Tax), I ended up ordering the CD for $20.oo, instead. A fan or collector needs to consider the “Regional Factor”, in Minnesota, in the 60s the masses were buying “Polka” & “Christmas” Records not obscure R&B records from artists that primarily played what was then called the “Chitlin Circuit” from Chicago through Memphis to New Orleans. For example take the “Chess” record label 1 of their best selling artists sold a whopping 5000 copies in the early 60s, so over 5 decades later, how many of those survived, take into consideration, people moving & taking only necessities & leaving their records behind, because their tastes have changed or they split for that partner who liked that kind of music, or the humidity of the basement, the heat in the attic, the floods in Iowa, the earthquakes in Calif. the sweltering heat of Arizona, the stifling humidity of Florida, all of these factors have made the really rare, & sought after titles that much more expensive, so fans, if & when you see that elusive title, open up your wallet, do not ask if the shop will they take less (they won’t because everyone else is looking for that title too) & buy it, take it home, take care of it & enjoy for decades to come.
One thing “New” collectors should keep in mind, when it comes to “Vintage” vs. “New 180 Gram Pressings” new 180 gram pressings are by & large made from a “Digital File” that was used to create the Compact Disc or Digital Down-Load. Take the undisputed most Popular Artist of all-time “Led Zeppelin” their music was written & recorded from 1968 to 1978 on analog equipment (digital recordings began in 1982), & mixed & transferred on analog equipment for analog re-production, as I understand it new vinyl is not being made from the old original analog master tapes recorded before ‘82. So there will be a huge difference in sound re-production between the “Original Pressings” & New 180 Gram Pressings” in addition too, most new fans are playing their records on new record players, like a Crosley record player (designed to function 1 to 3 years & no place left to repair them) with a low-grade plastic needle, some are using quality component turntables like a Technics or Kenwood, but using new digital speakers, like Boze which defeats the whole purpose of analog re-production, original vinyl was meant to be played through the old huge analog speakers, folks ….
In closing, I love the music business, I have worked in it literally all of my life, Recorded music provides everything, for people, joy, sadness & memories, I have fought long & hard this past 10 years to bring it to the next generation, as Geddy Lee of “RUSH” once said “There is so much to learn & know about the things we love & are interested in”.
My hope is I reach a few music fans & help them understand what it is, exactly they are looking for. This article, as usual is dedicated to De Dee.
For more info catch my Radio show on WDGY 740am & Streaming 103.7 & read my Articles on RosevillePatch.Com
Happy 9th Thanksgiving from Mr. Zero’s 55113
Stay tuned for my 9th X-Mas Article !!!!
Mr. Zero’s *Est. 2009
1744 Lexington Ave. N.
Roseville, MN. 55113
on WDGY 740Am