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VIP Events - Music and film fairs across Europe and on-line





VIP Events - Music and film fairs
across Europe and on-line


VIP Events are the biggest organisers of music and record fairs in Europe and  was established by 'pioneer' Rob Lythall back in the days when The Internet, MP3s and CDs hadn't been invented. Yes, there really was a time, and it was only 25 years ago, when we used maps to plan a journey and stopped at the side of the road to use a phone box!

Of course, vinyl has had a big rise in popularity after the novelty of CDs wore off and there are a lot of protagonists for the format these days who see the sound quality and the 'experience' of vinyl as superior to other formats. VIP Events hold music and record fairs which are running every week across the UK and satisfy a big demand from dealers and record collectors for buying and selling vinyl and CDs and associated memorabilia and paraphernalia. 

Here, Digger talks to Rob about VIP Events and music collecting.





Digger: Good morning Rob. 

Rob: Good morning David. How are you doing? 

Digger: I'm great thanks. How are you? 

Rob: Great mate. 

Digger: I went to the Peacock's Rock, Pop and Film auctions on Saturday. 

Rob: Oh right. How was it? 

Digger: They work really hard. The auctioneer covered over 600 lots from 10:30 to after 5 but he kept going and kept good-humoured. I got there early to have a look at the items in advance - one of my clients was there buying and selling. These days there are a lot of phone bids and Internet bids. 

Rob: You don't really need to be there these days, do you? 

Digger: No, but as you'll appreciate, it's nice to actually see the items and be able to touch them and inspect them. 

Rob: I know what you mean. Were there any CD lots? 

Digger: I didn't notice any. Collections and assortments of old vinyl. Mainly sports and film memorabilia - hundreds of posters. And then a lot of rock and pop - concert posters, autographs, photos, contracts and, of course, lots of singles and albums from just about every band and genre you can think of. The best Beatles item was a postcard signed by the four Beatles and Brian Epstein. 

Rob: Nice one. How much did that go for?

Digger: It didn't sell.

Rob: What was the reserve? 

Digger: I think the bidding went up to about 4,500 but it didn't get sold so it must have been higher. 

Rob: Considering the amount of 'secretarials' that were done... 

Digger: They had a few of those too - they had two that were signed entirely by John Lennon pretending to sign for all four and another by Paul McCartney. They did sell for a few hundred each. 

Rob: We got an autograph album in where three of them looked good but there's one - because I've seen a lot of their signatures, and I just thought "No, no that's similar to another of the band member's handwriting." 

Digger: You can spot the difference after a while. So can you tell us about your background and the background to VIP Events? 

Rob: My background was that I was training in management in banking in the early eighties. It was a building society called The Town & Country. 

Digger: They gave me my first mortgage!    

Rob: There you go mate. We then became The Woolwich. And I was mad about music and had been buying and selling music since I was at school because I was into Northern Soul music from The States when I was still at school.

Digger: I suppose you got out of banking at just the right time?

Rob: I could tell people before it all went wrong - we could see what was happening. It's all a bit naughty and unnecessary. So, I got into this full-time when I realised I couldn't do evenings and weekends and hold a career down in the daytime if I wanted to stay sane. 

Digger: Was there a decision where you said that you might have to take a lower salary, at least to start, so that you could realise your dream of doing this full-time? 

Rob: Yes really it got to the stage where I was offered a job in Manchester and I'd already turned two or three down and I thought "Right, it's time to crack on with this." 

Digger: Well done you. 

Rob: With the bank I was looking at moving every five years, having a reasonable income but not a lot of fun out of it all. I just took the risk really. And, as it happens, I was kind of like a pioneer really. Because in the eighties there was obviously a changing government and they looked after the self-employed a little bit more and opened the doors a little bit for us. So I managed to get out there, realised the potential of running record fairs almost as a weekly thing. And we could provide weekly work for people like us who loved music and dabbled a little bit in music and could perhaps get a full-time income out of it. 

