Sunday, May 16, 2010

On eBay's vinyl hawkers

In writing about the confusion over the Flaming Lips' Dark Side of the Moon release, I got to think about eBay's ecosystem of vinyl hawkers and sellers and hustlers. As far as the DSOTM release goes, a number of people are claiming to have the "super-rare!" version of the release, whether it be the green or clear version, but they neglect to tell you how they know this version or that version is actually the super-rare version. Of course, that' the point.

But it got me thinking about this whole practice. I remember on Record Store Day, the people that were in the front of the line were pretty cool about things and appeared to all be in the market for this things themselves, rather than to turn around a flip it. But there was this other guy floating around -- who was friends with one of the guys ahead of me -- who went to another store that opened earlier and promptly bought everything they would allow him to. I'm not sure what all he got, but I know he got two of the super-rare John Lennon singles bags. I heard he wanted a third (which would've been the store's entire stock) but they wouldn't let him.

At first glance, there's nothing wholly wrong with this. Personally, I don't know why you'd feel the need to buy multiple copies of something, but what the hell. But then I found out from his friend who was in line with me that he had no interest in Record Store Day and had only heard about it in the days before when he heard some of the releases would be "hot," meaning he could make a whole lot of money from selling them.

I know this is America, and we all love our capitalism and stuff, but this just rubbed me the wrong way, but I think it's unavoidable. As I documented on Record Store Day itself, one person in line with me passed up a John Lennon release so I could have one. That's what I think of when I think of Record Store Day, and this whole culture-ish thing itself. I don't think of some guy in his 40s trying to snatch up all the copies of X so he can flip them later.

But like I said, I don't really know what you could do about this from a macro standpoint. It's good that store stopped him from buying all three John Lennon releases, but he still got two. Crooked Beat had a 1-release-per-customer policy, but that means Emma and I still could've bought two of whatever and flipped it later. But we didn't.

I think the only recourse is to try to shun these people and put some pressure on them when you see them. What else can you do? Ebay's a great thing for finding records, but it has a way of creating this marauder, cut throat-type culture that you'd find at a sleazy flea market or something. That's not what this should be about, but of course a portion of it will be inevitably. That's life, I suppose.

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