Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Identification and Pricing of Rare Records: Promotional Records

How do you know if you have a promotional record? What's a test pressing? Is a white label an official pressing made by the record label, or is it an unofficial bootleg pressing? Is a promo worth more than a regular copy? These questions often arise from the record collectors and crate diggers, and they come up often here at Metrowax as well.

Shakira - Hips Don't Lie Wyclef Mix (Promo) - 2006 Epic

Let's talk a little bit about promotional records. Promotional records are issued by record labels to promote an upcoming release. Promos are normally sent only to full-time DJ's, radio stations, music journalists, and producers, in search of airplay, hype, and positive reviews. A promo may be marked "not for sale", but it is not illegal to sell promos. A promo record is the property of the record label and subject to recall, but this rarely happens. Promos usually come out slightly earlier than the regular release, but sometimes a remixed version will be released as a promo after the initial release.

Promo records can also be "promo only", which means that the track was ONLY released as a promo, thus the media was unavailable to the public in any format. If you happen to get a sought after mix on a promo only item, you have the makings of an expensive record. One such item is the Devil's Son promo 12" by Big L. This has been repressed (another topic for another time), but prior to the repress, the only was you could get this track was to obtain this promo single.


Big L - Devil's Son (Promo) - 1993 Columbia


There are many ways in which a promotional record can be identified. Promos can be compared to the regular release to get an idea of the demand for the record and the value:

  • The promo has a different catalog number and printing on the label.
  • The label and/or cover states DJ ONLY, DEMONSTRATION, NOT FOR SALE, PROMOTIONAL, etc..
  • The record label is stamped in ink as a promo by the manufacturer.
  • The cover has a notch cutout or a corner cut off, to discourage retail sale. Most often the vinyl for these type of promos is identical to the retail copy.
  • The cover is stamped as a promo, usually on the back cover and often in gold ink. (We describe this as GOLD PS, for 'gold promo stamp').
  • The record label is identical to the regular release, but it is a different color. Usually, the promo label will be black ink on a white label. The regular release may have more color.
  • The promo may have contact information on it such as a phone number or e-mail address. This type of information is not on the regular release.

A white label or test pressing can also be known as a promo, but these copies are not officially distributed as promotional items (to promote the track). Sometimes they can't even be identified, so it wouldn't make a lot of sense to promote the music this way! If they were good sounding copies, they were not destroyed, rather they found their way into a collection somewhere.

Sprung Monkey - Get 'Em Outta Here (Promo) - 1998 Surfdog

Is a promo worth more than a retail release? It's a valid question, and promos can be difficult to value. Here are some points that we consider when pricing our promotional records:
  • If the music isn't any good, promos aren't worth jack. This holds true for all releases.
  • For any tracks that made it big, the promo is worth more, just due to the fact that it's far more rare than the retail release. The promo might be 2x to 4x the price of the normal copy, sometimes much more.
  • For tracks that are easy to obtain as a promo or retail version and have low demand, the price is the same for both versions. And it's not much money at all, maybe $1 to $3.
  • If the item is promo only, it's worth more money. If a certain track or remix is 'promo only', or ONLY available as promotional record, that promo is going to be worth a lot more than the normal release, since collectors will pine for it. It may fetch $100 or more depending on the quality of the track and how rare it is.
  • If a particular track is stated as 'unavailable on LP', meaning it's not part of the full album released publicly, it could be worth a good chunk of change. Especially if the track is good.
  • If the promo has sheets of information, like track reaction sheets and DJ feedback forms, color postcards, stickers, autographed pictures, or anything else of interest that's not available in the normal release, the price goes up. It goes much higher if the artist is talented and/or well known.
Promotional records can be a lot of fun, and since most major record labels ceased production of promos in 2008, they should rise in value over time (for in-demand items). When you get a promo that's special to you, you can cherish it knowing there are far less of them produced, which makes them highly collectible! Have fun collecting your promos!


