How Much Did Albums Cost In The Early 70's?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Jerryb, Nov 9, 2008.

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  1. Wilkie

    Wilkie New Member

    Richmond, VA, USA
    These Elektra prices were from 1970, before WEA was born. Keep in mind, these are just list prices, and list prices only amount to part of the entire pricing picture. It's not by accident that there are several prefix/series for some lists here. There are different wholesale costs for the various prefixes, even though they fall within the same list price. The labels had a number of ways to increase prices: Raising the wholesale without changing the list; moving individual titles from one list to another; raising an entire prefix/series from one list to another, ect.


    Abbey Road not only came out as a $6.98 list, but the SO prefix always stayed at a higher wholesale cost relative to other prefixes within the list. That is, when this album was released ST, SW, and other Capitol prefixes were $5.98 lists (with different wholesales). Later when they crept up to become $6.98's, the SO titles had their wholesales raised higher than the costs of the others, but remained $6.98's for a while. Then SO prefixes moved to $7.98's before ST, SW. ect. This kind of creeping increase drove us crazy as we used a price averaging system to arrive at prices to sell to retailers.
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  2. stevef

    stevef Senior Member

    Irvine, CA
    In the early 70's I recall most vinyl record albums were between $2.99 to $3.99 (discounted prices), with retail prices being $4.98 to $5.98 list on single discs, a tad more on double-disc albums. But pricing was varied...there were so many more stores that sold albums in those days. Vinyl wasn't just sold in record stores but many department stores and drugstores carried vinyl albums too. I remember stores like JCPenney's, Zody's, White Front, Two Guys, Harris', Sage's, Fedco, etc. all had records. Even some supermarket chains like Stater Bros. had some vinyl in the late 60's/early 70's.

    I would often pick up records cheap at discounted prices from department stores, as well as The Wherehouse, Licorice Pizza, Record Bar, Music Plus, even Wallach's Music City, though at Wallach's their prices tended to be list (I still have some originally bought albums from Wallach's with stickers that have "$5.98" list price on them).

    Lowest price I ever paid on a brand newly released vinyl record was $2.63 for Elton's Tumbleweed Connection, on sale at Two Guys, with most records there selling well under $4. And all singles were 59 cents! This store had a huge selection - I was in heaven!
    At White Front, I recall buying both the Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East (the Pink Capricorn label) and Eat A Peach for $3.44 EACH! And they were both double albums!

    Prices starting going up on albums in the 70's, but I no longer recall exactly what year that was. There were always discounts to be found with so many outlets selling vinyl.
    Sigh... Those were the days! :)
  3. elgreco

    elgreco Groove Meister

    This is what I seem to remember as well. It seems to me that in Holland (and obviously Germany as well) LP's were VERY pricey in the seventies when compared to US prices in those days. Not sure about the start of the decade, but I do remember that circa 1975 LPs were about 18 to 20 Dutch guilders. That's about 8 or 9 euros, which, with today's currency exchange, comes down to about 11 or 12 dollars. And prices went up at the end of the decade, even climbing to 22 to 24 guilders during the early eighties.

    I do remember that you had to pay a LOT of cash for a single vinyl album. There was a reason that I mainly bought 45's until I was fifteen or so.
  4. Nobby

    Nobby Senior Member

    Birmingham, UK
    I remember buying Elton's "Don't Shoot Me..." in 1973 for £1.99 from W.H. Smiths and that was with a 50p discount.

    In 1975, "Captain Fantastic" was priced at £3.25 which was above the regular price for an album then (£2.99).

    Elton apologised for the high price at the Wembley concert on Midsummer's Day that year.

    His apology is on the live bonus disc of "Captain Fantastic (Deluxe Edition)".
  5. LesPaul666

    LesPaul666 Mr Markie - The Rock And Roll Snarkie

    New Jersey
    I remember the doubles of Made In Japan and Goodbye Yellow Brick road being at least 7 or $8.00 at the time of release. The Beatles' red Japan Mono's were (like most other Japanese LP's) 15 bucks in 1982, and MFSL's were anywhere from 18-25 dollars in the late '70's early '80's.
  6. RobertKaneda

    RobertKaneda New Member

    Paris, France
    The original Aron's Records in Los Angeles was across the street from my high school (Fairfax). I remember buying Johnny Winter's live album (Live Johnny Winter And) there for $1.99 (plus tax) shortly after it was released in 1971. I don't know why it was so cheap, but it was, which is why I remember it so distinctly.
  7. alex-57

    alex-57 Forum Resident

    In USSR on"black market" they cost from $15 to ....
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  8. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    When I started buying LPs in earnest around 1976 (age 12), I recall paying around $3.99.

