A look at the OPM vinyl market in the Philippines today

Rick Olivares

Posted at Feb 14 2020 07:00 PM

The “Ultraelectromagneticpop” vinyl release saw only 2,500 copies pressed. So there is that desirability for the title. It’s just that the resale price is outrageous. Handout

The recent re-release of the Eraserheads’ “Ultraelectromagneticpop” on vinyl is sold out. No surprise there. Except that it commands a huge price in the resale market.

In two months, we’ve seen it reach almost Juan dela Cruz Band proportions.

What that means in the old Juan dela Cruz Band records sell anywhere from P8,000 to 30,000 per title. At one time on Ebay, all the records were on sale for almost a half million pesos!

It is insane. It sounds too incredible, yet it is true. Now whether anyone bought it is anyone’s guess.

As for “Ultraelectromagneticpop,” what we’ve seen it sell for ranges from P7,000 to 10,000 and now up to a whopping P20,000 (equivalent on Discogs).

There were more than 40,000 copies of that pressed in compact disc and cassette and it is rare that you will see it for sale. The one time I did see it — and it wasn’t in near mint condition — it sold for P13,000.

In fact, I have seen the Eraserheads’ last album, “Carbonstereoxide,” sell for P3,500.

The “Ultraelectromagneticpop” vinyl release saw only 2,500 copies pressed. So there is that desirability for the title. It’s just that the resale price is outrageous.

Since the return to prominence and popularity of vinyl, we have seen Original Pilipino Music releases from the 1960-1980s shoot up in price. Those old records of the Dawn, Apo Hiking Society, Identity Crisis, Gapo Volumes 1 and 2, Anakbayan, Mike Hanopol, Sampaguita, Wally Gonzales, Jose Mari Chan, Gary Valenciano, and others have really gone up in value.

Of those released in the last decade, the “Ang Nawawala” soundtrack (with about 300 pressed) are hard to find and it is rare to see it in the back seller’s market.

If there is any title among those recent re-releases that could possibly — and I must stress possibly — fetch a high price in the future is Slapshock’s “Twelve Point One”. Technically, it isn’t a re-release as there is no compact disc or cassette version of this de facto “greatest hits” release that is a double-side picture disc! It does seem to have sold out as I do not see it anymore.

Other new releases include The Dawn’s “Greatest Hits” but we aren’t really sure if the original analog masters were used or a compact disc as the local record companies have done so.

The re-press versions of Apo Hiking Society or even the Boyfriends’ greatest hits retail for P1,500. Yet, some folks resell them for several hundred pesos or even up to a thousand pesos plus more.

The problem is with the old record bars of yore a thing of the past (save for those in the indie market), most do not know where to buy them and simply look online where these re-presses are sold for a higher price.

When Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” was released during the last Christmas season, resellers automatically added P300 to their price (limited edition or not).

The terms “independent” and “underground” are loosely used, but it seems that the latter relates to punk and metal releases while the former is anything not of the aforementioned genres. But for our purposes, we will simply use the term independent. Or indie, as it sounds way more cool.

There is an average of 10 releases on vinyl every year by indie artists. They come out in an assortment of 7-inch singles or extended plays singles or 12-inch Eps or full length albums. They sell anywhere from P350 (for seven-inchers) to as much as P1,500 for the 12-inch full length. Pricing is definitely key.

Of the indie releases in the last 15 years or so, I’d say for the punk and hardcore community, the releases of Abrasive Relations that will curry a lot of value. Post-rock band Legarda has a split single release with Boston’s “The Saddest Landscape” two years ago. What makes this very hard to find is only 50 copies were pressed.

However, I don’t imagine this will sell huge in the resale market is it is only those in their immediate community who know of the release or will even care to have one.

If you go back to the 1980s, Ocean Zoo’s EP, “Animal Party,” is rather difficult to find and commands a high price when it is on the market. When that came out in 1980, it sold for P5. It didn’t do too well except for those who were into the scene back then. Right now, it is a Holy Grail for local rock music fans.

Supposedly, the Eraserheads’ second album, “Circus,” will also be out on vinyl this year. And we hear that Parokya ni Edgar will also have a record out this year. Whether it is their debut “Khangkhungkherrnitz” that originally came out in 1996 or a greatest hits release remains to be seen. Whether this is a limited edition or not also remains to be seen. And whether this will command a high resale price is anyone’s guess.

I am also told that it isn’t only OPM releases that sell like crazy. Certain records released during the New Wave era also sell for insane prices. Seona Dancing’s release “More to Lose” or those releases by the Care — “Whatever Possessed You” and “Flaming Sword” — are in demand that those with copies of these from countries in North America or Europe have jacked up their prices for the Philippine market (apparently, they aren’t as in demand over there).

During the Record Store Day celebration two years ago, we saw Seona Dancing’s “More to Lose” priced at P14,000! Incredible.

Was it like this when I was buying vinyl in the 1980s? Not really. The only records that I know that were priced steep were the original UK presses of Beatles records.

Personally, I am happy that vinyl is back. On the other hand, the hunt for records I want brings me back to those days. The one exception are these resale prices.