The White Legend - Let The Music Play Remix (Promo) - 2000 Universal Canada

At Metrowax we have finally starting listing hordes of thousands of promos, white labels, test pressings, and other items that are not easily found for sale. We've been hording these for years and they represent every collection we have ever purchased. Now we are listing them on our website with full descriptions and pictures! I even found some Canadian promos recently, they are tough to find for sure, as are many of these rare records we are listing lately. Check out our new listings - you may find something you've been looking for for years! It happens quite often and we always appreciate hearing that WE had the record searched for so long.

Look for another installment down the road in regards to test pressings, white labels, and unofficial pressings. Until then, happy digging!



87 comments:

  1. It also depends on how different the Promo version is than the official release. As one such case,may I point you to The Beatles' "Penny Lane". The Promotional 45 has an extra horn riff right at the very end of the song,which is not on any of the non-promo 45's [although,since 1980,the promo version has popped up several places,such as "The Beatles Rarities" album on Capitol].

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  2. Thanks for the information, and I agree that sometimes the promo has a different version. A friend of mine has a promotional 45 of Jimmy Castor - It's Just Begun. The version on this 45 has extra percussion and seems to have better sound quality than any other version I have heard. Promos are certainly interesting collectibles!

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  3. Yes...thanks for the info. I have a autographed "promo" (stamped in gold on back cover) Thriller album. Mike Frost (PAAS) has authenticated the signature. Would this be worth more than a standard album. Signature dates back to the time when the album was first released

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    1. That's a pretty special piece. Thriller was the first album I ever got. Since then, I have seen it hundreds of times, but I have only seen the gold stamped promo a handful of times. The album itself is probably worth 2 or 3 times the value of a standard copy, and with an authenticated autograph, this would make it more valuable yet. $1000-2000?

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  4. Is there, or at least was there, a particular guideline for when to start sending promos to radio stations in advance of an album? For example, were promos mailed-out a month in advance of the album release date? One of the things that annoys me most about promos is you can never find a release date for them, and I've yet to know of any guidelines regarding their release that would make that process any easier.

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    1. I am unaware of any particular rule of thumb here, but I know that the promos were sent to radio stations and DJs before the release date. Based on what I have seen, it is probably about 1-2 months ahead of the release dates but this likely varies.

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  5. i have a Bob Marley & the Wailers Survival LP promo only was wanting to know what something like that would be worth if anyone knew?

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    1. I would need a few more details. I cannot find a US release of this record, but I did find releases from Germany, Canada, Jamaica and other countries. Which country is your release from?

      Generally, promo records are worth anywhere from 100 to 200% of the normal release. Some are significantly more and this depends on rarity and demand. The value goes way up if the promo record has tracks that the regular release does not.

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  6. Hi, I have what appears to be a promo of the Boston/Boston album with plain white label and cover. It just has a handwritten "81611 Boston" on the cover. Any idea what it is? Thanks

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    1. You likely have a rare one there.. 81611 is part of the regular catalog number for the Boston record. I would guess it is an early white label pressing of the regular LP. Essentially, I think of it like this. In terms of the pressing schedule and process, first comes the acetate or master copy, then probably a white label (spin one off before the label is done to see what the sound is like), then a test pressing (usually marked by the manufacturer as such but without any artist or track information printed), then a promo (early pressings sent to radio stations and DJs), then the regular release (common). The earlier the pressing, the more value it would have. As long as your white label has the proper runout grooves it would be quite valuable to the Boston nut out there somewhere. I would guess only a handful were ever pressed as such.

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    2. Thanks very much for your reply. The run out grooves are marked EPC S 81611 A1 and B1 and opposite these on each side are three imprinted dots in the runout grooves. I am confident of the provenance of the album as it came from someone in the record industry originally. Now it needs a new home with a Boston fan who will appreciate it properly! Thanks again.

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    3. You are welcome and I do hope it finds a good home. Good luck!

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  7. does a promo have speical markings on the dead wax?

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    1. Thanks for asking. Sometimes promo issues will have different runout groove inscriptions than the regular release. Not always though - it varies depending on the record label. The label sticker is almost always different on a promo, so usually this is enough to tell the difference. But some records do have subtle differences in the runouts for promotional copies. To know for sure on any particular release, you'd have to compare each version very carefully and notice any differences in the runout grooves.

