Glam rock certainly rolls on here at The Fault, doesn’t it? Good Mott the Hoople albums are hard to come by – by ‘good’, I mean, of course, “All the Young Dudes” (pictured above), as well as the follow-up album, “Mott”. And…that’s about it. There are a couple good songs on the “Mott” follow up -appropriately titled “The Hoople”, but that’s it. Diminishing returns after, and presumptive failures prior. If you want your money’s worth, pick up Greatest Hits. While not imaginatively named, it does feature most of the great tracks from Dudes, Mott, and Hoople. I’ve seen copies of both Mott and The Hoople at local shops and passed on them, waiting for the crown jewel – that being Young Dudes. I did recently stumble upon the Greatest Hits, and it was a bargain at 5 bucks…although, let’s look at the economics of scale here. Music is time-sensitive, much more so than cost-sensitive. Sure, the first LP ever pressed is going to cost an exorbitant amount of money to acquire, that should be a given. But a CBS Records packaged greatest hits compilation from 1976 (with the majority of the music contained having been released in 1972 and 1973)? And on vinyl – used vinyl at that – shouldn’t be that hard to come by today. And yet, this is the first time I’d seen a copy of Mott’s Greatest Hits on vinyl in years. Mott only set the world on fire briefly, for a scant second – and that on the back of a David Bowie penned song (you know it, it’s “All The Young Dudes” – you did know Bowie wrote that, right?), so maybe it’s wrong of me to think there should be tons of used Mott records floating around. I mean, it’s hard enough to find original Bowie pressings, and they pressed those things in the millions.
It’s really more the economics of time than anything related to price. When you’ve spent as much time shopping for records as I have, you come to realize most pieces of original-pressed wax settle into one of two price points – under 20 dollars, 20-60, and anything over 60. Much like the X.99 price tag, where marketers eventually realized people though, hey bargain, cause it was under XX dollars, 60 bucks seems to be the cutoff point for most ‘harder to find’ vinyl in decent shape. And 60 is still too much. But right now, it’s still partly a sellers market where vinyl is concerned, as any readers (there have to be a few) of this blog will realize from my many, many, probably too many, posts on the subject. So, this is where the economics of time intersect with the economics of price. I’m not young, by anyone’s standards – I’m your average middle aged guy, maybe a bit grumpier than most, certainly more bald than most! So, we have our equation of TIME + PRICE. Anything else? Oh yeah, demand. How many people are looking for Mott the Hoople’s hits on vinyl in the year of our something, 2018? I suppose regardless of the demand, you still have to factor supply into this somewhere. Sure, CBS (or whoever owns the rights to Mott’s catalog today) aren’t rolling copies of their Greatest Hits off the assembly line to the tune of thousands a day. Why would they? How many people are actually looking – or would actually be willing to pick up a copy, if they stumbled upon one? This one might be a little tougher. Sales = (Demand/Supply)*(Time+Price)?
I like data, I love analytics, but I’ve never been the guy who can figure out an equation like this off the top of my head. These variables are very much of the ‘sliding scale’ variety – in terms of supply (how many copies were pressed, how many still exist, and how many are within a few miles of me – namely, in one of my local record shops), in terms of demand (Led Zeppelin pressings? Demand. Mott the Hoople pressings? Demand, but of a lesser scale). Time (how long since the record came out? was it genre specific? how many people still give enough of a crap to shell out money for it today? who is it appealing to – middle aged guys, younger people, some odd intersection, or nobody?) Intersecting with Time is Demand – for the further away from a production point you get, the harder the product is to acquire. So, if the demand remains high (like with Zeppelin pressings), the time away from pressing (40+ years and counting for some Zeppelin releases) makes acquiring a copy harder, despite the high pressing count. Add into this the fact that more people ‘want’ Zeppelin than ‘want’ Mott, and that has to, in some exponential way, factor into the equation. Finally, but not really finally, we have price. Price is dictated by supply, demand, and also, at least for something like records, time. Again, Zeppelin is going to cost more than Mott. But by how much and for how long? So, I said price was the final element, but not really, because…cultural cache. Who’s cool? Is Zeppelin cool? Still seem to be. Is Mott cool? Maybe to a few.
This really could make someone’s head hurt. It makes mine hurt. I’m going to figure out a way to put all of this into Tableau Software, if I can ever make sense of the equation. I might be able to get ahold of initial sales figures (minus returns, so again, not a full picture). Look, here’s the deal…if you want some glam that isn’t Bowie, Eno, Roxy Music, Lou Reed…find some Mott the Hoople, or at least the two albums I mentioned (or their Greatest Hits). If you want to expand your glam library, you won’t be disappoint. However, can someone tell me what a Hoople is?