I often see posts on Facebook complaining/warning people to be careful when buying records from TradeMe auctions. The warning/complaint usually suggests that – essentially – things aren’t always what they seem. This is part of buying goods when you can’t see/test them first. You can view pictures, sure, but with something as tactile as vinyl (and I guess CDs) you don’t get the full story until it arrives in your letterbox or at your doorstep.
Fair point – if (seemingly) obvious but I’ll sympathise with the person purchasing some vinyl and finding it with unplayable sections (or altogether unlistenable – due to sound quality not the particular music) as well as tatty covers. Unless of course the auction announced that what was up for grabs was a bunch of vinyl “with unplayable sections and tatty covers” – and/or the winner of the auction got it for a song (presumably just the one). I bought a Kinks LP – on a fit of nostalgia, it was a compilation that (on tape) was my introduction to the band. It was unplayable. But it was $5. I should have been smarter, asked at least a question or two. But it was my first time out on TradeMe.
I also purchased an LP from TradeMe where I picked it up. Touchdown by Bob James from 1978. It’s no longer in print – I’m sure many will jump at the chance to suggest there’s good reason for that. I got it for a reasonable price, I’m happy, the TradeMe seller was happy. The various music stores that no longer have to field my queries as to whether they can order this or keep an eye out for a second-hand copy are no doubt happy. Win/win/win. But was my stereo happy?
When I picked up the record I was told that it should be in mint condition – the guy said he was something of a collector (and indeed there were other records he was readying to sell/has online that are of interest to me).
I have my reasons for wanting Touchdown on vinyl – five in fact. Chiefly this. But also this, this, this and this. (Yep, that’s the entire track-listing, in order: “Angela”, “Touchdown”, “I Want To Thank You Very Much”, “Sun Runner” and “Caribbean Nights”; my five reasons). These songs might seem pretty naff to you – I don’t mind. I like them. I like, in part, how naff some of them sound. I like the playing – and the players – involved. And, as I said, chiefly, I’m in love with the song “Angela” – the theme from Taxi. But then, you knew that. (You probably knew that I’m obsessed with that song and with Bob James too actually…)
So I sat down to take in the first-listen of the vinyl LP version of Touchdown by Bob James and it sounded….fantastic! (Again, you might argue, but here I’m talking quality). Just that thin crackle to let you know you’re listening to a record – nothing else. But no pops, no hiss, no jumps, no scratches. The cover is in close-enough-to-perfect condition too.
A win for me.
It was worth it just to find out – finally – that it’s Idris Muhammad (one of my favourite drummers) playing Angela’s subtle groove. Not Steve Gadd. (Gadd is also one of my favourite drummers – and plays on the rest of the album’s tracks). It was worth it to me to simply because I’ve always wanted the Taxi theme on vinyl.
But it got me wondering as to whether of you have TradeMe horror stories relating to buying or selling music. Or from trading in general – second-hand stores perhaps, trading with friends – or what used to be friends. Sometimes you feel ripped off – because even $5-$10 is still $5-$10 and if the item you purchased is essentially worthless then you were ripped off; you’ve effectively ripped yourself off by taking the punt, by having that gamble. But there is goodwill involved here too – particularly with something like TradeMe; with people listing items in a playable/decent condition.
I know of a story where a perfectly acceptable copy of Radiohead’s Ok Computer was swapped for an apparently perfectly acceptable KFC quarter-pack. But that’s not my story…as far as I know both people involved in that trade were happy. Win/win.
I haven’t sold any records or CDs via TradeMe – I tend to use the second-hand stores (for lots of reasons, mostly because I enjoy being able to shop and try before I buy; because I like to support the local business too – again there’s a goodwill of sorts). But I have had happy TradeMe experiences so far – I’ve gotten some bargains (Talking Heads’ Remain In Light was nearly a steal), the sound has been great and I’ve been able to sell a few things (some books, DVDs) that, presumably, others have enjoyed.
So what’s your experience like with trading? Do you buy music from TradeMe and eBay and the like? Or does all music you buy have to be new? Have you found the old gems you’re looking for? Have you ever felt let down due to the quality of the goods when they arrive? What’s your