In rotation: 8/24/20

Wilmington, NC | Records on the Rise: Americans are dropping the needle at the highest rate in decades. For the first time since 1986, vinyl records have outsold CDs, and are only second the streaming music. But because of the pandemic, one local small business has had to find unconventional methods to keep going. The Record Bar opened in late December, but due to Covid 19, had to shut its doors a few months later. Since then its held curbside sales, delivered records to customers’ doors, and had Facebook live auctions. Though many small businesses are suffering right now, the Record Bar found a way to adapt their operations to the circumstances. “So we, I don’t want to use the word survived,” says the store’s owner, Tony Stroud. “We just kind of powered through it.” Next Saturday is National Record Store Day, a day when customers can visit their local vinyl shop for bargains and rare finds. This year, the Record Bar has 231 titles mass merchandisers don’t have access to. With record sales only second to platforms like Spotify and ITunes, it’s obvious vinyl has made a comeback.

Brighton and Hove, UK | Record Store Day going ahead from Saturday 29th August: Record Store Day will now thankfully be going ahead with staggered releases from Saturday 29th August. The annual event was originally due to take place on Saturday 18th April this year and was then moved to Saturday 20th June instead, as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. The organisers have now opted for a 3 day event for 2020, with other two dates being 26th September and 24th October. Record Store Day is when over 200 independent record shops all across the UK come together to celebrate their unique culture. Special vinyl releases are made exclusively for the relevant day and many shops and cities host artist performances and events to mark the occasion. Thousands more shops celebrate the day around the globe in what’s become one of the biggest annual events on the music calendar. Many Brighton and Hove vinyl collectors have eagerly been awaiting the chance to snap up a host of exciting limited edition vinyl releases for this special occasion.

Racine, WI | Business Spotlight: Time and Again Music and More: Time and Again Music and More is the Racine County Eye Business Spotlight of the week. Sturtevant Wisconsin may be small, but the music collection at this store is large. Southeast Wisconsin’s most unique vinyl record store is just moments from your doorstep. Yet, so many music lovers don’t know this local spot. Time & Again Music and More, 9602 Durand Ave, is full of great finds. Ray and Marianne Zirkle have a love for vinyl and other collectables. It’s why they are sharing their business with you. “We’ve had vinyl in our blood since we were kids and opening a store like this has been a dream” explained the owners. Now their dream is a reality. A particularly unusual selection from Time and Again Music and More can take you back to your favorite times. A blast from the past experience for all. 60’s, 70’s, and a touch of the 80’s records are within the store. Listening to The Beatles Greatest Hits on vinyl can start making you feel nostalgic. Maybe you are a fan of John Mellencamp. If that’s the case, they’ve got you covered.

Dundee, UK | Tayside shops get in the groove as Record Store Day returns with a difference due to coronavirus: Not many things in life are worth a nine-hour wait but some vinyl enthusiasts are happy to queue through the night for the chance to buy limited edition releases. Two years ago the quest for rare records caused one man to catch a train from Inverness to Perth and then start a queue at 11pm the night before Concorde Music in the Fair City opened. Last year the queue started at a more reasonable time – midnight – a mere eight hours before the shop opened. Record Store Day is the most important 24 hours of the year for independent music shops and has been credited for the resurgence in the vinyl format. Usually held in April, Covid-19 pressed the pause button on this year’s event. With retailers open again, this year’s music celebration will be held over three Saturdays in August, September and October. Garry Smith, who owns Concorde in Perth with his wife Hazel, said last year’s queue had around 100 people at opening. He expects customers to keep two metres apart in a queue that will snake around a nearby car park when the event returns on August 29.

Melbourne, AU | Record Store Recs: Willaris. K Finds The Experimental Beats In Melbourne: With the unprecedented global disruption of 2020, it’s important to support the music community however we can. With our series Record Store Recs, checks in with vinyl-loving artists to learn more about their favorite record stores and the gems they’ve found there. Australian ambient house/techno DJ/producer Willaris. K (born Jack McAllister) has a sound that is ever-morphing and hard to define, but is firmly planted in the electronic underground. With his unrelenting four-track EP Full Noise, dropped in July on dance giant Astralwerks, he brought a speaker-rattling warehouse party straight to our living rooms. The banger was already his second EP of 2020, preceded by LUSTRE, a moody six-track journey moving through deep house, ambient, experimental electronica and more. Both come just two years since he made waves in the Melbourne electronic scene and beyond with his 2018 debut album, Alchemy. …For the latest Record Store Recs, McAllister gives us a look into some of the alternative electronic/ambient music that inspires him to produce, as well as some great spots to find these sorts of records in his home of Melbourne.

