Frequently Asked Questions > Finding Albums to Purcase
8.0 Where can I buy cast albums, rare or otherwise?
The best all-around source for cast albums in America is Footlight Records in New York City. Cast albums, soundtracks, and solo albums by notable stage performers (among other things) are typically available there from the day they are released (often several days earlier, actually) to the day their supplies completely dry up. They also always have a few rare items for sale on their web site, and if you're lucky enough to be able to visit, you'll find a large and varied section of used CDs for sale. Their selection of vinyl albums, too, is staggering. The only real downside to shopping here is that the pricing is usually fairly high.
Another specialty store of note is Colony Records, also in New York City. The convenience of its location (in the heart of the Broadway theatre district, right across the street from the Winter Garden) is equalled by the horror of its pricing -- a garden-variety new release on CD will typically cost $20.98 there, and prices can jump as high as $150 for even slightly rare things (the OBCR of Chess, for example, which was readily available even two years ago). Shopping there, too, is a less pleasurable experience at Colony than at Footlight; the CD catalog is not open for your perusal without the help of the staff. (The vinyl albums are, though.) But when you want to find an out-of-print album and you've almost given up hope, this is often the place where you're going to find it.
From Dave Carey: "If one is in Los Angeles and has time to go to the store, Arons Records on Highland Ave between Santa Monica Blvd and Franklin Ave is a place to find items that might be out of print elsewhere. Brad Bennett (retired, works Tue and Thur of each week) knows his show music, is a collector in his own right and orders so that he always has a few copies of past and out out print shows in his bins. They have a website but few show related items every show up because they are scooped up in the store before ever getting that far. They also have a huge selection of Show Music and Soundtracks that are used and reasonably priced."
The online auction explosion has proven itself a godsend to collectors. eBay now has a section called Soundtracks:Theater (ignore the title), on which you'll occasionally find even the rarest albums up for auction. You might even get them if you really luck out, or have a fortune to blow on music. There are many other auction sites, of course... and they aren't even worth mentioning in this context. You won't find the good stuff there.
Don't forget altogether about Amazon, Media Play, Tower, and so forth... There are times when you'll find priceless things abandoned in the racks or on-line. There are also great bargains to be had by shopping at these places regularly. But they don't quickly restock items that aren't great sellers. If you want to check around at a variety of places, you'd do well to use DealTime, which searches all of the major on-line CD retailers at once. If something's available at even one place, you'll find it that way. If something's available in several (or many) places, you'll get the best price. And you don't have to spend three bloody hours searching every site individually.
For London cast albums, try Dress Circle. What's unavailable domestically may be still possible to find as an import -- I recently got some of the Sony West End albums there. Australian cast albums can be found at Middle 8 Music. A general site for British theatre memorabilia is C20th.
If you want more mundane (easier to find, anyway) things, check out Half.com. Not very many cast albums are usually up for sale there, but you can set up a "wish list" there for things which you know will probably be available elsewhere for a while, and it will then notify you when any of them have been posted. Prices there are generally well under sticker price, even when the item for sale is fairly valuable.
Finally, when all of your regular options have been exhausted, you'll want to use a collector's service. My personal favorite is All Music Services, which has a number of rare items in stock and has waiting lists for many others, which come in periodically. You'll probably pay more, but if your chances of finding what you want are zero otherwise, it's probably more than worth it. Email queries to Michael Mascioli.
Last updated 10/15/2002. Send comments to Mike Benedetto.