News reaches Every Record Tells A Story today that Stax University is to offer a three year degree course in Record Collecting. According to their website, the degree will examine pupils understanding of grading the condition of records, why some records are more valuable than others, matrix numbers, stampings, the manufacturing process, mastering of vinyl and the weight bearing ratios of the IKEA Kallax range of shelving.
However, they won’t just take anyone.
Keen to educate the public, yet also keen to exclude novices who might commit cardinal errors (trying to play a CD, banging on about the “warm sound”) Stax University has produced an entry paper, which ERTAS is proud to exclusively reprint below.
Could you pass the entry test for the Record Collectors Degree Qualification? Find out below….
Stax University Degree in Record Collecting, Entrance Exam.
Time allotted 30 mins.
1. If, in November, Adam has told his wife he paid “about a fiver” for the copy of a near mint pressing of Led Zeppelin’s first album with turquoise lettering on the cover that he has just brought home, please state a) how much he really paid and b) how long the marriage will last if Adam has to pay for the family holiday in July.
2. Tony has just bought an original copy of Otis Redding’s “You Left The Water Running” which was limited to just 500 copies, found in a charity shop for just £1. Express as a percentage how much of a damn Tony’s girlfriend gives about that when they are a) late for dinner and b) at all.
3. Keith has spent the last forty years collating his record collection. It consists of mainly first pressings and has a full run of Stiff Records singles and over fifty Vertigo albums. It is valued at £70,000 on Discogs. Express in pounds how much Keith’s widow will sell it for if she chooses any of the following methods of disposal.
- a) Keith’s best mate, who has a shady past, secretly fancies Keith’s widow and has been envious of the collection for many years.
- b) the local record dealer
- c) the skip
4. Harry finds a vg copy of Pink Floyd’s Meddle (1U matrix) and a nm copy of More (left facing). If vg is worth 1/2 a mint copy, which is more valuable? (10 marks. Show your workings, including the correct use of Pythagoras’s theory of relative value).
Follow up question: if the amount of brain power used to calculate this question was instead channelled towards solving the world’s problems, how soon would world peace be achieved?
5. Alan has just sold his record collection as he thinks prices for vinyl are peaking. He paid £3,000 for his collection over twelve years and sells it for £10,000. If Alan spent six hours a week in record shops and boot sales instead of working, and is self employed, earning £15 an hour on average, how much money has Alan really lost on his collection if you take into account the amount he could have earned working instead of hanging around wasting time in record shops?
6. Sarah likes to visit car boot sales on Sunday mornings to look for rare records and has been regularly visiting such sales every week for the last nine years, but only when it isn’t raining. If it rains on average through the year one week in three, how many different copies of Paul Young’s No Parlez would Sarah have ignored whilst trying to find something good?
Bonus point: is the answer different for the following albums: a) The Sound of Bread b) Soundtrack to Grease c) Soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever?
7. Sophie has a mint condition first pressing of Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart. It has never been played since she bought it in the early seventies. Explain how depreciation works by calculating how much the value of the album falls each time it is played on the following record players:
- a) a Rega 9 with top of the range cartridge
- b) a battered old Dansette player found in the loft.
- c) a fisher price child’s record player.
Bonus: Explain why answers b) and c) are the same.
Note: use your answer to calculate whether Sophie hasn’t played the album because of the potential investment value, or because it is just a really difficult record to listen to.
8. Martin’s teenage son has rifled through Martin’s record collection and played his dad’s near mint condition copy of “Please Please Me” by the Beatles with a “Dick James” credit on the label on a Crosley Portable Turntable with a badly adjusted ceramic cartridge. If Martin is of average health, how far above safe levels will his blood pressure be after he finds out?
9. John lives in a three bedroom semi-detached house and has two children. If he has a mid life crisis and wants to start record collecting from scratch, how long will it take, on average, before John’s collection is so large that he starts to talk about a “lack of space” or “moving somewhere bigger”?
- a) ten years
- b) two years
- c) ten months
10. You see a new 180g remastered copy of Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen for £25 at the record shop. How many used copies of the album could you find in equally good condition for the same amount of money at your local record fair if you spent twenty minutes looking around?
- a) five
- b) six
- c) eight, with a pound to spare.
Geoff believes that vinyl has a superior sound whereas Andrea believes that digital music from CDs sound best.
If they raise the subject at a party, how long will it take before the last guest dies of boredom?