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  8. my fiancee died and he collected vinyl. one being, "Hot Rocks" double album 1964-1971. Rolling Stones. Inscribed on both albums, "unauthorized public performance"
    would you know anything about this???

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    1. Thanks for asking Tara. Hot Rocks is a pretty common title, with copies usually found under $10. But I searched for this pressing and could not find much information on it. I found one auction where it was listed with a group of other rock records and the group sold for $33, but that doesn't tell us too much. If I had to make an educated guess, in nice condition, I would price this at $15-$20.

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  9. What about a promo Ramones, Sire 1976 SASD 7520 1st pressing, with the corner cut out? It's exactly the same as the retail copy, but is it worth more, or less, or no difference, depending on condition? Also, what about a notch cut out of the top right corner, but the cornet itself is not cut off, is this also a promo, or something else?

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    1. This Ramones LP has a LOT of versions. You can see them here:

      http://www.discogs.com/Ramones-Ramones/master/39341

      But the promo is not listed for whatever reason. Typically a promo like this might fetch anywhere from 100-200% of the regular LP's value. The album you have is worth around $50-$60 in VG+ or better condition, so you have a nice record there! The promo is more rare, but the value of it depends on the buyer and the demand for that particular item.

      The corner cut is typically done to some older promo copies by the record labels before distribution. The record inside can be a promo label (Black and white usually and says promotional or demo on it) or the standard color label. I only call it a promo if the label is different, meaning the actualy vinyl varies from the standard issue. If not a promo label, it's essentially a regular copy with the corner cut off (and intended to be given away and used, not sold).

      So is your copy the standard label or the promo label? It would help to know this since it would obviously be more rare if the label was a promo label.

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    2. I have beatles white album not for sale with 68 poster and photos is it radio station record

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  10. Hey!

    I just read the article

    I have a copy of

    THE ESSENTIAL JIMI HENDRIX

    It appears to be a promo copy, the sticker on front says

    PROMO COPY-NOT FOR RESALE
    WARNER BROS RECORDS AND TAPES
    PROVIDED WITH HOPE
    THAT YOU WILL USE THIS
    FOR IN-STORE PLAY

    Would it be worth more than a regular copy?

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  11. Thanks for the question. I cannot find this listing on Discogs, but did find a few copies online for sale in the $25 to $50 range. A regular copy is about $15 for this release, so it is definitely worth more! A lot more rare as well.

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  12. Hi!

    Few days ago I bought a vinyl album of Diana Ross from 1980. It's called "Diana".
    Interesting thing is the label on the front saying "FOR PROMOTION ONLY..." etc.

    Album is not in the best condition. Package has few scratches and it's teared on the side.
    The disc itself is ok. Apart from few small scratches it plays really well.
    You can't hear any distortions of sound.
    Few pics below.
    http://s1328.photobucket.com/user/mirekgrempla/library/

    I've read this article and I'd like to ask, how much it would be worth if I would like to sell?

    I will be grateful for any help.
    Best regards
    Mirek



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    1. Hello Mirek,

      I was able to find this on Discogs:

      http://www.discogs.com/Diana-Ross-Diana/release/3743094

      It's always a good start to try valuing a record. I have had this one a couple times, around the $8-$12 range if I remember correctly. There's a guy selling it for $25.00 right now, but I think he's high. Being that the condition of the cover is not great, I would value this one at maybe $7 or $8 USD.

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  13. I have a 1968 copy of the Beatles yellow submarine from the Scranton factory sw 153 with the apple lable that is a promo with the word "free" spelled out in tiny holes in the upset right corner. Would this hold any value? Thanks

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    1. I can't find any "official" promo release for this item, is the label any different than a normal release? If not, you just have a cut corner promo that's the same as the original, which doesn't hold any extra value. But that's a decent record to have anyways!

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  14. i have 380 promos all the way back to elvis selling on cragslist for 150.00 cash

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  15. Interesting topic and having just bought some 500 45 rpm sleeve I found your blog. I have listed a bunch of them on ebay and got an ebay email telling me a listing was removed because of privacy violation. The sleeves in question were four shakin stevens sleeves... I was told to contact (email for shakin steven)if more info was required.. I think one may have been a demo (jungle Rock, Italy) . The other three were/are on ebay (italy not)... any comments?

