Reselling vinyl on Amazon: Can you do it? Does it sell? I ship in 15 vinyl records to Amazon, and track the results.
Video: The FBA Vinyl Experiment
Did a quick video version of this article (for those who prefer video to reading):
Does reselling vinyl on Amazon work?
This is my second time writing about selling vinyl on Amazon. A lot has changed since then.
Last year, for the first time since the 1980s, sales of vinyl surpassed CDs. That makes vinyl the bestselling physical format for music.
No one is calling the “vinyl resurgence” a fad anymore. Vinyl is back.
I decided to see how vinyl sells on Amazon in the present day…
Wait, is vinyl a restricted category on Amazon?
Trying to track restrictions in media categories among Amazon sellers is dizzying. You can talk to 20 Amazon sellers, and it seems like you’ll get 20 different answers about what they are or aren’t allowed to sell.
My account is over 15 years old at this point, so that may afford me some privilege as how “gated” vinyl is for me. I don’t really know.
What I do know is, in my recent shipment of 15 vinyl records to Amazon, exactly one was declared restricted once it hit the FBA warehouse. (A Taylor Swift record, if you’re wondering. Don’t ask how I got it – long story).
Of the other 14, I wouldn’t say many of them were on small, fringe labels (the bigger labels being more likely to be restricted). Sometimes its hard to tell what labels are owned by much larger major labels, but definitely the majority of the records I shipped in were put out by major labels or labels owned by major labels. And again, only one was restricted.
(It’s actually pretty ridiculous that any vinyl would be restricted. The ostensible reason to create “gated” products on Amazon is to prevent the resale of counterfeit goods. And I really doubt any counterfeiters own vinyl pressing plants).
My shipment of 15 vinyl records
This wasn’t a grand experiment. I started with 15 records, to test the waters (this wasn’t my first time selling vinyl on Amazon, but it was my single biggest all-vinyl FBA shipment).
The records were a weird mix of vinyl I’d picked up at various sources: Some flea market & garage sale finds, some closeout stock from surplus stores, etc. (Urban Outfitters discount vinyl bin sshhhhh don’t tell anyone). Every time I found vinyl to resell, I set it aside. I’d accumulated these 15 records over the last 18 months.
The musical genres represented were mostly indie, punk, and hip hop.(Except, of course, for Taylor Swift).
I wish I had taken note of the average sales rank when I shipped them in, but I can safely say it was worse than 200,000. Which is not a good rank in the music category. The biggest artist of the set by far was Mobb Deep, and it was one of their “flop” albums, so demand wasn’t exactly huge.
Lastly, it was a mix of used and sealed records, with 5 of them being brand new.
So, do vinyl records sell on Amazon? The results
After six months, here is the tally:
Sold: 8 records
Unsold: 6 records
Restricted: 1 record
Average selling price: $28
I sold two records for $49.99. Three for approx $30. And two for approx $20.
Misc notes on selling vinyl
1. Buyers may prefer new condition vinyl: 33% of the shipment was sealed, new condition vinyl. But New condition represented 63% (5 out of 8) sales. Yes, this is a small sample size, but this could indicate a bias among Amazon customers for new condition vinyl. Which makes sense: while a slightly worn book is no big deal, a scratched record has a serious impact on the sound quality.
2. Niche artists sold best: Of the six records that remain unsold, I’d say several of them are among the “bigger” artists from the shipment – the ones I would expect to sell the quickest. And of the records that did sell, some of the artists were pretty obscure. What actually sold seemed to be a total wildcard.
3. Yes, you can sell vinyl FBA: The very fact that reselling vinyl on Amazon is possible is probably off the radar of most FBA sellers. Vinyl is perceived more as a “collectible” eBay-type product. But especially now, with the vinyl resurgence, it’s back as a legitimate music format. That means Amazon is selling it. And you can too.
My takeaway from the vinyl experiment
With vinyl sales having surpassed CD sales in the last year, AND with much higher selling prices than CDs, I can confidently declare that I now prefer reselling vinyl on Amazon to CDs (and I’ve sold a ton of CDs).
A combo of a low number of restricted titles/labels, and higher average selling prices means I will be shipping in a lot more vinyl in the future.
PS: Ever resold vinyl on Amazon? Drop a comment below.
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In trying to expand my selling into all media categories instead of just books, how do I balance that out with my current restock limit of 1,000 units? I currently have a little over 400, of which probably 99% are books. My limit has been as high as 3,600 and is now back down to 1,000. I never know where it’s going to be from day to day. Also, with vinyl & VHS wouldn’t buying testing and scratch-removal (for vinyl) equipment be a necessary investment? I’m currently ungated in most DVD’s & CD’s, but don’t know about vinyl and VHS. Finally, what about selling video games and software to round out the media category?
Peter Valley says
If you can sell most CDs and DVDs, you’ll have no issues with vinyl and VHS.
IPI score is a legitimate concern. Going to be up to each seller to assess each item and determine its potential sell-through time and to what extent it may impact their score.
Still no reason a percentage of inventory shouldn’t be “long tail” items that sit a little longer in exchange for big profits. Video games are great for that. Haven’t done much business in software.
Thanks. My IPI is currently at 576. FBA Sell-through rate is “poor” at 0.9 (bottom 40% of sellers). The other metrics are fine. I don’t know how to increase that without bottoming out a large portion of my prices.
Would you be willing to share your vinyl grading system/ criteria? Thanks for the great info Peter
Peter Valley says
The only grading I do is visually inspect for scratches. I wouldn’t ship anything into Amazon that had visible scratches, whereas I would sell such a record on eBay. Amazon customers are going to have higher standards.
I’m curious about how FBA packages vinyl records, with or without other items included in order. Did you pre-package yours at all or trust them to do it right?
Peter Valley says
I don’t overthink it. I just label and throw in the box. I’ve ordered a fair amount of vinyl from Amazon so I have a good idea about how they package it. Never had any issues. Vinyl is more resilient than people think.
I’ve been tinkering with Vinyl ever since I got a massive haul of sealed, limited edition Fallout boy vinyls from Goodwill in 2019. Obviously if you can find a sealed item for $3 that sells for $25+ it’s a win.
Right before things shut down I got another batch of sealed vinyls for a decent price, but never got around to sending them to Amazon. I ended up selling them via Ebay and that’s gone well.
I also got a large haul of vintage Vinyl that I curated into an ebay pile and local record shop pile. Got my money back from the record shop, the rest is waiting for me to list on ebay.
Used Vinyl on Amazon scares me, but I might dip my toe after reading this.
Peter Valley says
Mentioned in another comment that as long as the vinyl isn’t scratched, I’ll ship it in. Vinyl is pretty resilient and not likely to have damage that affects listening if its not visible.
Thanks for sharing your experience.