Category Archives: A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/20/21

Pittsburgh, PA | Netflix’s ‘Archive 81’ filming in North Side and Downtown Pittsburgh: In November, a random group of visitors walked into The Government Center, an independent record store on Pittsburgh’s North Side, with no interest in making a purchase. “They came in to search out specific locations,” said owner Josh Cozby, referring to film scouts for Netflix’s production company, looking for spaces to shoot a horror series, “Archive 81.” According to Netflix, when archivist Dan Turner takes a mysterious job restoring a collection of damaged videotapes from 1994, he finds himself reconstructing the work of documentary filmmaker Melody Pendras and her investigation into a dangerous cult. …He said the plan was to have the shop look like a record store in the 1990s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. They set up some tables outside and used record bins and hung old posters from that era in the windows.

New York, NY | Rough Trade NYC Record Store and Concert Venue to Relocate: In sad news for music lovers, Rough Trade NYC will close its Williamsburg location in the spring and will relocate to another, yet-to-be announced city location in the summer. During the intervening months, Rough Trade’s online record store, www.roughtrade.com, will continue to serve patrons with its emphasis on pre-orders, weekly new releases, exclusive editions and sale back catalogue. The current NYC store – a 10,000 square foot ex-warehouse building located between Kent and Wythe on North 9th Street – was converted by Rough Trade using over a dozen shipping containers, creating a giant record store with intimate venue space, opening late 2013 in response to the growing deficit of record stores in the city. With the store relocation, Rough Trade NYC’s concert venue, operated in partnership with The Bowery Presents, will not re-open in its current location. As a concert venue, Rough Trade NYC opened with two nights of the band Television in 2013 and has since produced hundreds of events annually.

Grand Junction, CO | Triple Play Records helps save Mesa Theater: Independent venues are among the industries hit hardest by the ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 has cancelled concert after concert, ultimately shutting the doors to all performances for months. Locally, Mesa Theater has been facing these financial hardships. Rick Christensen, Mesa Theater manager, says, “we’ve just been spending more than we’ve ever been making.” Previously the venue received a grant from the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, as well as money from the Paycheck Protection Program. However, the federal funding fell short as Mesa Theater had to pay employees, the mortgage, and other expenses. Still, the manager is optimistic there is a light at the end of the tunnel. …In the meantime, Mesa Theater’s neighbor, Triple Play Records, is lending a helping hand. The record store donated racks of vinyls to the theater, and all profits go towards “saving the stage.” Matthew Cesarrio, Triple Play Records manager, says, “we had a really good year. The community came out and helped us in 2020, while the Mesa Theater didn’t have that option. We see it as a huge thing to give back to them because without the Mesa Theater we can’t see live music.”

Iowa City, IA | Furniture, vinyl, watches and paintings: Inside Ulysses Modern, Iowa City’s newest vintage shop: Ryan Quinn attended auctions and scoured thrift stores and junkyards for car parts with his family as a kid. In his teen years, he started searching on his own for punk rock albums from artists like The Clash. These days, he travels thousands of miles a month in his minivan, hunting down art, watches, vintage denim, mid-century modern furniture or anything else that catches his eye in a process he calls “picking.” “I started getting interested in mid-century modern 12, 13 years ago, really just by chance,” Quinn said. “I’d been a record and vinyl collector and I was out all the time looking for records.” His interest led him to open a store in Cedar Rapids called First Class Finds, with Dave Owens. That first business venture didn’t work out, but Ryan ended up working with Owens again for two years at Mad Modern.