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    1. I am surprised they removed them, but certain artists police their items more closely than others. Warren Zevon and Prince are two artists that widely discourage any unofficial or bootleg releases being sold. But I have sold Prince promo records many times and as of yet, no listings have ever been cancelled.

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  16. I was in the radio industry for years. To answer your question on when they were sent/received...the first batch, sometimes 10-15, were sent out probably a month in advance. If it was a cornerstone artist, they would send more because the RC would know you would be giving away more. Then, depending on how well the single did, they would then send out more on your request. We always just grabbed one of whatever came in out of the prize closet. I never played mine, just put them away. Recently while moving I discovered all of these promo albums that have never been played. Never even taken out of their covers...Fleetwood Mac, Billy Idol, U2, REO, George Michael, etc...all of them in pristine new condition. The jackets were in good shape with a little wear on the spines. I guess that was front the constant moving.

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    1. Thanks for your input, it is much appreciated! I see some of the records we get have feedback forms in the sleeve, which I assume were supposed to be sent back to the label to gauge the popularity of the single.

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  17. My father recently passed away and I have been tasked with going through his massive collection (at least 500). While going through them, I have found some promotional records. One in particular I found interesting. While most promo albums are of one artist, the one in question is actually a mix of artists. It literally says excerpts from great new releases from the sound capitol of the world, July 1962. It is a Capitol Record but there is no cover. Any ideas on this?

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    1. I found this one out on Discogs. The Discogs release number is 2161088 in case you want to look at it. Perhaps this matches yours?

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  18. I've been looking through my records today and have come across a few 12" promo's, one in particular is a Michael Jackson promotion only catalogue no. XPR 3020, They Don't Care About Us (The Love To Infinity Mixes) 1. Classic Paradise Mix7:55 2. Anthem Of Love Mix 7:46 with (among other details) Original Sound Recording by MJJ Music. Both record and cover are in near mint condition. Can you give me any idea of its worth?

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    1. Not a lot there.. I am going to say $7.. this one is all over the net.

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  19. Have a John Lee Hooker Galaxy 45 # 716 on green wax released in 1963, "I Lost My Job" & "Shake It Up And Go"it's a promotional copy labeled Not For Sale. Can't find much information about it, but I've seen some other copies sell in much worse condition for as much as $90.00 US.

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    1. I'm in the same boat with the same record. The $90.00 copy is probably the same one I saw with the white paper label colored red, what a shame. But this must be really desirable if someone is willing to pay that price in such condition. I've learned that this was the only 45 he released on Galaxy, so that must factor in.

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  20. What about a Mozart promo album? It says Ensemble Wien-Berlin and has a seal in the upper right corner for CBS Records Masterworks. Copyright 1984. I also have a Dvorak album I can't seem to find. Quintet in A major opus 81, copyright 1970, MMO44 (Music Minus One Piano). It's bright green and comes with a big book of piano music inside. Any idea? Thank you.

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    1. Classical is tough.. I try to stay away, mainly because they are too hard to ID and sell.. good luck with them!

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  21. I just came across an old Night Ranger Album stamped for promotion only - how can I find out the value?

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    1. Are there any Night Ranger fans left?

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  22. Would Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 albums be worth more if they have deletion notches cut in the sleeve?

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    1. No.. the notch does not add value, it takes it away.

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  23. Hi I recently was going through an old collection I purchased and found a michael jackson's bad gold stamped promo lp, canadian pressing, as well as a record which is labeled motown superstar interviews and is marked "for radio only not for sale" and side one is a vanity interview, and side 2 is a smoky robinson interview. I was wondering if you may be able to tell me if these are worth anything. Thanks!

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    1. The Canadian promo pressing is pretty cool. But the interview records aren't worth too much. They may be rare, but there's little demand for spoken word albums. I've sold these interviews in the past for $3-$6.

