In rotation: 3/20/20

UK | Amazon ‘still very much business as usual’ for record labels in the UK, says distributor Proper Music: …Things, aren’t working out quite as bleakly for the record business as first feared. At least not in the UK, where we’re told that “Amazon are still ordering from music suppliers” – and not just honouring previously agreed orders, but also replenishing stock for new orders. That’s according to Drew Hill, Managing Director of Proper Music Group, which distributes for nearly 1,000 independent labels, represents around 10% of the UK physical recorded music market and handles over 1 million titles at any time. Proper handles logistics in the UK for companies such as Epitaph, Ingrooves, Redeye, Concord, The Orchard, Believe, Absolute and AWAL. As such, the firm has recently managed the physical releases for artists including BTS, Lauv and Nick Cave. “Amazon UK is still very much business as usual,” Hill told MBW today…

Wilmington, NC | As ’Rona rages, Gravity Records plays on: The revered Wilmington record shop has added delivery and pick-up options to help maintain business during the coronavirus crisis. Owning a record store in 2020 was already a challenge. Then, the coronavirus hit. But if Matt Keen, who founded the Wilmington shop Gravity Records 16 years ago, wasn’t a survivor, he would’ve been gone long ago. He’s already lived through the death of CDs and the rise of digital. So, with the COVID-19 crisis threatening to wreck the entire economy and make things that much tougher for independent record stores, an idea “just popped into my head,” Keen said. “Whatever I can do to make a sale.” Gravity is now offering “porch drop offs” of the vinyl records that are its bread and butter, as well as curbside pick-up at its 612 Castle Street location and, of course, mail-order. (To place an order, call 910-343-1000.) “I’m trying not to allow people in the store,” he said. “But if someone wants to come in and look at the jazz records? We’re a pretty big space.”

Bangor, ME | Bull Moose continues to pay employees despite closures: Bull Moose Music has closed all its physical locations until at least March 28th. The annually celebrated “Record Store Day” has also been rescheduled until June 20th. A representative from the store said both dates are subject to change, depending on future developments with the coronavirus pandemic. Despite sending most of its employees home during the closure, Bull Moose has opted to pay its employees for the shifts they’d normally be scheduled. “They’ve always treated their employees right,” said Bangor assistant store manager Jesse Giroux. “I know the decision came kind of late on Sunday. None of us were really expecting this- to be closed or that we would be get paid for the closure too. But it’s nice having them look out for us like that.” Bull Moose says while the physical stores may be closed, their online store is still very much open for business.

Los Angeles, CA | Curbside Pickup at Amoeba Hollywood Available Through March 22: In response to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns, Amoeba Hollywood is now offering curbside pickup! Call the store and ask to do a phone order for curbside pickup. Our staff will pull your order for you and bring it out to your car! Curbside pickup will be available 11am – 6pm through Sunday, March 22. 1. Call us at 323-245-6400 and ask to do a curbside pickup. 2. Pay over the phone by credit card. We accept Visa, Mastercard & Discover. Store credit, gift certificates, and coupons may not be applied to curbside pickup purchases. 3. When you arrive, park on the Ivar side of the store at a meter. If none available, park in front of the Ivar loading dock entrance. Call the store and let us know you are ready for pickup. 4. Items must be picked up by 6pm each day.

UK | How record shops are getting vinyl to you during the Coronavirus pandemic: Local deliveries from owners, curbside pickups and more. Around the world, the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting small businesses across every industry, and independent record shops are no exception. If you are in a position to do so, it is as important as ever to support your favourite local shop, and in turn artists and labels. While social-distancing and lockdowns become implemented globally, and physical browsing is increasingly put on hold, local shops are finding alternative ways to get vinyl to customers. Here are a few examples, with more to be added as updates to this story.

Salisbury, UK | Salisbury record store to remain shut until end of summer – customers encouraged to buy online: One of Salisbury’s independent businesses which temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak has decided to not reopen until the end of the summer. Vinyl Collectors and Sellers on the High Street shut at the end of last week in a bid to keep staff and customers safe. Owner Paul Smith confirmed today that closing was “100% the right thing to do” and confirmed that the store will remain shut until September 30. Mr Smith’s main concern, which led him to close, was that stock may be infected with the virus – which can live on hard surfaces for up to seven days – due to customers flicking through the records. However, as he explained, half of his stock is stored in a storage unit which has not been accessed in two months while the other half, most of which is in sealed plastic boxes, is kept in the shop’s stock room which is not accessible to the public. He now plans to sell his records online.

The Ten Best Music Livestreams to Catch This Week: As social distancing rapidly becomes standard practice in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, musicians and their fans have been reeling from the unprecedented wave of event cancellations that have swept the world. Last weekend marked the beginning of an undefined period when music lovers will be holed up at home and itching for their much-needed fix of communal live energy from their favorite artists. And in the absence of venues to descend upon or dance floors to tear up, the internet has become the cultural watering hole of the moment as bands and DJs migrate their concert experiences online to stream performances in real time.

Brantford, ON | COVID-19: Closed or not, local record, comic, bookshops still selling: It’s new-issue day at Happy Harbour Comics, weekly Wednesday when the comic-book collectors push though, grabbing the latest-release of Wonder Woman, Star Wars or a new horror-manga graphic novel. At the back tables, the ever-present gamers clash amid the miniature Warhammer ruins, store dog Hobbes weinering around the aisles, hoping to smell a new hand with a scratch attached. But given the COVID-19 pandemic, the downtown shop also known as Wonderland, elected Monday to close its doors to the public until further notice, in part, as manager Andrew Foley notes, because “half the staff has some kind of immune-compromised system. “Partly it’s me being paranoid,” he says, alone in the store with half the lights off. “We have a large gaming contingent and what I was coming to understand is that if you give them a space to play, they will come and play.” Foley didn’t want to take that risk. “Looking at what’s happening, especially in Italy and in the States, I just didn’t want it on my conscience.”

Isolation ideas: How to start building a record or CD collection: The nightclubs are closed. The concert halls are shuttered. The folks who put down their hats and pick up their guitars at subway platforms are staying home. Don’t worry. This practice of self-isolation and staying out of crowds is temporary, but in these uncertain times, we could all use a bit of music for the soul. Sure, there’s all sorts of it on radio, but aside from adventurous programming on college stations, music that’s broadcast is limited in scope to what management thinks goes best with their commercials or it stays within strict, formatted guidelines. But if we’re going to depend on music to relax us, excite us, make us forget the world and its problems, we should be able to hear what we want to hear when we want to hear it. The days of most people having vast record collections at home, from which they could pick out whatever happened to fit their mood, are long gone. But it’s never too late to start assembling one.

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