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In rotation: 1/19/21

Santa Maria, CA | Why is vinyl so popular among indie artists? …You might think, given that vinyl records are quite expensive, that only big artists like Fleetwood Mac (who have the most number of records sold today), Beyonce, and Harry Styles are releasing music on vinyl records. Wrong! Even the new indie acts are releasing vinyl records too. One example is Ty Segall, an American multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and record producer. They keep pressing vinyl records for their releases. In an interview with Fast Company, they said they sell more from vinyl than from CDs. “We sell significantly less CDs than records at shows,” says Emily Epstein, who drums in the band. “Sometimes we’ll only sell one or two CDs a night. Records are still always king in terms of what people want at our merch table.” When asked why they think this is so, they agreed that it’s because of the user experience.

Winchester, VA | It’s yesterday once more as vinyl album sales surge: Celina Loving drove more than an hour from her home in Harrisonburg to check out the music being sold at the Ear Food record store on Weems Lane in Winchester. “I do love The Bee Gees,” Loving said with a smile as she happened upon a copy of the 1980 album “After Dark” by the music-making family’s youngest member, Andy Gibb. The 23-year-old Loving said she inherited a passion for music from her parents, who compiled a major collection of vinyl records before she had even been born. “I grew up going to Rush, REO Speedwagon, Def Leppard concerts with my dad,” Loving said. “My mom brought a love of ’60s music into my life.” Most young adults today buy music on CD or download it from online services like Apple’s iTunes and Google’s Play — assuming, that is, if they buy it at all. Free and subscription-based online music services allow listeners to stream any song they want, any hour of the day or night. …”I’m an old soul,” Loving said about her love of vinyl. “I’m off today and this is what I love to do, so I’m treating myself.”

Waukesha, WI | Lawyer opens Nostalgia Music & More in Waukesha: A lawyer is bringing his favorite nostalgic pastimes to downtown Waukesha, with a buy, sell and trade business featuring video games, records and his favorite niche — vinyl video game soundtracks. Stephen Howitz officially opened the doors to his shop Nostalgia Music and More, 321 W. Main St., on Jan. 5. “I’m actually a lawyer by day,” he said. “When you tell people that you’re a lawyer and you’re going to open a record store, they usually think you’re drunk … I do law in the morning and in the afternoons I’m here. I do it on nights and weekends too.” The business also has two arcade games which are available for the public to play for free, as Howitz said he’s trying to attract people to hang out at the business as well. “It’s a mix of new or used vinyl depending on what you’re looking for,” he said. “(It’s) quality, not quantity … and we specialize in video game vinyl, which is weirder and nerdier.”

Bandcamp Vinyl Pressing Service is Here, and It Works: Vinyl sales on Bandcamp are booming: last year, fans bought 2 million LPs through the site, double the year prior. And for the artists and labels who sell vinyl, it now makes up 50% of their overall revenue. Yet only 12% of the albums with sales on Bandcamp in 2020 offered a vinyl version, leaving a large source of potential artist revenue on the table. The primary reasons for this are that producing vinyl is expensive, and therefore risky, and dealing with fulfillment and returns can be incredibly time consuming. So a few years ago, we started work on a service to make it easy for a whole lot more people to start pressing records. In 2019, we began rolling out the Bandcamp Vinyl Pressing Service to a small group of pilot artists. The service eliminates risk, since your fans’ orders—not you—finance the pressing.

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In rotation: 1/15/21

Harry Styles’ ‘Fine Line’ Leads 2020’s Record-Breaking Year for Vinyl Album Sales in U.S. Harry Styles’ Fine Line helped U.S. vinyl album sales achieve yet another banner year — their highest total in 30 years of tracking — as the set closed 2020 as the top-selling vinyl album, according to MRC Data. The set sold 232,000 copies on vinyl during the tracking year (Jan. 3 through Dec. 31, 2020). …Vinyl album sales totaled 27.54 million in 2020, up 46.2% compared to 2019. 2020 marked the 15th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew, and the largest year for vinyl album sales since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991. Vinyl LP sales also saw their best sales week ever in the MRC Data era, when 1.84 million vinyl albums were sold in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020. Vinyl LP sales were the third-biggest-selling album format in 2020, trailing two formats that both declined: CDs (40.12 million; down 26%) and digital albums (34.39 million; down 12.5%).