Digger: Had CDs come in by this stage? 

Rob: Not really, no. 

Digger: And it was pre-Internet. 

Rob: Definitely, so it was all vinyl. I have a friend who was a fully-qualified central heating engineers and who had a huge knowledge of Northern Soul. At the same time as me he turned his back on that and became a DJ and a buyer and seller of music and he's done really well. He's had a good life and done well out of it. So what I did was a) provide the machinery for a lot of people to develop the hobby that they love of collecting and buying music and b) allow people to actually earn a living selling it as well. 

Digger: How much has it changed? 

Rob: In the early days it was trying things and not knowing whether it would work or not. And obviously in the early days there were no such things as price guides, so if you really had the knowledge you didn't have to be a good businessman or salesman. If you just bought right and knew in your head what you could sell it for you could make a killing. But you had to have one of those minds which I never had. 

Digger: I went to Rare Discs in London one day a few years ago - it's gone now, of course. And they had a programme for a Hendrix concert - I think The Move and Pink Floyd were also on the gig. The guy at Rare Discs said he didn't know much about that sort of memorabilia and just wanted to get rid of it and so sold it to me for 10. I later sold it for 200. That was in the 90s so it would be worth a lot more now.  

Rob: My big error was The Sex Pistols God Save The Queen. A&M signed them up and then got rid of them very quickly when they realised what they'd got. They'd actually pressed the first single, God Save The Queen and they destroyed all the singles but they kept a couple of hundred of the singles back - gave out to some employees and I was offered a 25 count box of them at a record fair in Milton Keynes just after we'd started. I knew nothing about it, wasn't interested in punk - I'd even given away EMI promos of The Sex Pistols to my brother because I was only interested in the soul scene. Just not interested in punk. I thought with my businessman's hat on but he wanted 500 for them which was 20 each which was a lot at the time and it would have been our takings for the day and a bit more. Now a rock and roll dealer there took a punt and bought them and got rid of them within a week with a good profit. But now you're probably looking at, wait for it... between 5,000 and 10,000 a pop. 

Digger: Each? 

Rob: Each!

Digger: And you had 25 of them? 

Rob: 25 of them offered to us. That just shows that the man you're interviewing who knows everything knows probably not a lot. (Laughs) 

Digger: Well, we all make mistakes. 

Rob: You can't be an expert in everything. The guy at Rare Discs probably knew everything about blues and jazz and musicals but not rock - came across this thing and thought "I didn't pay anything for it, I'll take a tenner." And we've seen a lot of that where experts have joined the fairs and made a living and have always had boxes of stuff which weren't their kind of bag, you know. And that still happens today. 

Digger: And it's that cliche of being in the right place at the right time. Like at these auctions, you can have the wrong sort of people for the lot and it won't sell but put it in another room and people will be fighting each other for it. How many fairs do you run a year and where Rob? 

Rob: We're running more or less one a week - at one stage there were 100 so we were doing two a week and had two vehicles going to two different places.     

Digger: Is it quieter now? 

Rob: The Internet has effected everything but around three years ago it all stabilised and, in all honesty, the organisers that weren't very good all dropped out so it's really just shaken the business up. There's one magazine now where there were probably two and it's all settled down now. We recently did a new fair up at Westminster and everybody is saying it's like the record fairs ten years ago. 

Digger: Westminster Hall? 

Rob: Yes. Where the film fairs are held. 

Digger: I know. 

Rob: Ed Mason is still running them. Still there - we tried it and it was a roaring success and a nice cafe there for everybody too. 

Digger: It's a nice location that Westminster Hall, right by the park.

