Monday 26 September 2016

Why selling my record collection left me in a spin

Former DJ Al Dunne regrets his decision to sell his record collection for the price of a night out

Al Dunne

Published 27/07/2015 | 02:30

Brett Taylor, from Melbourne, with his son, Campbell, 13, holding records at the Music, CD & Record Fair at Filmbase in Temple Bar. Damien Eagers / Irish Independent 24/7/2015
Brett Taylor, from Melbourne, with his son, Campbell, 13, holding records at the Music, CD & Record Fair at Filmbase in Temple Bar. Damien Eagers / Irish Independent 24/7/2015

Fifteen years working as a disc jockey on the radio meant a big collection of music. More specifically, a big collection of vinyl records. Thousands and thousands of them. This was 1995 and vinyl was almost finally dead: killed in the previous decade by the introduction of the new kid on the block - CDs. Thousands of records can take up quite a bit of space and with nearly as many CDs in the growing collection and space at a premium, something had to give. In this case it was the vinyl.

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The downside was the emotional association with so many of these great records and the radio stations and nightclubs they had accompanied me to. The upside - a bedroom which could finally be used as a bedroom and, of course, some extra cash. Surely these vinyl memories were worth enough to fit out the said bedroom and maybe even get a night out.

However, as previously mentioned, this was 1995 and people were getting rid of record players in their droves and listening to music on scratchless CDs. Ah, CDs - where, if you listened carefully enough, you could hear the crisp sound of the lead singer's cowboy boot tapping along to the beat.

How much should I ask for? At the time, singles cost about £1 each (I had a couple of thousand of those) and the albums were anywhere from £2 to £5 (another couple of thousand of those). But, not wanting to be greedy, I figured they were secondhand, so I'd be happy with £500 for the lot.

And who wouldn't want a bedroom full of hit singles and albums?

I'm not sure what was the 1995 equivalent of tumbleweed rolling through empty streets, but that's what happened for the next month as I waited for an eager buyer to call. There was nothing.

On to Plan B. Problem was, I didn't have a Plan B. I decided to head into the Georges Street Arcade in Dublin city centre, where I knew a guy who sold secondhand records. I may not get £500, but surely I'd get half that and he would still make a pretty profit. He said he'd have to see them first. I knew that if he had to trek out to the suburbs, this was surely going to hit my asking price. I could see another £50 being taken off. But he wasn't going to be that kind. He looked at the collection like a mechanic might look at a broken-down car.

Shaking his head and taking a in some deep breaths, he said: "I'll take them off your hands for £70." After some negotiating (pleading) on my part, he agreed to £75.

"And I'll take them now," he said.

It took quite a while to carry out the boxes and boxes of my old friends to his van. It didn't take that long to spend my so-called profit. I went with the night out rather than the bedroom furniture - a celebration of our radio days and nightclub excursions together.

I had forgotten most of this until recently when I went into a secondhand shop.

I was drawn to a rack at the back of the store filled with old vinyl singles and albums. Thumbing through the singles, I came across three with my name scribbled on them and the date they were hits - always a useful reference for a radio link.

How much today for the single I had dated February 1989? €1. Almost as much as I paid for it new.

I held on to the collection of CDs in the hope they might be worth something some day. Based on vinyl's recent comeback, I may be in for a windfall in about 15 years time but I won't hold my breath. Once bitten, and all that...

Al Dunne is a former programme director of Atlantic 252, Lite FM (now Dublin's Q102) and 4FM. He is now managing director of Unique Media.

Irish Independent

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