Taylor Swift surprises independent record stores by shipping signed ‘Folklore’ CDs: Demand for the limited number of signed CDs was, unsurprisingly, extremely high. Taylor Swift surprised a number of independent record stores in the US yesterday (August 20) by shipping them signed CD copies of her recent album ‘Folklore.’ Released last month, ‘Folklore’ features collaborations with Bon Iver and The National‘s Aaron Dessner and last week enjoyed a third consecutive week at the top of the UK albums chart. A number of independent record stores in the US reported receiving limited shipments of ‘Folklore’ CDs yesterday, all of which had been signed by Swift herself. As Variety reports, the stores that received the limited stock of signed CDs were said to have paid normal wholesale price, and most if not all of the retailers then sold them on to fans and customers at a regular price.

Matthews, NC | Noble Records builds YouTube following: Noble Records owner Dillon Smith uses social media to bring vinyl record buying to a new generation and reintroduce it to older ones. “There is something about going to a record store and the community behind it,” Smith said. “I know people who met at my record store and are now good friends. It’s like going to play golf or a bar or a church. They want to have a community. They can come in here and talk to people who are like-minded.” Smith’s passion for vinyl began by visiting flea markets, thrift shops and yard sales while growing up in Cabarrus County. Guitar gods like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn were early purchases, but as his taste grew so did his albums. Smith estimates his collection to be around 3,000 records. “An album can be aesthetically pleasing,” Smith said. “The sound it has and the way the album covers look. It’s something you can hold and look at.” He bought and sold albums online at first, but owning a store was a dream he had since childhood. The chance came a few years ago by opening Noble Records in Matthews. The brick and mortar shop displays a variety of albums that range from the widely known to the obscure.

Indianapolis, IN | Exploring the world of custom vinyl production with Chris Banta of Romanus Records: The Franklin native is responsible for crafting some of the world’s most unique vinyl records. Franklin native Chris Banta has a passion for making cool-ass vinyl records. “There are a lot of these reality shows like Boat Brothers, where they’re like, ‘We contacted Shaq, and he needed the sickest boat,’” says Banta, who is also the frontman of Indy rock ‘n’ roll band Brother O’ Brother. “I was like, ‘Why can’t there be somebody like that for the most insane records?’ I really want to be that person.” After learning the ins and outs of custom vinyl from running his own record label, Banta decided to completely dive into the business less than a year ago with the creation of his own company, Romanus Custom Vinyl and Manufacturing. Now a go-to figure in the global custom vinyl market, Banta is fulfilling orders for large-scale record labels, creating things like liquid-filled records, glow-in-the-dark records and much more. Having watched his success from afar, our Seth Johnson caught up with Banta for a interview, discussing his path to becoming a custom vinyl master.

Hulu Canceling High Fidelity Was a Huge Mistake — Here’s Why: Breakups suck — a sentiment that I found myself face to face with upon hearing the news about Hulu’s decision to cancel High Fidelity. I’ll admit, when I first heard that Hulu had decided to revive the intellectual property for a series, I wasn’t completely thrilled. Unpopular opinion: I wasn’t head over heels for the John Cusack film, and I never read Nick Hornby’s book. Once I saw Zoë Kravitz and Da’Vine Joy Randolph were part of the lineup, dread quickly turned into anticipation. Hulu’s reimagining of High Fidelity follows Rob (Kravitz), a record-store owner still reeling after a traumatic breakup with her ex-fiancé. Wondering if there’s something wrong with her, she hunts down her exes in search of answers. Each episode is accompanied by a killer soundtrack to guide us through the narrative while providing insight into its characters. But this Rob isn’t the basic white boy from the previous iterations; she’s a messy, beautiful, bisexual Black woman. After one season, execs at Hulu decided to cancel the series, thereby forcing me to add it to my desert island All-Time Top Five Most Memorable Heartbreaks of television. It remains unclear as to why, in an era that’s in dire need of a culture shift, Hulu would cancel a critically acclaimed series that includes several diverse characters as leads.

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