In rotation: 9/14/20

Vinyl Sales Top CDs For The First Time Since 1986: The Recording Industry Association of America just released its report on the first half of 2020, and as Bloomberg points out, it contains a hell of a stat: For the first time since 1986, vinyl records are outselling CDs. According to the RIAA’s report, vinyl sales accounted for $232.1 million in the first six months of the year, compared to only $129.9 in CD sales. The latter total represents a 48% decline, perhaps due to people staying home during the ongoing pandemic. Presumably for related reasons, physical sales are down overall by 23%. However, as Billboard points out, the first of several Record Store Day “drops” recently resulted in the biggest vinyl sales week of the year, with 802,000 records sold in the week ending Sept. 3, so perhaps with some COVID restrictions lifted, physical media is bouncing back slightly in the second half of 2020.

U.S. Vinyl Album Sales Hit Biggest Week in 2020 After First Record Store Day Drop: Plus: Industry album sales up 26% for the week, physical album sales at indie stores see largest week in over a year & Billie Eilish’s “Live at Third Man Records” leads Record Store Day sales parade. Thanks to Record Store Day 2020’s first drop on Aug. 29, U.S. vinyl album sales surged to a new weekly high in 2020, as 802,000 copies were sold in the week ending Sept. 3, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. That’s a 63% increase compared to the previous week’s sales. That 802,000 haul is also the largest week for vinyl album sales since the week ending Dec. 26, 2019, when 1.243 million copies were sold. Further, the 802,000 sum is the biggest week for vinyl albums outside of the Christmas shopping season since the week ending April 18, 2019, when 848,000 were sold. That week included Record Store Day 2019 festivities. …The biggest-selling album at indie and small chain record stores in the week ending Sept. 3 – as reflected on the weekly Tastemakers albums chart (dated Sept. 12) – was Billie Eilish’s Record Store Day release Live at Third Man Records, with 13,000 copies sold.

UK | Record Store Day co-ordinator Megan Page reflects on the success of RSD 2020 Pt.1: Record Store Day co-ordinator Megan Page has told Music Week that the first installment of RSD UK 2020 “exceeded the majority of stores’ expectations”. After the original April 18 date was pushed back to June 20 due to Covid-19, it was elected that the revised 2020 edition would be split over three dates: August 29, September 26 and October 24. The first RSD Drop took place on August 29 with more than 200 participating indie record shops. In a one-off move for 2020, indie record stores put remaining product online at 6pm – an official press release stated that “many releases sold out across the UK within the hour.” Using OCC data, Music Week can confirm that despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19, Record Store Day saw week-on-week vinyl units soar, with total vinyl sales up 113% from 78,957 in week 35 to 167,890 in week 36. Within this, total vinyl album sales increased by 85% (75,532 vs 139,886), while the total vinyl singles sales grew a staggering 718% (3,425 vs 28,004).

Dundee, UK | Legendary Dundee record store Groucho’s officially closes as stock cleared from shop: A removal van has been spotted at the Nethergate shop today, clearing the records and other stock. The goods are being moved into storage and will be sold at auction at a later date. The shop was founded in 1976 by Alastair ‘Breeks’ Brodie, who died last year. His widow Stella then took over responsibility for the store. It is understood some of the staff are setting up a new business on Union Street named Thirteen Records. Concerns were previously raised that the music haven would close down when it did not reopen despite lockdown restrictions being lifted on much of the retail sector. A family source has now confirmed the business is shutting down, marking an end of a decades’ long Dundee institution. Groucho’s had faced closure for a time in late 2018 after the landlord announced his intention to sell the premises.

Madison, WI | Strictly Discs in Wisconsin, in a Pandemic: ‘There Seem to be Improvements’ in USPS Delivery Times: Owner Angie Roloff also discusses why last month’s Record Store Day felt like ‘a victory.’ In October 1988, Angie Roloff and her husband Ron opened Strictly Discs in Madison, Wisconsin, after Ron left a career in the biomedical research field to pursue his love of music full time. Nearly 31 years later, the couple made the difficult decision to shutter in-store operations due to COVID-19, roughly a week before Governor Tony Evers forced a mandatory shutdown of all non-essential businesses. Now that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has overturned Evers’ stay-at-home order — ruling it “unlawful” and “unenforceable” — the Roloffs and their employees have reopened the store. As part of Billboard’s efforts to best cover the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on the music industry, we will be speaking with Roloff regularly to chronicle her experience throughout the crisis.

