An auction of rare “white label” album test pressings has raised nearly £34,000 (about US $47, 850) for the BRIT Trust. The auction featured 115 lots and attracted collectors of such artists as The Cure, PJ Harvey, Mark Knopfler, and Kylie Minogue.
The White Label Auction in Aid of The BRIT Trust was held on May 5. It realized a net total of £33,920.40 for the Trust, the music industry charity that supports a wide range of causes promoting education and wellbeing through music. These include the BRIT School and the music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins.
Items for the auction were contributed by the UK’s major labels and independents, including Universal Music UK, BMG, Cherry Red, EMI, Heavenly Records, Island Records, Polydor Records, Sony Music Entertainment UK, and Warner Music UK.
An expensive Cure
Adding further interest, many of the test pressings were signed or personalised by the artists in some way. Music memorabilia and vinyl records specialists Omega Auctions paid the highest price for any of the lots, spending £2,700 for a set of two test pressings of The Cure’s Japanese Whispers (signed by frontman Robert Smith with the words “bring three and fourpence”) and Seventeen Seconds. Another Cure test pressing of Bloodflowers, released in in 2020 for Record Store Day, went for £950.
A 2021 test-pressing of PJ Harvey’s Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, signed and personalised by the artist with a doodle on the disc label, sold for £1,800. Two test pressings of Kylie’s 2020 album Disco (one of them a deluxe edition, and both signed) raised £1,100 and £1,250 respectively. Three Eric Clapton-related white labels, one with Cream, sold for at least £1,000 each.
The auction also included test pressings by The Who, The Kinks, Paul Weller, Blondie, UB40, The Mission, Soul II Soul, Beastie Boys, KT Tunstall, and Neneh Cherry. Mark Knopfler contributed white labels for both of the recently-released half-speed masters of Local Hero and Brothers In Arms.
The last item to be sold was a 2-LP pressing of the Cranberries’ 2002 compilation, Stars, signed by Dolores O’Riordan’s mother and the surviving members of the band, for £400.
‘Incredible artist support’
Johnny Chandler, A&R Director at UMC, Universal Music UK, who devised the auction and collated the items with his team, said: “With most offices still closed due to lockdown, it was really challenging for everyone involved to pull this together, which has made the result all the more wonderful. The level of artist support has been incredible.
“Whether it be signed copies from many including PJ Harvey, Robert Smith, and Neneh Cherry, tweets and social posts from Kylie, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, The Who and many more right up to the start of the auction, commitment from the artist community, the labels and ultimately the fans has been exceptional. So too the work of the teams at Omega Auctions and the BPI.
“With charities at present facing so many difficult funding situations, it’s brilliant these rare vinyl LPs can make a contribution to the positive work of The BRIT Trust, and I hope we can do it all again next year.”
‘No end to the power of music’
Tony Wadsworth CBE, Chair of The BRIT Trust, added: “It seems like there is no end to the power of music to do good – it’s helped so many of us through lockdown, and now in the shape of the White Label Auction it is providing much needed funds that will support the vital work of The BRIT Trust.
“We are grateful to all the artists and labels for so generously contributing their test pressings and support, and to Johnny Chandler and the team at Universal UMC for pulling it all together.”
Dan Hampson, Auction Manager at Omega Auctions, noted: “We’re once again astounded by the fantastic amount raised in aid of a great cause. This was a really enjoyable sale to work on and we’re honored to have had the chance to sell some exciting and unique records. We saw excellent bidder numbers and some very strong bidding in this sale, which came together very well despite the limitations imposed by Covid. We’re excited to see what the next edition will bring.”