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  24. Hi, I wonder if anyone can help me I have a selection of about 500 various promos and media vinyls that came from a music magazine editors house after he passed away. Many of the vinyls are plain white labels with no indication of what is on them other then serial codes. Is there a way of searching whats on these before I move them on to a seller and get stitched up for my ignorance. Any help would be great. eveharbour@hotmail.com

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    1. You could try putting the runout groove numbers into Discogs to see if it would bring up a match. When they are white labels, you are left with only the runout numbers or they can be identified by listening if you know the music.

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  25. Hi, recently at an estate sale I purchased some classic rock albums that are all stamped in gold with promotional stamp and about a 5 digit number. Albums include Sgt Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, a couple from Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones Some Girls with both a gold promo stamp and a black and white promo label and a Frank Zappa Sheik Yerbouti black and white cover that says promo not for sale. Do these all have value?

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    1. They all have value. Given the popularity of these artists, pricing data should not be hard to find. Look at eBay, Popsike, and Discogs. If all else is equal, the gold promo stamp doesn't really add a ton of value, but maybe some, depending on how rare and desirable the record is.

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  26. I just acquired a gold-stamped promo version of The Little River Band's Greatest Hits album on vinyl from the radio station I work at. Would this have any value?

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    1. Minimal. Little River Band records are only like $2-$4 each.

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  27. I recently came across a couple thousand 45s from the 60s and 70s while cleaning out my grandmothers attic. They were given to her by my father who was a DJ back then so they are all promotional copies, radio station copies or say demo not for sale on them.. I have no idea how to go about finding out how much they are worth since there are so many... Any ideas?

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    1. Try running them through Discogs and see what you have there. It's very time consuming! Good luck!

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  28. Hi, I have an Air Supply Holiday Special 2 LP set marked Arista Not for Sale Promotion Copy Only 1981. Can you please give me an idea of the value of these 2 records. They are in good condition and in a plane white cover, white label and black writing. Thankyou.

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    1. I doubt it's worth much. It's Air Supply. Not too much demand there. If you found out the value of the regular release, I would say 1.5x more than that (about $3 probably).

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  29. Hi, I have a collection of about 500 promotional albums from the 1980's, is there a site, app, or book that I can get to help me determine the value of these?

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    Replies
    1. eBay, Popsike, and Discogs. If that fails, try google (seriously!).

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  30. I have an lp with a sticker on a white label with the following info. On the label at the top in capitals ,
    UNGEPRUFTES MUSTER at the bottom of the label UNVERKAUFLICH. there is a sticker just above the last word it says Beatles / Revolver and the following numbers / letters CR-G 105-TA-01-C/01. the LP is unmarked and is blank on the reverse. there is something stamped into the run off area but I cannot make it out , can you tell me what this copy is. I played the first track and it is Taxman. There is seven tracks.

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  31. "Not for Sale" promo from AIWA electronic company Japan(stating co address in Tokyo, Japan). Label under ':AIWA TEST RECORD', red transparent lp 33 1/3 rpm. 4 soundtrack 1. DEEP RIVER (Negro Spiritual) Instrumental 2. WATER BOY (Negro Spiritual) Vocal 3. OVERTURE, MARRIAGE OF FIGARO - W A Mozarrt 4. ON A WINGS OF SONGS - F Mendel Ssohn. Any idea what is the value?

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  32. Recently got a promo 45 vinyl record from 1963 - "Pintor"/"The Rhythm Surfer" by the Pharos band - the price went up to 268 UDS! I wonder if it is normal?? Several people wanted it, true, but still... Regular releases seldom appear, once-twice a year, in May I tried to get it, 50 USD was not enough, someone else got it.

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  33. sooo where do i go to find out the value of a promo copy of a 45rpm of jimi hendrix- suspicious and hot trigger? nnlp247 at yahoo

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  34. Hello I have just a few albums I need info on please
    1) I have a Lynn Anderson record tiltled Greatest hits volume 11 and it has Demonstration not for sale in gold stamp on the back
    2) Another Lynn Anderson album titled " I love what love is doing to me" and that one has for promotion only and it also says ownership reserved by CBS and it also says sale is unlawful all in gold stamp.
    3) Chickie Williams " The beyond the sunset girl" album that one has in black ink stamped on the back in a few places and it says For Deposit only the promotions agency
    4) And last but not least I have a beautiful excellent shape George Jones " White Lightning album 1959 and can not find anything on it someone said it was very rare
    Thank you so much

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    1. The gold promo stamps are typical of promo releases. I don't really do much with ancient country music, but there should be some pricing information on the internet somewhere.

