Monday 23 October 2017

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

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

Al Dunne

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.

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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