A Guide to Selling Music Audio Cassettes on Ebay

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Hello and welcome to my first of hopefully many guides on Ebay!
Firstly, I want to make the point that I  am by no means an expert on the above subject. The main exercise here is to share with you my experiences which, put together, should be useful to anyone looking into the world of cassettes.......and what you really want to know is Can You Make Money?? Please read on...........

Is There Money To be Made?
The simple answer is yes but like everything, you need to know where to look.
It can happen almost accidentally too , although you had to have seized the opportunity first before you make the discovery. 
I recently purchased a job lot of tapes from someone via a well known classified ads site. On contacting the seller, it turned out he was a HGV driver and he was passing through that very night. He was selling around 300 tapes and wanted £50 for the lot.
This would have been the most I 'd paid out on tapes and being slightly cautious I did wonder if I was going to end up with a load of rubbish. The ad did however mention some keywords, such as Marc Bolan , David Bowie (more of those later).
Cut a long story, I purchased the tapes. Some well known items in there along with some not so well known. In there were a few John Lennon tapes which I'd seen go for upto 10 pound or so. However there was  a live double tape in a cardboard "newspaper" effect outer sleeve. So there I was, straight into my "completed" searches with my list of tapes......and sure enough this item had sold for around £50. Anyway , yes I eventually listed the item and got around £50.  Take a look at the listing below....


What Sells?

The million dollar question!
You only have to look in the completed section to see that there are some demo tapes  for example that are selling in the hundreds or thousands. This guide will not cover those (or at least until I discover any!)
By trial and error I have found out certain niches and music areas that sell in cassette form on Ebay. One thing to bear in mind, this is evolving and what is in one day is out the next. However, like most category items there are always the bread and butter items that will sell. Also this is by no means an exhaustive guide and there are  probably things I am unaware of or have missed out. So your contributions to this guide are welcome!

Ok straight to a few items to look for.......I'll expand on some of these later.
  • Now That's What I Call Music - various numbers in the series
  • John Lennon/Yoko Ono - Somewhere In New York City
  • T Rex / Marc Bolan - Early releases/US versions
  • David Bowie - 70's releases
  • The Beatles  - Any album with it's original paper labels
  • The Smiths - Various albums and cassette singles
  • Kraftwerk - As above, special release singles
  • Kim Wilde - Greatest Hits (certain versions)
  • Iron Maiden - Various
  • Progressive Rock groups such as Hawkwind , Camel
  • Heavy Metal various including Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin...
  • Certain soundtracks such as Back To The Future

So that gives you an idea of what will sell.
In my experience, a lot of the items I was about to list had no track record on Ebay and other websites were not that helpful in giving a price. So I repeat - this can be hit or miss, but then that's half the fun!

I will expand on the above shortly but firstly a quick overview , if not stating the obvious, about the items in general.

Getting The Best Price

This may be obvious to most but the points below will together give you the best chance of making a sale.

  • Are the case,insert and tape itself in good condition?
  • Are the labels still intact on the cassette body?
  • Is the print still intact on the cassette body
  • Will the tape play correctly, no "watery" sound , slip or "movement" of the sound?
  • Will the tape  wind forwards and backwards with little resistance?
We're all experienced enough to know that the more you can give in the description the better. If there are any imperfections, let people know and point them out with an additional picture (With 12 pictures available there is plenty of room to show off your item)

Overseas Shipping
Probably 70% of my tape sales have gone overseas.
So don't cut-off a massive potential market for your items by thinking posting overseas is just too much hassle. In the States I believe their appetite for tapes is growing again.
Obscure rock groups, particularly Prog do really well. A lot of my T Rex sales were also overseas , Japan in particular.

Be generous with offering multiple postage discounts.
With tapes being very conveniently sized there is still room to make good money.
One buyer in Russia bought ten items from me - I was able to offer a good discount, still making good money on the tapes.

Auction or Buy It Now?
All my history of selling tapes has been through Auctions , obviously giving yourself the optimum chance for sale by looking at end-times etc
Although I do have a few in my shop on buy-it-now,  (please click here   http://stores.ebay.co.uk/bluescoobyblue ) I would still say Auction is the best way forward, particularly with a more obscure item.  Do your research is an obvious point to make but here it is really important. Unless of course you are certain of the value in the marketplace.
Of course there is the chance that you may lose out occasionnally by using Auctions but seeing people fight it out near completion is always a good feeling!

Where To Find Cassettes

After you have stumbled across your first haul of tapes perhaps at a car boot sale, finding another batch can prove difficult. There is no doubt you have to be persistent - but if you have read this far then that should be no problem!

So, the list is thus.....
  • Car Boot Sales - always check under the tables!
  • Well known advertised classified ads sites
  • Google searches, which trawl through all online classified ads. Use Google search tools to look for items posted that week for example
  • Facebook pages
  • Friends, colleagues
  • Local Freecycle sites
When you put your mind to it, there are quite a few places to seek out tapes.
Of course, Quality Control is paramount and you will need a system to handle the many that will fall by the wayside.  Which leads me on to the next section.........

Can't Sell Won't Sell

After doing this for a while you will quickly find that you will have a surplus of perfectly good tapes that you think you will be lumbered with. Don't discount these - you will be surprised at how easy you can get rid. Of course you might just be getting your money back here , don't be looking for huge profits on these.

Many of the mainstream 80's tapes just aren't worth selling as they sold in such massive quantities. As you are going along, put these to one side in a box and when you have say 100 of a decent quality, list them as a job lot. You can either set the auction to a £10 start for example or start low at 99p and see where it ends. I often sell these , but make sure you put in a selection of supposedly higher , more sought after artists and make these prominent in your photos too.

After a while I noticed that the same guy was buying batches of tapes from me, he even stated that he only wanted the tapes themselves without cases. It turned out he was a restaurant owner and he was decorating his walls in a retro style with cassettes!  I looked at his Facebook page and these looked so cool! As I said, don't discount any of these, even if the tapes have chewed up or all the print is missing.

Niche areas

So a bit more on the list of items to look for............

Now That's What I Call Music
The world famous series of compilation releases started off just on Vinyl and Cassette in 1983. These sold in such massive quantities that the early versions are not as valuable as you might think. Now 1 to 5 for example can be seen for upto £10 individually - the bundles of these seem to go well for anything up to £20. 
The rest of the series up to late 50's don't really attract that much attention except perhaps in bundles again.
However, where cassettes are concerned, by 2003 the format was dying out and in 2005 the very last NOW cassette version, NOW 63 was released. So if you looking on Ebay or Amazon you will see an increase in value from say NOW 57 up to NOW 63.
We're looking at anything from £50 upwards for these later issues. I have to say I have never found any of these so they must be particularly rare.

The Beatles
From what I can see, any release of the classic Beatles releases with an original yellow paper will fetch the best price. There are later issues of these in a standard perspex body which won't really fetch more than £10.
Solo beatles work also sells well.

Special  Releases / Singles
Some artists tried to be more innovative with their marketing and released their titles in sought after limited editions. Take Kraftwerk for example who released their Pocket Calculator single in a "flip-top" yellow calculator design cardboard box. This has been sold for £15-£20.
Also be prepared for some titles to take you by surprise in their value. There are Iron Maiden titles, in standard cassette single format that have sold for £50-£100.  Britney Spears is another artist whose singles sell really well.

A Final Word.......

Thanks for reading my first guide and I hope it's given some people a few hints and tips.
It's only my experiences gained so far so I'd really welcome some additional comments . Hopefully I will have worked out how to add pictures and maybe make the next read a bit more interesting!!

Please take a look at my listings and subscribe!

Thanks for reading :-)

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