November 19th, 2007 5:33 pm | by Paige Richmond Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns, Columns

Dear You: Buying What I'm Selling

cdstacksYou tell me, Portland: Is earning $33 for selling 60 CDs a fair deal?

It's a question I can't really answer myself, because I have to admit that, until yesterday, I'd never sold CDs in this town. In the past five years, I've only accumulated more and more CDs without getting rid of any. I would say I had about 200 CDs in my collection when I first moved here, and as of yesterday I had somewhere in the area of 350.

I'm not bragging, Portland; if anything, I'm a little embarrassed by my musical stock. For one, I started that collection when I was 16 and living in southern California. This means most of my music doesn't fit with this town's whole musical paradigm: Very little of it is local, since I only started collecting Portland-area music earlier this year. Most of my music is nostalgic for the time I spent working in a record store during my late teens. Back then, Portland, I was a voracious collector: Anything within the punk/emo/hardcore genres was fair game, since I often got free promotional copies of CDs and I could buy whatever I wanted at a 40% discount.

So, when I dragged myself to Everyday Music to sell 60 of my least-favorite discs, I was not expecting much, Portland. I assumed I might sell 20 or 30 of them, maybe get $2 each, and walk out with $50. Needless to say, I was surprised when the girl behind the counter offered to take them all—but for the low, low price of $33. (My math isn't great, but I figure that's about 50 cents per CD.)

I don't blame Everyday Music for my less-than-exceptional profits. From what I've heard, that store is the best place in town to sell music; they will buy pretty much anything and everything. This means, Portland, that I have only you to blame. Apparently, there's just no market in this town for my former musical tastes.

Honestly, Portland, is the emo, hardcore and punk music I once loved that worthless to you? I understand that local music—something my for-sale collection was admittedly lacking—is a big thing here. In fact, it's something I greatly admire and respect about you, Portland: You love and nurture your artists. But does that mean there's no music from outside this fair city you'd pay a least one dollar for? Yes, admittedly, my non-Portland music wasn't anything special. I can name a few CDs that weren't worth much: San Diego emocore band A Beautiful Mistake's debut album Light a Match, For I Deserve to Burn; Boston hardcore outfit Reach the Sky's 1999 release So Far From Home; or even Madonna's Immaculate Collection, Vol. 1.

But there were other CDs I thought you would appreciate, Portland. What about riot grrl bands like Bangs or Bratmobile, who were both once signed to Olympia's Kill Rock Stars? What about some of my punk staples like …And Out Come the Wolves by Rancid? And I know not all of my emo CDs were worthless, Portland, as only two hours later, while selling most of my wardrobe at Buffalo Exchange, I spied an employee wearing a Saves the Day pin on his T-shirt. This proves I'm not the only Portlander who once loved (or in this Buffalo Exchange employee's case, still loves) New Jersey's punk-meets-emo heroes.

Yes, I am grateful for my $33, Portland. It's more money than I had before I left the house yesterday. But I'd be happier to know that there was room in this town for my teenage musical taste. We may have a great music scene now, Portland, but everyone has to got to start somewhere (and we can't always credit Elliott Smith or Dead Moon or even Sleater-Kinney for inspiring every good band we've seen in the last few years). Everythone out there owns embarrassing music, be it a John Denver record or a Reel Big Fish CD or a Blink-182 cassette. Sometimes we'll try to make a few bucks off our poor taste, but it's important to remember where we came from--even if it's southern California.

Random internet image taken from here.

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