    I recall back in the mid-late '70s stores like Musicland and Sam Goody would occasionally have sales on imported Parlophone Beatles LPs (remember those Jem stickers?) I recall the sale price also being $3.99, down from maybe 5 or 6 bucks.

    It was a very special event to buy a Parlophone. The floppy, laminated cover, the black & silver label with the pound sign logo, and the Hayes Middlesex address seemed so exotic to me.
  9. fabtrick

    fabtrick New Member


    'deed I do!

    But I used to order directly from JEM. I bought a slew of Mott The Hoople imports from them back in 74/75/76. I have no idea what they cost; perhaps someone has an old JEM catalog stashed somewhere....
  10. Olompali

    Olompali Forum Resident

    In 1970, the local five and dime store sold LPs for $3.33..a smooth $3.50 when sales tax was factored.
    I bought Abraxas as well as many dozen others.
  11. Norbert Becker

    Norbert Becker Senior Member

    Philadelphia PA
    Vogel's Music had new releases for $3.37 in the mid 70s. That seemed like a bargain. Plus they were the first store I remeber that had a flea market style general browsing rack for bargains. Alwilk's opened across the street and charged similar prices. These stores were the only reason I would venture into Elizabeth, but how I looked forward to the trip.

    I remember if you tried to return a record at Vogel's you got an entertaining earful about the quality control from one of the Vogel brother owners. Eventually you got a new record, but it made you think twice.
  12. P2CH

    P2CH Well-Known Member

    What was it that made a 45 or Lp considered to be a knock-off? You know the 45's with a little hole punched in the label area or Lp's with corners snipped off the outer sleeve.

    Were they now out of print?
  13. fabtrick

    fabtrick New Member


    Sometimes they were out of print, but most of the time, it was overstock.

    AKA "cut-outs"

    I recall seeing some cut-outs from the 60's where they drilled a hole in the CENTER of the COVER, so it would drill the label - like they did on the 45's.

    Eventually they just drilled the corner - I imagine there was some breakage doing it in the middle of the cover. After that, they just started putting a notch into the cover - in some cases, might they have just been using a saw on an entire CASE of albums, to speed up the process? I've wondered this, because some times the notchs are on varying sides of the cover.

    A lot of "clipped" corners would indicate it may have been used for promotion.

    The shame of it is, the cut-outs, just like promos, gave the artist ZERO income.
  14. joelee

    joelee Senior Member

    The best bargain I remember...
    In 1970, Budget Tapes and Records in Houston had the new Grand Funk Live Album for $2.99.
    This was a double LP gatefold set w/ a poster.
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  15. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    Athens, Tennessee
    1971, typical East TN street price for an LP was $3.57 or $4.57. In Oak Ridge where I grew up, the best prices for LP records was Hyacinth Sound. They sold them for $2.99. Imports there were $3.99. Woolworths then were blowing out older mono LP titles for .99. I bought lots of those then. Most of my neighbors then gave me their old 45 and LP discs when they tired of them.
  16. Id ride my bicycle to Vogels. Im surprised it was never stolen. One trip to Vogels was to get Spocks autograph.
  17. bekayne

    bekayne Senior Member

    I first noticed LP prices around 1974 or 75 when I was eight. $6.49 Canadian at Kelly's Stereo Mart. A dollar more for the Beatles UK imports at The Bay.
  18. Jay F

    Jay F New Member

    Pittsburgh, PA
    I used to ride my bike up to "the highway" (a.k.a. Rt. 22) in N. Plainfield, NJ, to buy records. Also to Brooks Record Shop in Plainfield, and this drugstore in Dunellen, which had a surprisingly good record department, unlike any other drugstore I'd ever been to. I bought most of my Dylan and Beach Boys records there. At that time, mono albums were a little less than $3.00, stereo a little less than $4.00. And Brooks always gave me 10% off.
  19. Wilkie

    Wilkie New Member

    Richmond, VA, USA
    This was almost always the process when the items being marked as overstock or deletions were still in their original sealed cartons. We wholesaled these non-returnables in large quantities, usually buying them directly from the labels. Whether they were drilled, notched, or corner-clipped, the boxes were still sealed and you could clearly see the sawing/drilling was done to the whole box at once. It would be inefficient to do it individually. And notches on varying sides happened because usually LPs were staggered within the cases (especially with gatefolds) to prevent warping.