Rob: Our fairs - they're all mentioned on the website and it's a good point to go to because we've almost got a brochure on there and it's always there with the latest updates. We do all the big London fairs, all the big fairs in the Midlands, we do one major show out in Norwich which is the only big show on the eastern side of the country. A lot of the guys like it and because it's sixty or seventy tables the public will travel for it. We have a massive queue when we start the day there. And then we have a massive show in Glasgow as well. We've started recently in the north east of England, because some friends of mine who ran the Lancashire and Yorkshire events just wanted to retire. So we took it over and we now go into Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. As you can see we're really covering most of the country on the fairs side. 

Digger: What sorts of dealers and customers come to the fairs? 

Rob: It's across the board really. We're starting to see a few younger people, but generally you're looking at an age range of 30 to 70 and 90% male - all of them love their music and are looking to add to their collections. 

Digger: Why is it that men seem to be such avid collectors compared to women? 

Rob: It's just a blokey thing. 

Digger: At the toy fairs and the film memorabilia shows it always seems to be mostly chaps. 

Rob: Absolutely. You find the men come in and the women go off an buy shoes. 

Digger: A shoe fair. That's an idea...

Rob: That's a good idea. Let's run a shoe fair. Also, in recent times the silver lining on the cloud with The Internet is that we get a lot of people coming into the fairs to buy and re-sell on The Internet. This is quite a crucial development and has started in the last two or three years. 

Digger: You know that's what they're doing? 

Rob: We do. And we ourselves have a wholesale business buying and selling CDs and vinyl and we stall out at all the fairs at good prices simply because these guys will want to look for a discount on volume and we give it to them. So, in a way, we have created a second way of providing income for people by wholesaling to them. And that's happening generally all round. 

Digger: Is it vinyl and CD? 

Rob: Yes, vinyl and CD and some books at some of the fairs. Posters, DVDs - so really across the board. It's sort of half CD and half vinyl, that's the split. Vinyl's still very popular though. 

Digger: Is digital going to have an impact on you over time? 

Rob: Generally we noticed with the vinyl that it dropped considerably when CDs came out but over time it's built and built and built and there is definitely a vinyl collecting fraternity. They want everything mint condition, so prices for a sixties album in mint condition have gone quite high. 

Digger: So that's quite good in a way. 

Rob: Yes, but if you've got a mark on something then it's not worth it. It's important to note that condition is everything. But also with the CDs that seems to have stabilised a bit and it's obvious that, as with vinyl, there are people that want to physically own an album. They want reading material to go with it and to have their own library of music, whereas with downloads and MP3s a lot of the time you don't know much about it - you know the track title but you don't know who produced it or who mixed it or who was playing on it. 

Digger: And you don't get the artwork     

Rob: And you don't get the artwork. So I strongly suspect that although there will be a shrinkage in the CD market there will be a resurgence and a reasonable amount of people still wanting to collect them.

Digger: If somebody has a largish CD or vinyl collection they want to sell, what should they do?

Rob: Well obviously contact me. We find a lot of traders want to pick and choose or cherry pick as we call it so what we tend to do is turn up at somebody's house with a transit van and give them a proper price on everything. So if they want everything moved out at a fair price we'll do that and then really split it down at the fairs so that the dealers can buy one or two here or one or two there. And that tends to work out quite well.

Digger: I noticed at the auction that some boxes of 100 records went for 20 and others went for 200. Somebody had looked through and noticed a couple of gems.

Rob: Yes, there were a couple of good bits in there and they're probably pass the rest on to the charity shop, which we do as well - supporting a few charity shops.

Digger: It's recycling as well, so you have great green credentials.

Rob: Well quite. We like to find a home for everything. We've also just developed, through this large purchasing service we've done a couple of major CD libraries and major radio stations, so we're developing that side. So if anyone is looking on our website they need to know that if they have a massive library of items we have somebody who will deal with it. Size is not an issue and we have been known to rent a couple of seven and a half tonners and dozens of staff clearing libraries out.

Digger: I wonder what happened to John Peel's collection? I recall he had reinforced floors in his house.

Rob: I don't know.

Digger: You've just moved offices. I presume this is as a result of expansion?