Rare David Bowie vinyl demo featuring the track Run Piper Run heads to auction: The previously unreleased demo which is backed by Ace Kefford’s Lay Your Head Upon My Shoulder will go under the hammer later this week. A rare slice of David Bowie memorabilia will go under the hammer later this week in the shape of a 7-inch vinyl demo of the previously unreleased track Run Piper Run. The song was recorded in 1967 and is backed by Lay Your Head Upon My Shoulder by The Move co-founder Ace Kefford – a track that would resurface on the 2003 album Ace (The Lost 1968 Tapes). The disc will head to auction on Friday (January 15) at the Wessex Auction Rooms in Chippenham, England, with the online bidding set to get under way at 10.30am BST. The disc is estimated to fetch between £6000 and £8000 and a snippet of Run Piper Run can be listened to below. In July 2020, an unreleased Bowie demo of I Do Believe I Love You sold at the Wessex Auction Rooms for £18,000. The Bowie/Kefford disc will be just one of the vinyl offerings on the day, with a focus particularly on punk rarities and demos.

Black Sabbath announce reissues of classic Dio-fronted albums: Black Sabbath have announced the reissue of their first two albums to feature Ronnie James Dio as frontman, 1980’s Heaven and Hell and 1981’s Mob Rules. Dio officially joined the group in 1979, replacing then-ousted singer Ozzy Osbourne. Teaming with guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward, Dio added a new dynamic layer to the band’s classic sound, resulting in some of the strongest material in the Sabbath catalog. Heaven and Hell marked his triumphant debut with the group, delivering such classic tunes as “Neon Knights,” “Die Young” and the title track. Positive reviews and strong sales welcomed the album, and Sabbath soon returned to the studio with Dio to record a follow-up, Mob Rules. The 1981 LP – which also featured the arrival of drummer Vinnie Appice – boasted further classics, including “The Sign of the Southern Cross” and “Turn Up the Night.” In addition to offering both original albums in remastered form, the new editions of Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules feature extensive bonus material.

Saana vinyl record cabinet by Tenho Design: Scandinavian brand Tenho Design has developed its Saana storage unit specifically to house vinyl collections, with doors that allow users to exhibit their favourite record sleeves. Clear displays are integrated into Saana’s wooden frame and can be regularly updated to allow users to showcase their best-loved records and personalise their space. In this way, the design hopes to celebrate the “mind-blowing cover art of vinyl records” that is normally hidden in storage. “Vinyl records have certainly made a comeback. But where to store these precious black things? That was the question that needed a reasonable answer,” explained Tenho Design. “We want to emphasize the often mind-blowing cover art of vinyl records. Having a look at the sleeves and covers is a big part of the vinyl hobby,” the brand continued. “By changing sleeves in our cabinet every now and then, you can put on a pop art exhibition of your own.”

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In rotation: 1/14/21

Toronto, CA | Toronto’s Shortstack Records held a record sale in a Walmart parking lot: With most local businesses locked down, they pointedly went where the customers are: a big-box store. Shortstack Records can’t have people come to them, so it went to where there are customers: Walmart. This past Sunday morning (January 10), Toronto record store Shortstack set up outside of the Walmart at Dufferin Mall for a one-hour guerrilla pop-up record sale. They just parked a hatchback filled with record crates in the parking lot and opened it up for people to flip through. As Ontario’s lockdown has dragged on with COVID cases still rising, many local businesses have spoken up about who’s allowed to open and who’s not. While businesses that don’t sell “essential” items like groceries are relegated to curbside and delivery service, big box stores like Walmart have been allowed to stay open. Even with the new restrictions announced today (January 12), big-box stores are held to different rules (though they will apparently face stricter regulation enforcement). “Why Walmart?” Shortstack owner Cal MacLean wrote in the store’s newsletter announcing the pop-up the day before the event.