Ann Arbor, MI | Underground Sounds moving to Main Street in Ann Arbor: Vinyl fans don’t need to worry if they see Underground Sounds’ current storefront vacant later this year — the record store is moving to Main Street, owner Matt Bradish said. Underground Sounds, 255 E. Liberty St., will move to 210 S. Main St. on Oct. 1, Bradish said. The move comes, he said, because the lease on on the Liberty Street location ended and he wanted more space for customers to shop. The new spot, which housed The Peaceable Kingdom until its closure in 2017, is about two and a half times bigger than the current space, Bradish said. He expects up to 10 customers can fit in the store at a time instead of four. “Its the perfect fit for us,” he said. The Liberty Street location will remain in operation until Record Store Day, an organized special event day for independent record stores to sell limited edition products, on Saturday, Sept. 26. Then staff will move the remaining inventory to the new location, Bradish said.

Knoxville, TN | Basement Records closes after wreck, destroying “major amount” of inventory: The South Knoxville record store has been in business for 25 years, according to its website. For one record store in South Knoxville, 2020 has been like a broken record of bad news. After a wreck at Basement Records, officials said they were closing the business Wednesday. They also said that they are not sure how long they will remain closed, according to a post on the record store’s Facebook page. Pictures on the post show a broken section of the store’s wall as well as broken crates and tables littered across the floor. Officials also said the wreck destroyed a major amount of the store’s inventory. The store has been open for 25 years, according to its website, and fell under new ownership in 2012. They sold vintage records, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, video games, classic magazines and laser discs.

UK | ‘The rug can be pulled any time’ – how indie music has adapted during Covid: …Phil Barton, who manages the Sister Ray shop in central London, says they had a “brilliant” Record Store Day last month. They shifted most of their stock via a mixture of in-store and online sales, which he says was “a shot in the arm” after “a really bad six months.” He thinks smaller record shops can help themselves by having an online presence. He’d also like to see some external help so they can continue to enable people to “make contacts, exchange ideas” and discover their own Arlo Parks, next year and beyond. “I think record stores should come under the same sorts of banner as live venues, and they should be treated as a sort of cultural necessity,” states Barton. “If we are to save as many record shops as we can, then maybe we should make it very difficult to close them down.”

Chicago, IL | Chicago Ray Records Opens In Rogers Park, Offering Vintage Vinyl And Tie-Dye Tees: Chicago Ray Records is Ray Pate’s second record store. He previously owed RPM Music in North Center. Ray Pate has brought his love for music to his home neighborhood of Rogers Park. Chicago Ray Records opened Aug. 1 at 7051 N. Clark St., offering vinyl records from a wide variety of genres and eras. The collection might be familiar to some North Side record crate diggers. Pate previously owned RPM Music at 1839 W. Irving Park Road in North Center, which was in business 2016-2018. A dispute with the landlord forced RPM to close, but it gave Pate the opportunity to open a store in a neighborhood he knows well. “The plan was to always open again and move into Rogers Park because it’s needed here,” Pate said. “People who buy records are moving here. Rents are going up and they can find a deal here.” Chicago Ray Records is still a work in progress, but he has a highly curated collection of classic rock, mid-century crooners and new vinyl records. He is still adding to the store.

San Francisco, CA | Amoeba Music To Reopen Its San Francisco Store: Amoeba Music, the independent record store, will reopen its location in San Francisco on September 17 after almost five months of shutting it down due to coronavirus restrictions. Amoeba Musica opened their first store in 1990 in Berkeley, and after being successful, the owners David Prinz and Marc Weinstein decided to open two more locations. One in San Francisco in 1997 and one in Hollywood in 2001. Amoeba is known mostly for selling music records and movies, as well as for hosting live music events with artists such as Brian Wilson and Sir Paul McCartney. Their stores have been closed for almost five months because of public health orders in California regarding coronavirus, and they have been operating with online orders. However, an announcement released by the store on September 9 said they were reopening their location in San Francisco because they feel that COVID-19 cases in the city have improved. According to the announcement, Amoeba San Francisco will follow health guidelines including asking customers to wear face coverings, to follow physical distancing rules and to use hand sanitizer before entering the store. There will also be hand sanitizers stations and gloves around the establishment available for clients.

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