Vinyl and Ebay: A Fascinating Relationship (Volume Two)
At some point last year, an acquaintance made me aware of RecordFlipper, a blog that aims to serve as an investment tip sheet for the release and future releases of hyperlimited vinyl titles. Before providing a special subscriber’s service (known as “The List”), the information provided on the site was of an experiential nature, or was presented as predictive advice combined with real enthusiasm about the records and releases covered. It is mostly limited to brand-new releases or records that have been released within the last year or two. Let’s say a label's site or blog still has a few copies of a title for sale, and it is out-of-print everywhere else and going for good scratch on eBay... these sorts of tips can be found on RecordFlipper as well. And the HFIC (or “Head Flipper In Charge”) has damned fine taste in music, especially in the heavier stuff that dominates my own ventures into new music.
When I was clued in to the blog’s existence, it was done through vitriol and general negativity. As in, “Have you heard about this asshole’s blog...?” The nonflipping record consumer’s hyperreactionary approach to the idea and practice of flipping records is one of almost unanimous knee-jerk hatred and criticism. While I myself see both (intensely imbalanced) sides to the whole affair, and have flipped a record or two in my day, the immediate poo-pooing of record flipping and selling on eBay (plus the resulting stigma attached to it) is cultural fallout that I find to be a little ridiculous. It’s almost become another “Saturday Night Live sucks these days” or “Fuck Pitchfork!” or “Steve Albini Is An Asshole!” for people who want to make an incendiary gesture but don’t want to deal with all that troublesome stuff like being passionate about your viscerally delivered opinions or, most importantly, being able to back them up with facts and personal reasoning.
So, upon perusing the site, I wasn’t surprised to notice that several of the posts were based on the blog’s receipt of criticism and hate mail. I thought that some interview potential was there, seeing as how I had conceptualized this series of writing by that point.
As for “The List," well, after months of posting tips and seeing how much people were making off of them, the mind behind RecordFlipper decided that a $100 annual subscription was in order. Nowadays, subscribers get the sort of content that used to flow freely on the site, and despite a promise to continue posting at least some of what used to constitute all of RecordFlipper, it appears that the focus is now entirely behind the consultant-to-subscriber curtain. RecordFlipper has not featured any new posts in 2013.
Head dog “RF” in response to my interview inquiry…
Sorry it's taken me a little while to get back to you. I'm NYC-based, and there was that little storm that passed through a few days back. LOL.
Anyway, we all read your recent piece on VICE.com about Ebay and record selling and got a chuckle out of it. Do you post to Waxidermy and/or Termbo? A lot of the expressions you use in your writing remind me of things written on those boards. And I am not unaware of what has been written on those boards about my blog. Anyway, an email interview would be cool. But to let you know up front I will most definitely be using a pseudonym (RecordFlipper or RF). Since launching the RecordFlipper blog I've had people trying to gather/spread my personal information (name, address, where I work, what name I sell on Ebay under etc), to what bizarre end I can only guess. I've also had people threaten/try to hack into my email account, my PayPal account and into the private message board we set up when we launched The List. I also had some guy claiming to be a music industry professional buy up the .com, .net, and .org URLs that go with RecordFlipper; then write to taunt me about it. Crazy, right? The blog gets some pretty vicious hate mail: I'm used to & over it. The very idea of flipping records seems to drive some folks completely insane. How sad for them. So, sure, whenever you want to start, go right ahead. I'll try to respond sincerely and quickly. But please note that I have a serious full-time job, a part time job (selling records), a second part-time job (advising a roster of clients on what to buy and how/when to sell it), and a family. In other words, I don't have too much free time. But it's all good, as the kids say.
Looking forward to your first question.
Coming away from my first installment with the assumption that I might post on Termbo or Waxidermy, it appears that some of my goofing around didn’t really sink in, but that’s OK. To clarify: I do not post to Termbo or Waxidermy. More importantly, I do not write pseudonymously. Anything. Anywhere. At any time.
[PLEASE NOTE: the blog’s “Jake” answered my interview questions. I am aware that it could be the same person as “RF”, for my purposes and that of the reader, this doesn’t really matter....]
Sure enough, the record sold out in under a day, and from reading his social media communications, I could tell that “Hypocrite” was a little suspicious about how this all went down. Our subscribers began to try to flip the album on Ebay at a highly inflated price, because, hey, that’s what we do! Anyway, “Hypocrite” noticed this and started laying down the “justice hammer” the only way he could. It seems like “Hypocrite” matched up information he found in these Ebay listings to people who had pre-ordered the record from him. So apparently “Hypocrite” did manage to find out who a couple of these flippers were, and he cancelled their pending orders.
Now here is where the story gets juicy! About a week later we noticed that someone had put up an auction for the SOLD OUT limited edition record that “Hypocrite” had released. Guess whose auction it was? It was listed by the one and only “Hypocrite Records,” who’d cancelled multiple orders straight from his label, obviously so he himself could sell the record at a highly inflated price, all the while saying it was sold out and complaining that flippers had bought up all his product! You can take away what you want from this story, but I wanted to at least explain some of the nonsense that we encounter on our side.
Now, using a sample from our own subscribers, I can tell you that we have a whole array of different people using our services. I would say 75 percent of the people subscribed are in it purely for the money, which is what we expected; then we’ve got financially stable individuals who are just looking to add some rare and unique collectibles to their collections. And lastly, we have some who are solely into it for the music. They just have that need to find and explore every musical genre and get that thrill of finding the next great album.
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