In rotation: 3/19/20

Record Labels Take Another Hit as Amazon Stops Accepting Vinyl and CD Shipments: Although probably no one will begrudge Amazon prioritizing essential goods and services during a pandemic, the company’s decision to put a temporary halt to incoming shipments of physical media is subjecting record labels — particularly independent imprints that do a good deal of business in vinyl and CDs — to yet another blow. Amazon has announced that its warehouses has “temporarily disabled shipment creation” for discretionary items through at least April 5. That doesn’t have to do with the outflow of product from Amazon, but inflow. Amazon is declaring an immediate emphasis on the kind of household and medical supplies that have been quick to sell out, and which customers are having a hard time finding in person. Their message to record labels and distributors: Please stop sending us anything, until further notice.

Bandcamp Will Forfeit Its Share Of Sales Friday, Urges Direct Support Of Musicians: Bandcamp, the digital storefront and streaming music platform used by hundreds of thousands of artists and thousands of record labels, will forgo collecting its share of revenue from sales on the site made this Friday, March 20, the company announced on Tuesday. The initiative will be active from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m Pacific time. The global coronavirus outbreak has put many musicians in a state of extreme financial precarity as their main source of income, live performance, has been suspended while the world struggles to contain the pandemic. “For many artists, a single day of boosted sales can mean the difference between being able to pay rent or not,” Ethan Diamond, the CEO and co-founder of Bandcamp, writes. “Still, we consider this just a starting point. Musicians will continue to feel the effects of lost touring income for many months to come, so we’re also sharing some ideas below on how fans can support the artists they love and how artists can give fans new, creative ways to provide support.”

Covid-19 Music Industry Update: Proper Music Distribution. MD Drew Hill has given an update on how the company is responding to Covid-19. You can read it here: “I would like to update you on the steps Proper Music Group are taking in response to the latest advice on COVID-19. Our Dartford warehouse remains open for business as usual, with all precautions being taken over the health of our staff. While at present stock is moving smoothly, some disruption may be inevitable down the line as the situation continues to develop. From today, the team at our Surrey Quays office (sales, marketing, label management and international business) will work as normal from home, for an initial two week period. Meetings planned with our team in person can proceed by video conferencing – we will be in touch on how to connect in such instances. As a reminder Record Store Day has been postponed until Saturday June 20, a sensible move in view of the safety of the music buying community. That aside, it’s very much business as usual, and while events are upon us that we could never have predicted, the Proper can-do spirit will continue to prevail!”

The lost art of deep listening: Choose an album. Lose the phone. Close your eyes. What’s your favorite album? When was the last time you listened — actually listened — to it from start to finish? With intention, like you were watching a movie or reading a novel. Clear your schedule for the next three hours. Choose three full albums, whether from your collection or your streaming service of choice. Put them in an ordered queue as though you were programming a triple feature. Because, listen: Musicians spend years making their albums. They struggle over syllables, melodies, bridges and rhythms with the same intensity with which you compare notes on the “Forensic Files” reboot, loot corpses in “Fortnite” or pound Cabernet during pandemics. But most of us are half-assed when it comes to listening to albums. We put on artists’ work while we’re scrolling through Twitter, disinfecting doorknobs, obsessively washing our hands or romancing lovers permitted within our COVID-free zones. We rip our favorite tracks from their natural long-player habitat, drop them into playlists and forget the other songs, despite their being sequenced to be heard in order.

Stoke-on-Trent, UK | Music memories of the swinging sixties and the heyday of vinyl records: A recent issue of TWWW prompted me to recall my own childhood memories from earlier times during the 1950s/60s when I was an avid collector. Who can remember hearing their first pop record? Well, I can nail it down to March 1950 when Music! Music! Music! crackled over our old valve radio. I learned later it was Teresa Brewer’s record. Our old house had no gramophone or radiogram and the songs I heard came solely from the radio, especially Radio Luxembourg. For a brief spell I listened to Luxy’s Top 20, which was based on street music sales (song copies). They fascinated me so much that I prepared my own fantasy charts. As the 50s progressed I switched my allegience to the expanding New Musical Express record chart, then a top 20 which was dominated by American crooners and balladeers, namely Frankie Laine, Guy Mitchell, Nat King Cole, Johnnie Ray, Kay Starr and The Four Aces. The Brits battled back with David Whitfield, Dickie Valentine, Ronnie Hilton, Ruby Murray, Alma Cogan and Jimmy Young. In 1955 Jimmy Young was top dog for many weeks with Unchained Melody and The Man from Laramie. It was around this time that my close school pal Ray Ball introduced me to the world of records. I was in awe of his growing collection of 78s and his modern three-speed Philips record player, Oh, the countless record sessions.

Brighton, UK | ‘Dinked’ vinyl editions – the first 50: I’m sure that many Brighton residents and those from surrounding areas have quite possibly at one time or another popped into Resident music store in Brighton. Some of you would have spied on the shelves brand new records with the words “Dinked Edition” on certain album front covers when browsing and thus been a tad perplexed as to what this actually means. The Brighton & Hove News Music Team investigates on your behalf … Obviously many of you would be aware of the terminology used on ‘Match Of The Day’ to refer to a ‘soft chip method’, as in “The striker dinked the ball over the goalie and scored”, but it’s usage within the music industry may not be that clear. So what exactly is a dinked record? Well basically historically speaking, ‘dinking’ was (and no doubt still is) a post-manufacture change to a 7″ record to make it playable on a jukebox. In other words, the small hole in the centre of the record must be made much larger.

Louisville, KY | Louisville-based Carmichael’s Bookstore offering free home book delivery: Small businesses are coming up with innovative and creative ways for customers to shop local but from a distance. Carmichael’s Bookstore is bringing books straight to customers’ doors for free. It’s a service the store has always offered in certain zip codes, but now, the bookstore is offering free delivery throughout Louisville.Customers can order online or call their local Carmichael’s Bookstore location to use the free book delivery option. Carmichael’s Bookstore is canceling all in-store events for the rest of the month. In the meantime, stores will remain open unless they are otherwise directed to close. All of this is in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bookstore employees said it’s more important now than ever before to support local small businesses. “We just want to make sure people realize there are options,” said Jonathan Hawpe, a store employee. “There are ways to shop at local businesses, whether it’s the local record store down the street from us doing the same kind of thing or bookstores. We can get books to you. You can pick them up on the curbside, not come into the store, or we will deliver them to your door.”

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