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  35. Hello my question is above about the 4 records. Did you read my message just wanted to check
    thanks

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  36. What's the best website to visit for information on how much old 45's and promo copies are worth? I just inherited a huge quantity of them and feeling a little overwhelmed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Discogs, eBay, and popsike, in that order.

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  37. How do I find out the value of a promo only cd of Alabama The Unedited Singles 1980-1990. I have #1 of 1000

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    1. Should be able to find it online somewhere.. we don't sell any CD's so I have no experience there.

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  38. Hi, we were going through our record collection. I, have been googling for 2 days to find it's worth.
    It is stamped promotional not for sale. Elvis Presley's Don't be cruel. Any way to find the worth of this record?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elvis? You are asking the wrong guy.

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  39. I have a promo Stereo LP.Stamped not for sale promotional use only The record label is DOT The artist is Ike Cole younger brother of the late Nat King Cole. the title of the cover is Picture This' Songs include: The Windmills of Your Mind; For love of Ivy; I Will wait for you; 100 Years;Hushabye mountain, and six others. The sleeve is damaged i.e. the bottom is open. Could you possibly give me some idea of it's value?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I try to stay away from anything older than about 1979. It's mostly because they are harder to value, and usually not worth as much as one would hope. I have little interest in oldies.

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  40. I have a pre release white label copy of Wings - Band On The Run which has tracks that did'nt make the final release. I also have a Promo 12" single of Led Zeppelin - Trampled Under Foot ( marked NOT FOR RESALE) anyone any views on value? Both items were given to me by the Bands/Record labels when working in the music industry in the 70's

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    1. No info online already for these? These are well traveled bands.. there should be lots of information out there. I am not exactly a rock seller so without doing research, I have no idea what they would be worth.

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  41. I have a Granite Records promotional copy of Help/A Hard Day's Night, John Lennon-Paul McCartney, Country Limited. Can you tell me anything about it?

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    1. Should be info online for this one.. I wouldn't have any idea about it offhand.. we don't sell much for oldies.

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  42. Hi, I have several hundred Promo Copies of many different artists and I am looking to see them. Can someone tell me how I can search their values. Contact me @ jco1971136@msn.com. Please put "Promo LP Collection" in the subject of the email so I don't delete it without looking at it.

    Thanks
    Jim

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  43. I have a promo copy of Led Zeppelin's Metallic Opus. Any idea how much it would be worth?
    Cheers,
    Chantelle

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  44. I have a few promotional and unreleased Michael Jackson vinyls would i no anything about them this.is what they say

    1 you rock my world promotional only not for sale
    2 butterflies promotional only not for sale

    3 this time around exclusive promo only demonstration not for sale

    4 blood on the dancefloor remixes demonstration only

    5 stranger in moscow promo #1 demonstration only

    6 stranger in moscow promo #2 demonstration only

    7 one more chance single

    8 billie jean long version single

    9 Michael Jackson in the closet special promo only 2 record set.

    Please let me no how much each is possibly worth thanks.

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  45. Have A Radio Station Copy 45 of Peter Paul and Mary's "Blowin in the Wind" Cannot find really any info on number produced, possible value etc. Just wondering if anyone out there can answer said questions. Thanks.

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  46. Hi I have a promo copy of Brian Hyland "Ginny come lately" and "I should be getting better"on the flipside of this Spartan 45 ABC paramount. Any idea of the value? I just bought it at a thrift shop for a dollar.

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  47. I have a copy of twinkles "what am I doing here with you" on Decca f12464 demo.Can you tell me if it is worth anything?

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  48. I have beatles white album promo On record cover not for sale is it radio station promo b 405269

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  49. I have beatles white album with photos and poster not for sale 83 resuie b 405269 I'm trying find out if this album is radio station promo

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  50. I worked for a few record companies in the 80s/90s. We have a bunch of Promo Albums that I want to sell. Who's interested?

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