In rotation: 8/5/20

Phoenix, AZ | Six Phoenix Record Shops Talk Business Amid COVID: As a rule, the music industry is subject to regular upheaval. But after threats like streaming music and economic downturn, the one posed by COVID-19 has proven especially challenging. So, how have record stores weathered the storm and found ways to keep music essential as consumers weight every single purchase? Well, we asked around, and what follows is some essential insight into what stores are selling, how they’re doing financially, and what lessons COVID has taught retailers. …Our sales remained pretty consistent. They went down a little during the week, but we’re in the summertime now and that’s expected. But then they more than make up for it during the weekend. Once we opened back up, it was like, okay, we went right back to normal. Yeah, you’ve got to wear a mask, but it was still the same old stuff. We saw a lot of cheap, mostly $1 to $3 records being sold. Again, mostly cheap classics.”

Sarnia, CA | Record Store Day adjusting to pandemic: The owners of Sarnia’s Cheeky Monkey record shop hope the third time is the charm for this year’s Record Store Day. The annual day celebrating independent record stories has already been postponed twice this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, so the current plan calls for the event to be held on three Saturdays spread over three months. Normally, the event’s release of hundreds of special-edition – and mostly vinyl – music releases happens on a single day but, this year, will be spread over Aug. 29, Sept. 26 and Oct. 24 to reduce crowds and lineups that make physical distancing a challenge. Roland Peloza, who owns the downtown Sarnia record store with his wife, Mary Anne Peloza, said Cheeky Monkey has been part of Record Store Day since it began in 2008. “This is the first one that is in pandemic mode,” he said. Most of the hundreds of releases had already been manufactured by the record companies by the time the pandemic and its restrictions arrived in North America, Peloza said.

Melbourne, AU | A comprehensive list of Melbourne record stores you can support this lockdown: From head to toe, here are all the local record stores you can support during lockdown. It’s been a thrill checking in with Melbourne’s record stores as they navigate these peculiar times. Many of these businesses flaunt age-old, tried and tested business techniques that capitalise on relationships and loyalty. Greville Records owner Warwick Brown has enjoyed delivering vinyl door-to-door as a way of evading the postal gridlock while also catching up with his customers, many of whom he regards as friends rather than shoppers. Suzanne Bennett from CBD record store, The Basement Discs, has been similarly creative during the crisis, gazing laterally to online sales, social media and email newsletters as ways of communicating with their record-lovers. While for Dutch Vinyl’s Mark Reuten, online sales have taken a jump as the Dutch expat made a swift transition once the regular stream of punters were cut off from his store.

Nashville, TN | Egon Alapatt, BA’00, offers tips on how to collect vinyl records: Eothen “Egon” Alapatt, BA’00, discovered his career path when studying at Vanderbilt, working as a DJ at the WRVU radio station, and promoting local hip-hop shows. “When I realized that reissuing and licensing of music, and procuring music for samples for hip-hop producers, could be a profession, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.” The term “vinyl enthusiast” doesn’t do justice to Alapatt’s work. He has released dozens of new and almost-lost-to-history singles and albums through Now Again Records, launched in 2002 while he was general manager for the influential independent hip-hop label Stones Throw Records. More releases come through the Madlib Invazion label, a partnership with rapper Madlib and the vaults of the late J. Dilla, a wildly influential hip-hop producer. Rappcats is the online and brick-and-mortar hub for Alapatt’s output. But the Now Again releases, ranging from the 1970 Dallas Pop Festival to Vietnam-era funk music from Florida, most closely resemble Alapatt’s passion for unearthing gems.

Asheville, NC | Gar Ragland Discussing Reinventing Asheville Music Scene, Opening ‘Citizen Vinyl’: …In the heart of the downtown district is a grand, three-story art moderne building that previously served both the Asheville Citizen and Asheville Times newspapers and WWNC. The radio station, “Wonderful Western North Carolina,” began in 1927, welcoming the “Father of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers, on stage that same year. Over the next decade, regional music traditions spread down with their purveyors as they fled Appalachia in masses, seeking work in larger cities. Bill Monroe made his debut on the third floor of the building in 1939, introducing the world to a new sound he popularized as “Bluegrass.” CEO and music industry veteran, Gar Ragland, announced the revitalization of this iconic space this month, unveiling its new identity: Citizen Vinyl. The historic site will serve as a boutique vinyl pressing plant, record store, and locally-focused bar and cafe. Citizen Vinyl is proud to become North Carolina’s first record pressing plant, though its mission extends past superior manufacturing.

Miami, FL | Yesterday & Today Records Adjusts to the “New Normal” Evan Chern, the owner of Miami’s oldest record store, Yesterday & Today Records, was in Alabama during the initial peak of COVID-19 lockdown. When Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez deemed retail spaces nonessential, there was no choice but to close. Chern opted to leave town with his family to visit his stepson and relax for a few weeks but soon came back to Florida on his own to tend the shop. Founded in 1981 by Richard Ulloa, Yesterday & Today had four locations at its peak: three in Miami-Dade and one in Gainesville. Over the decades, the record store built its reputation on its expansive selection and Chern’s in-depth knowledge of music. Chern, a radio DJ at WDNA, became business partners with Ulloa in the mid-’90, with Chern eventually taking full ownership of the store in 1998. Since then, he’s continued to be a friendly face for new customers and regulars alike.

Andover Audio Introduces Spindeck Turntable Aimed at Vinyl Newbies and Aficionados Alike: …Spindeck ($299) offers users of all backgrounds a plug-and-play turntable right out of the box. Featuring high-quality materials and precision-engineered parts, Spindeck is the perfect vinyl-playing addition to Andover’s Spinbase Turntable Speaker System, or any audio system. Spindeck simplifies turntable setup with a tonearm featuring a pre-set counterweight and pre-mounted Ortofon Custom OM Series cartridge. The main chassis of the turntable is made from engineered particle board, which is sturdy yet light weight. Housed underneath the chassis is an ultra-quiet synchronous motor with a silicone belt that drives a low-resonance platter made from MDF. An AC-powered motor control effectively minimizes unwanted vibration. The main platter bearing consists of a stainless-steel spindle and a bronze bushing with a Teflon bottom, to ensure long-lasting playback.

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