Vancouver, CA | Vancouver’s oldest independent record store marks 40 years of selling more than top 40: Neptoon Records opened on the city’s east side in 1981. Rob Frith had never before worked in retail when B.C.’s construction industry took a nosedive in the early ’80s and he decided to take a chance selling vinyl to Vancouverites — a bold move considering cassette tapes were all the rage and CDs were on the precipice of popularity. Fast-forward to 2021, and the founder of Neptoon Records is celebrating the 40th spin around the sun of what has become a beloved father-son business well-frequented by locals and tourists alike. The shop, located at 3561 Main St. on the city’s east side, is Vancouver’s oldest independent record store and is run now by Rob and his son Ben Frith. Turns out Rob Frith, who had only hawked albums at swap meets before opening Neptoon’s original location on Fraser Street in Jan. 1981, was pretty good at the retail thing. “I really needed a job,” he told CBC’s The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn with a chuckle.

Denver, CO | Color Red Goes Global and Opens a Vinyl Cafe in Denver: Although guitarist Eddie Roberts wasn’t able to tour last year with his group the New Mastersounds because of the pandemic, he’s been busy expanding Color Red, the Denver-based label he founded in 2018. Over the past year, Color Red has launched branches in Japan and France, released music from acts around the world, started the Roberts-curated vinyl club Rare Sounds, and also has a hand in the Larimer Records Cafe, set to open in Larimer Square on January 20. Since most members of Color Red’s team are musicians, who weren’t gigging because of COVID-19, they were able to ramp up things at the label. Over the first years of Color Red, part of the vision of the imprint was to release a digital single, Roberts says, but at times in 2020, Color Red released five singles a week. “Luckily, we recorded so much music before the lockdown for bands touring through that we still had plenty of content and plenty of stuff that needed mixing and getting out to the world,” he notes.

Hollywood, CA | Capitol Studios Shutters Its Mastering Division: The most visible face of Capitol Studios, 30-year veteran Paula Salvatore, a VP, is also described as taking on on a different, as-yet unrevealed role. The mastering department at the famed Capitol Studios in Hollywood has been shut down, with several employees laid off, Universal Music Group confirmed Tuesday night after word of the closure began to circulate on social media. The recording studios themselves, a tourist site as well as magnet for top recording artists since opening in 1956, will remain open. But Capitol Studios’ mastering rooms, which were nearly as venerated by engineers and producers, will not, as those spaces will be converted into recording studios — presumably much smaller ones than Studio A, where Frank Sinatra used to record with a full orchestra. Said a Universal Music Group spokesperson: “At Capitol Studios, while demand for recording studios remains high, there has been an overall decline in requests for mastering services — to the point where we have decided to close Capitol’s mastering facility and focus on other areas of the recording process that are in higher demand by artists, including using the space to build additional recording suites.”

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In rotation: 1/13/21

Dublin, IE | Boutique coffee and record store opening on the northside later this month: Wavetable is a new speciality coffee and record store opening in Drumcondra later this month. New coffee spots have been popping up all around Dublin in recent months and another one is about to add its name to the list, with Wavetable – Ireland’s first boutique specialty coffee and record store – due to open over on the northside later this month. A venture born out of a shared love for music and coffee, the new spot draws inspiration from minimalist, Nordic design and will offer customers a space where they can enjoy both at the same time. Serving up a range of specialty coffees, they’ll also have plenty of delicious vegan cakes and groovy records to help keep you on the straight and narrow. Oh, and they’re pet-friendly too. So, win-win-win. Starting out with takeaway service only, owners are hopeful they’ll be able to welcome customers inside as soon as restrictions allow.

