If you know me, you know I am the king of nerdiness. I was out in Stockholm and went into a second-hand store that carries used vinyl, CDs, and Comic books. No, I more or less sighed over the CDs. As a collector’s item, they really are dead. Vinyls, no I’m not a vinyl freak. I guess running a distribution service for over twenty years with vinyls I am pretty bored with the format. Still, it’s a collector's item and there were a couple of strange guys going through the boxes of different vinyls. No, I’m collecting comics, only white men in their 40:s are collecting those I guess the kids of today don’t really know what a comic book is they just think that is a merch item that went with the movie.
In front of me in the queue line was an older guy that wanted to sell some old comics. Usually, they are quite expensive. If you had a pretty good copy of Donald Duck from the 50’s it was worth money. The prices have gone down lately. The old man was unhappy with the price, so I overheard the conversation and after he left talked a bit to the owner about why the comics have gone down.
“They haven’t in one way. The problem is that Tradera (the Swedish version of E-bay) makes it so easy to put something out for sale that now a copy really has to be in mint condition to fetch the big money. Suddenly now it also should be mint condition first edition to attract the collector. The problem these sites have flooded the market and by that dumped the prices”, the guy explained.
He was totally right. His store is now selling more on Tradera, E-bay than in the store. Everything just becomes available. Part of being a collector is the hunt. You go around in small obscure shops and find a bargain. Now everything is online you just put in what you seek, and the internet will send you a message when it’s coming out. That is like playing chess and having the help of a computer. Where is the fun?
To get the whole collection you get it extremely easy online, you just wait for the notes from the sites to come in. Or you must have a lot of money to buy exceedingly rare items for a lot of cash. Also, you lost the driving force to get out there to hunt down that item that you were looking for. You don’t need to know the history of an object and where to find it. You just buy it.
I drew parallels with the music industry. A lot of my bands I liked as a kid were impossible to buy in my hometown. First of all, the records stores in my hometown Örebro really sucked! It was like old dudes digging country and thought they really understood music. They thought they were cool when they brought in bands that were hot ten years after their peak. Calling these stores record stores is like calling McDonalds fine dining. So, I was going to Stockholm the capital of special fairs to hunt down strange copies of Ramones, Mistfits records, and memorabilia. That happened two times a year and it was like Christmas two times extra a year. These times were a hunt and a coolness to find something new. Also, you find some new stuff.
Today you find these rare collection items more than the big hits online. Since they are rare, people shared these first, so they are really out there. The Internet gave us all and also killed the nerdiness of collections. Now it is only mint conditions that are of value. Not to be heard just to collect for a lot of money. Like an investment.
My hunt for the next thing is almost dead. I still go to car boot sales and find stuff. Just because they are not online you can still hunt cool things down. Also, find stuff that you never have seen; you learn something. Online you just type in exactly what you know and then you just have that.
So where is the nerdiness that I need? It used to be in the live scene. Seeing new artists on small stages. That was a driving force. Then Covid hit and took that away. So, I could find a new artist online. No, you really can’t; it’s the same stupid things as collecting things online. There is no hunt, there is no excitement. It is killing the game. I am just waiting for Covid to go away and I can get back out hunting for new cool music. My guess also that it will explode with new music. But I will get back to that in another of my stories.
Luckily, I can nerd down in other things. I just pumped my aquarium. And here the internet is great to find new things since you are not a collector you just need practical solutions. So, I can still be a nerd, but the internet is a double-edged sword in the battle.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes scheduled for September 16-18, 2021.