I considered titling this post “CDs: Nuts to Hold on to Them”, but figured a few 90’s gangsta rap fan pop culture LOLs weren’t worth the otherwise poor title. See – I’m cool and funny. Jokes aside, if you have a bunch of old compact discs laying around, collecting dust, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much they could potentially be worth, with a few selling tips. So let’s get started.
At one sad, girlfriend-less point in my life, almost 100% of my income went to pay for media – CDs, video games, sports cards, and VHS tapes. And I grew quite the collection.
Over the years, the remnants of that media collection had dwindled, but a library of over 200 CDs had survived. Today, with a growing appreciation for minimalism and the advent of streaming services joining a vast library of MP3s that I’ve purchased over the years, I almost never muster the will to physically hunt down and take a CD with me anywhere anymore. So the collection has sat, unused, collecting dust, and taking up space – when it could be doing what it was created to do: delightfully reverberating in the ear drums of fine human beings who share a similar exquisite taste in music as yours truly.
At first glance, selling your CDs probably seems like a fruitless money-losing endeavor. For some unworldly reason, there are people on Amazon and EBay willingly selling CDs for as low as $0.01 each. Note: I can’t fathom why this phenomenon exists – you could donate the CDs and get far more than $0.01 each with a charitable tax deduction, without the hassle of shipping and having to pay for any packaging materials to ship. You used to be able to, that is. Tax reform resulted in a doubling of the standard deduction, and the number of Americans claiming itemized deductions (including donations such as CDs) dropped to about 11%. I digress.
However, even despite this market absurdity, I believe I’ve cracked the code on how to profitably sell off your CD collection, and do it in a relatively painless way. Here’s what I’ve discovered…
Step 1: Price Out the CDs to See if you Have Any Rarities or High Value Titles
Don’t just take all of your CDs in for donation or dump them in a $1 box in a garage sale. The first thing you should do is check to see if you have any rare high value titles. Start by searching for the CD on Amazon to see the asking price and/or searching for sold and completed listings on EBay.
Surprisingly, within my CD collection, I found 3 CDs valued at over $50 each – far more than I paid for them. Two of the 3 were imports and the third was a limited edition collector that is no longer in production.
Additionally, I found 5 other CDs with a value of $20 or more – all of which were no longer in production and from smaller labels. That’s $250 for just 8 titles, within my ~200 title collection.
Step 2: Sell the Rare/High Value CDs Individually
In the CD world, I’d consider a CD that has a value of $5+ a rare/high value SKU. You’ll find that a lot of “greatest hits” albums sell for more than other titles (I assume because it is cheaper than buying MP3s individually at ~$1 each). Sell these CDs individually on EBay versus packaging them with others, as this is how you’ll get the best total value for these titles and your entire collection.
There is the matter of how to sell them. I’ve found that the best platform/method for selling CDs is EBay, with “Buy it now” listings. If you sell less than 50 items per month on EBay, there are no insertion fees and total basic fees are 10% of the value of the sale. EBay even offers discounted USPS postage, which lowers the total cost of sale. Always ship USPS “media mail”, as it will be cheaper than any other service. If selling 1 CD, I usually set the postage at a flat media mail rate of $3 and ship to the United States only.
Find out the average price these items have sold for recently, then list it at the average price.
Step 3: If 3+ Titles from 1 Artist, Bundle Them
Bundling by artist (minus the high value discussed prior) is the best way to unload your collection on EBay, for 3 reasons.
- It’s a convenient way to sell through your collection quickly. Multiple titles lumped with 1 photo, 1 listing, less packaging and shipping.
- It’s a more profitable way for you to sell.
- It’s a cheaper and more convenient way for buyers to buy.
#2 and #3 are linked. If you’re a buyer, why not go and find a used CD on EBay or Amazon for $0.01 – $3 and buy it individually? Because the cost of shipping for each individual purchase (typically at a minimum of $3) adds up quickly. Instead, why not pay more for the CDs, but spread your shipping cost across 3, 5, or more CDs for an artist that you want to dig in on?
Selling in this manner to these informed buyers, I’ve averaged $3-$4 per CD and even banked a little bit of profit on the shipping, which can add up to a tidy little sum. If 3+ CDs, I set the USPS media mail shipping at $5. I bump it up to $6 if 7+ CDs. At these amounts, I almost always come out ahead on the shipping.
Step 4: “You Pick”
One clever way that I’ve seen sellers boost sales values is to create a list of all remaining albums they want to sell, by genre, and ask buyers to, for example, “Pick 4 for $10”, until their list dwindles to a few titles.
I sold quite a few this way before EBay took my listing down. I don’t remember what the policy justification was for doing so, but you may want to be aware they didn’t like it (my account was not suspended or anything like that). If you’re worried about that, you could try Craigslist or elsewhere.
Step 5: Bundle by Genre or Donate
To get rid of the remaining CDs, you have a choice:
- Option 1: Bundle by all low value CDs that you cannot bundle by artist by genre and sell them as a “lot”. For example – classic rock, hard rock, R&B, rap, indie, grunge, jazz, electronica, etc. Similar to how buyers might be exploring a particular artist, they might also be exploring an entire genre. Doing this, you can typically average $1 per CD. You can bundle these for sale on EBay or Facebook Marketplace. The amount of money isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing. And it keeps them out of the landfill and frees up space in your home. Even better, you can…
- Option 2: Donate (whether you get a tax deduction or not).
If you will still itemize your taxes in this new tax-reform world, you’re probably going to be better off financially by donating your remaining CDs (and it just feels better). Make a list for your records.
And that’s it – follow these tips and watch the cash roll in. I’m in the mid-hundreds thus far – not bad! Please share your success stories and any other CD selling tips in the comments below!