    Not necessarily. Plenty of promos don't have clipped corners. Plenty of over-presses and deletions do. IOW, you shouldn't assume an item is a promo because the corner is clipped, no more than you should assume a car is fast because it's red...even though some are. All of these markings, plus star-burns, metal rivets, UPC-scratches, ect all mean the item is non-returnable for a variety of reasons. It's not a stock copy.

    Well...that's not always the case. Usually, yes. With new artists, almost always. But established artists could have their contracts worded to give them payments (usually reduced) for sales of over-presses and deletions, provided the usual recoupables had been met. Over-presses and deletions never counted for RIAA certification, and were never counted as sales in the charts, but the payment issue was determined by the artist's contract. Only artists with a lot of leverage could negotiate this type of contract.
  20. Cheepnik

    Cheepnik Overfed long-haired leaping gnome

    At Kmart (my sole source for records in the early '70s), $5.98-list LPs were $4.44, and $6.98-list LPs were $5.67.

    And of course, I can remember that and not remember that I'm supposed to pick up milk on the way home.
  21. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    Nobody ever paid list price back then as there were always sales, usually by record company. Like all of Capital's releases or all of Columbia's releases and usually combined with record companies, at least that was how it was in NYC area.
  22. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    Same here. I don't think I ever paid list price for records, though I sure did see some for sale at odd places.

    I went to the library today to find an ad from the LA Times Calendar section from the early 70's, which I know are full of Warehouse ads where they sold records for $2.44.

    Unfortunately the library's microfilm department was closed for remodelling, but I'll try to find a copy of one. Apparently some here find it hard to belive that new hit records were only $2.44 there.

    I should add that these records were on sale, but these were top selling discs. There were sales like this there just about every week IIRC. I think the normal price there was around $2.89 or thereabouts.
  23. markbrow

    markbrow Forum President

    and some of the stuff in the cutout bin was amazing. That's where I got my Buckingham/Nicks vinyl (played only twice since then) and Guess Who Live at the Paramount (out of print for many years).
  24. Wilkie

    Wilkie New Member

    Richmond, VA, USA
    Yes, these would be their regular prices, with selected new releases even lower. Handleman racked Kmart nationally, but we briefly took over their central Virginia stores in the mid-1970's. It didn't work out, and they went back to Handleman. With this type of distribution, the retailer's base cost is about 15% over wholesale. By contrast a retailer buying from a one-stop pays about 5% over wholesale, and a retailer buying direct from the labels pays no mark-up over wholesale.

    One point that hasn't been covered yet is that back in the days of 100% returns on records, there was a self-correcting minimum price. That is, no one knowingly sold records for less than the wholesale price. Not even stores willing to sell loss-leaders just to get customers in the store. Why? For the same reason Sears will never sell 5 dollar bills for $4.

    When records were 100% returnable, any title in print as long as it was stock (not over-press, promo, record club, or import) was cash money to any business with an account with the labels. So, if you owned a record shop and wanted to sell below wholesale, what would happen?

    Let's make the math simple...say the wholesale is $3, and the usual street price is $4. If you have a big sale and charge $2, I'll come in your store and buy all your stock. Let's say 100 copies. Now you won't have any, and will have lost $100. Plus you have angry customers. I can now sell them for $4. OK, so I only sell a few, no problem. I can send the remaining units back to the labels making $1 profit on each one. And this was done without taking any risks whatsoever. The worst possible situation for me is only making $1 profit each.

    After the labels started limiting returns in 1980, this became a bit more complicated, but by then MAP policies began to appear, and during the 1980's the FTC mostly approved of them.
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  25. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    Sometimes they were just bad records that didn't sell.

    It was quite a strange feeling walking into a drug store and seeing records that I worked on in the cut out bins selling for under $2.00. The first one that comes to mind was 'Live From Mars' a record with the Chambers Brothers from 1975.

    I bet that one sold as few copies there as it did in the record stores. :D

    It was a lousy record for sure, but it was sure a fun party making it. Of course that was part of the problem. In hindsight, it wasn't such a good idea to have a party in the studio. Almost everything recorded live ended up being replaced after the fact.
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