Rob: Yes, we needed more space for the business that buys and sells.

Digger: Doing well in this climate can't be bad, can it?

Rob: Exactly. The music business is not doing terribly well at the moment.

Digger: The big music companies were taken by surprise with The Internet and digital and they seemed to be like rabbits in the headlights. They were incredibly slow to react and are now crying foul. What also amazes me is they have such a big resource in their archives and they could make a fortune out of all the images and material that's just lying in vaults if they packaged it well. 

Rob: Yes, I agree.

Digger: What plans have you got for VIP Events Rob?

Rob: We've just tested Leeds and Westminster this year so they're two new fairs we have for next year and it takes up most of the weekends. But we are always looking to expand our coverage - Cardiff, for example, we have a lot of clients who keep asking us to go back there.

Digger: Yes, I wondered about the west because you didn't mention it.

Rob: Cardiff and Bristol, particularly Cardiff, the council just wouldn't put signs up telling people where we were.

Digger: That was helpful of them.

Rob: We needed a much better central venue which we're looking for. That may happen, you never know. But we're particularly majoring on the buying and selling as well. That's where people want us, where we're getting phone calls all the time and we're eon the road twice a week now looking at large collections and there's more coming in. And it all has to be processed. (Laughs)

Digger: It sounds as though there's a lot going on.

Rob: Busy, busy.

Digger: And really exciting.

Rob: Yes, it is.

Digger: And well done you. 

Rob: Thanks.

Digger: It all goes back to that original decision you made.

Rob: Yes, you look back and it was a no-brainer really but at the time it was a risk. And to some extent, okay I'm blowing my own trumpet, but I've created the marketplace - I knew something was there that could be tapped into.

Digger: And you did it.

Rob: We did it and we got people interested in it and they enjoy it and make a living out of it.

Digger: What do you enjoy most about what you're doing?

Rob: Now, I suppose, it's buying a new collection of CDs or vinyl and getting it back here and actually having a look through it. Pulling the odd thing out for yourself. Surprises every day. And it's just good working in music, really. We can have music on in the office and there's no boss saying "Turn that down." One of them's got an iPod going and the other's playing something on CD. It's like a crazy disco. 

Digger: You must end up losing a lot of your weekends?

Rob: Well, I'm 52 years old and feeling it now, so I try to design it so that I don't have to do the leg work so often. We've got lads that can do the smaller fairs and then they're keeping the name out there and it's all working. So I'm getting a few weekends off now to get some strength back. (Both laugh)

Digger: Well, Rob, it's been good talking to you.

Rob: And to you David.

Digger: Well done and I hope to meet you at Westminster. I'll pencil that one in.

Rob: February 26th 2012.

Digger: Looking forward to it.

Rob: Alright boss. Take care David.

Digger: Take care. Bye.







VIP Events - Music and film fairs
across Europe and on-line


VIP is the UK's specialist in buying large collections of vinyl, Cds, DVDs, music related. No cherry picking. Call 07802258080



Welcome to the world's only on-line music and film fair! VIP has been in the business of bringing buyers and sellers together for over twenty years. VIP is the largest organiser of Music Fairs in Europe and produces world-renowned shows at Wembley, Olympia, National Indoor Arena, the Scottish Exhibition centre plus a further fifteen venues. During the last two decades more product has been bought, sold and displayed via the company, than any other medium in the world. So, with, you have the backing of a major, established company, AND a new, exciting way to buy or sell. is the result of several years' research into the habits of buying and selling film and music. This a unique place where buyers and sellers come together in a VIRTUAL EXHIBITION HALL. VIP runs the virtual hall and sellers offer their product or service from their stand within the hall.

As a buyer, you can click on a stand and review part of the seller's stock or search for an item on that particular stand or all sellers' stands.

If you are a seller, you'll see that VIP operates on a 'commission only' basis. This means that you do not face any charges until we produce orders for you.

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Tel: +44 (0) 116 275 2815







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