In rotation: 3/17/20

Why the music biz needs to work together, not isolate during the coronavirus crisis: Working in the music business last week felt like being in the first 20 minutes of a disaster film. You knew something bad was coming, it was just a question of when. And then rapidly, the dominoes started falling: South By Southwest, Coachella, MUSEXPO, C2C, Big Weekend, Record Store Day, countless live shows, big and small. All postponed, with varying degrees of fallout for organisers and participants. As I write, the UK has yet to enact a formal lockdown, although it may well happen soon enough. But everywhere you look, the potential impact of the pandemic on almost every aspect of the music business is already looking very serious indeed. On the financial markets, companies from Live Nation to Vivendi have seen billions wiped off their market cap. Indie acts and labels have had their 2020 plans and finances thrown into disarray by the loss of SXSW. The loss of footfall will hit physical music retailers hard.

Anderson, GA | The vinyl experience: Anderson business rides wave of hobby’s resurgence. Australian entertainer Peter Allen gained fame in the 1970s with a song called “Everything Old is New Again.” The title of that vinyl classic is an appropriate way to describe the philosophy that Bob Bantz and his son, James, have applied to their business. Elusive Disc, an audiophile company that specializes in hard-to-find titles in a variety of media, is among the hundreds of warehouse retailers capitalizing on a resurgence in the popularity of vinyl records over the past decade. In the first half of last year alone, sales of vinyl records outpaced those of CDs for the first time since 1986, according to data from the Recording Industry Association of America. And vinyl is proliferating online, with approximately 5.7 million such items listed on Discogs, a database of information on audio recordings, and an additional 2.5 million used vinyl recordings available on eBay. “There’s just a tactile experience” with vinyl, Bob said.

Philadelphia, PA | Fans hope Sound of Philly studio can become music museum: What’s the most significant Philadelphia music landmark that needs to be saved? …On a recent Wednesday, a group of Sigma Sound veterans from the studio’s glory days joined a younger generation of Philly music lovers and preservationists for a #SaveSigma brainstorming session, to mull the future of the gutted building that has been owned by real estate developers since 2015. The meeting was called by Max Ochester, the mover-and-shaker owner of the Brewerytown Beats record store and label, an impassioned advocate for the preservation of Philly music. Ochester wants to not only save the Sigma Sound building, but also turn it into a museum. “Not a Sigma museum,” he said. “But a Philadelphia music history museum” — an institution sorely lacking in a city that has been home to Marian Anderson, Billie Holiday, Eugene Ormandy, Hall & Oates, Schoolly D, and the War on Drugs. Speakers at the Sigma summit, held at the Spring Arts Building in Callowhill, included David Ivory, who engineered Erykah Badu’s 1997 album Baduizm at Sigma, as well as several by an up-and-coming Philly band called the Roots.

These Wooden Record Dividers Let You Sort Your Collection By Feelings: Anyone who collects records has one main gripe about their collection, and it’s not that some of their LPs skip (that’s just part of their overall charm!). Records are notoriously hard to organize and store in a way where specific albums are easily found. The lack of spine and thin shape often leaves collectors sifting through their stash in search of the perfect LP. So, Kate Koeppel of Koeppel Design decided to do something about it, and her record dividers are the perfect storage solution for any record junkie. Made by a team of “organization-obsessed craftswomen” based in San Francisco, California, Koeppel’s wood divider sets come in an array of different organization options. For example, if you like to sort your record based on genre, there’s a divider set for that. If you prefer an alphabetical organization system a la your favorite record store, there’s also a divider set for that. Koeppel even designed a divider set that will help you sort your collection by feelings.

Isle of Wight, UK | The first cut is the deepest: Isle of Wight musician Paul Armfield’s new album has lino prints as part of package: A new vinyl release by Isle of Wight musician Paul Armfield will come packaged with a collection of original linocut prints depicting scenes of ‘native’ plants, complementing the ten songs. Paul said: “My last album, Found, came boxed with a CD and postcards and was such a success, the 1000 copies selling out very quickly, with people really appreciating that they had something special. “As music becomes more and more devalued in the digital age, I want to give back a sense of worth to my music, to demonstrate that there is a lot of love, care, thought and consideration behind it. “I also want the packaging to enhance the experience of listening: the inks and the papers I have chosen have a feel and a smell, and the images I’ve created offer a further context to the lyrics, and it all works together to create a greater and more personal experience.” Paul is running a crowd-funding campaign to finance the project, as he does not feel a record company would agree to it.

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