By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – For the first time since the 1980s, vinyl records are set to outpace CD sales throughout the United States. With many seeking out downloads and streaming services while others collect vinyl, CDs could be left in the past.

Two of Denver’s most prominent record shops both say CD sales have significantly dropped in the past decade.

(credit: CBS)

“LPs are definitely selling better than CDs,” said Paul Epstein, owner of Twist and Shout on Colfax Avenue.

Epstein said, while the same volume of CDs and vinyl records are sold still, the dollar value of the CD makes sales less profitable. Most used CDs sell between $3 and $5, whereas LPs typically start as low as $8.

“(CDs are) very affordable, and a great bargain for 80 minutes of clean music,” Epstein said.

To the west of Twist and Shout, Wax Trax Records manager Dave Wilkins told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas often times the draw to owning physical copies of music isn’t necessarily to listen to them.

“A big part of it is simply the artwork (on the covers,)” Wilkins said.

(credit: CBS)

While many prefer streaming services and downloads for convenience in 2020, music experts say there is still a demand for vinyl and CDs. Some stores even still sell cassette tapes.

“CDs are still very significant part of our business. There’s also still a really good value,” Epstein said.

“There is still value,” Wilkins said. “We actually have experienced a small bump up (in sales) in that last year or two. But, it’s not like it was in the old days.”

(credit: CBS)

Wilkins said one of the keys to attracting non-collectors is making sure they realize that record shops are still flourishing.

“Some people are shocked that, ‘Oh my gosh, there are still record stores around?’” Wilkins said.

Epstein said he still believes CDs will one day come back to be a hot item to own. He noted, when CDs first emerged in the music world, he couldn’t give away vinyl. Now, with social media making the albums trendy, many want them again.

“Just like vinyl being a faddish thing, not liking CDs is kind of a faddish thing right now,” Epstein said.

While most shops will only pay a dollar or two to purchase your CDs right now, some box sets for big names, like The Beatles, sell for more than $150. Twist and Shout does purchase some CDs for as little as a quarter.

(credit: CBS)

Both Epstein and Wilkins said the key to selling your old CDs is making sure they are in similar condition to when you purchased them. Deep scratches can impact a sale. Also, it was noted that not having the original case and cover in the CD is a deal breaker for the sale.

Wilkins and Epstein encouraged music enthusiasts to hold onto the copies they own, if they enjoy them. But, if they are willing to part ways, some of the CDs may be worth money.

“Listen to them again, you may be surprised at how good they sound. And, if you don’t, bring them on down. We will buy them,” Epstein said.

Dillon Thomas

Comments (2)
  1. Record Ron says:

    CD’s will come back. LP’s did. You couldn’t sell a mint copy of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours for $2 15 years ago, now it is the hottest used vinyl in the U.S…..over $10 Mint minus easy.

  2. Paul Thorne says:

    I only purchase vinyl and CD’s .I collect US roots music and usually purchase online or at record fairs.CD’s I still find attractive because of reissues of out of circulation recordings and alternative takes.I purchased my first record in 1958 (Chuck Berry) and moving home from UK to Sweden was a challenge what with stacks of 78’s needing careful attention. My regret is that I sold most of my 78’s retaining only a few Big Joe Turner ,Lightnin’ Slim and Amos Milburn.My only visit to a record shop is to one in London which I visit twice a year and in New York although that is three years’ago since.My dream is to visit record shops in New Orleans and see if I can find some really rare N O 50’s R&B
    Take care
    Best Regards

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