London, UK | New book celebrates London’s best-loved record stores: London’s Record Shops is a new book celebrating physical music stores in the English capital. The 128 page book is a collaboration between writer Garth Cartwright and photographer Quintina Valero and is set to be published by The History Press Ltd on April 1. Although the specific record shops included has not yet revealed, the publisher’s synopsis notes: “From Brixton dub shacks to Hackney vinyl boutiques, Camden’s rockabilly ravers to Southall’s last Bollywood shop, underground Peckham outlets to Soho’s legendary dance music hub, these brilliantly eccentric and engaging emporiums are documented with striking photographs and incisive interviews.”

Barrie, ON | Entrepreneurs rewind the tape on music mediums: Barrie duo launches Tarantula Tapes as a way for bands to get their music out to the masses; ‘It’s almost like what happened with vinyl 10 or 15 years ago is now happening with cassettes’ They’re back! Or maybe they never even really left. For almost 60 years, cassette tapes have been one of the formats music fans — and musicians — have used to hear their favourite tunes. Now a Barrie company is helping punk bands — who may or may not have had their music previously released on CDs and/or vinyl — spread the word about their music in a format invented the same year Ringo Starr joined The Beatles. Tarantula Tapes, a cassette tape-only record label that started up near the end of summer 2020, is the brainchild of Casey Cuff and partner Core (pronounced Kor-Ree) Bee. While they both work full-time, they are also musicians and recent events over the last 10 months (Hmmm, what could that be?) and some extra spare time helped spawn the idea of creating cassettes for their fellow punk musicians.

50th anniversary of Janis Joplin’s ‘Pearl’ album to be celebrated with vinyl reissues, other special releases: Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Janis Joplin’s posthumous final studio album, Pearl. To commemorate the milestone, a series of special releases are planned for 2021, included a limited-edition colored-vinyl reissue that’s due out in April. The Pearl reissue, which will be pressed on pearl-white vinyl, can be pre-ordered now from the Vinyl Me, Please record club. In addition, a high-fidelity 180-gram two-LP box set reissue of Pearl, mastered from the original tapes and cut at 45 r.p.m., will be released in July as part of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s “UltraDisc One-Step” series. You can pre-order that now, too. Pearl was released about three months after Joplin’s October 1970 death from a heroin overdose and spent nine consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 in early ’71. The album features Janis’ chart-topping cover of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” as well as such other classic tunes as “Mercedes Benz,” “Move Over” and “Cry Baby.”

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In rotation: 1/12/21

‘Spending more on home entertainment’: Vinyl sales skyrocket thanks to COVID-19 pandemic: The record renaissance has gone from niche novelty to record-breaking sales thanks, partly, to the global pandemic. Vinyl purchases in the United States have eclipsed those of compact discs for the first time in over 30 years, with local sales echoing the trend. Apera Te Hemara’s record collection is a story of his life. From the first LP record that he bought in the ’70s, he’s been hooked on the total experience. “Just the action of putting the vinyl onto a turntable, putting the stylus on and hearing all the crackles and pops… I think that’s great,” Te Hemara says. New Zealand’s largest music retailer Real Groovy says for the first time in 40 years, record sales both here and overseas have surpassed those of CDs. “The Christmas week, not the week before, we sold more new vinyl records than we ever have in the history of Real Groovy,” Grant McAllum from Real Groovy says.

Ipswich, UK | From 45s to CDs, which record shops were your favourites over the years? Which was your favourite record shop in Ipswich as a teenager? Long before the days of CDs, let alone streaming and downloads, youngsters across the area saved up their pocket money to buy the latest 45s and albums. Today we’re looking back at some of the most popular music shops Parrot Records, in Queen Street in Ipswich town centre, was the place to browse through endless stacks of LPs back in the 1970s. Top DJ Noel Edmonds carried out the official opening in 1976. Later on the store became Rex Records, and continued to be the town’s best-known independent record shop until it finally closed in 2005, marking the end of an era. The Ipswich branch of Virgin Megastore was another popular place to buy records, and our gallery includes a photo of DJ Bruno Brookes cutting the cake at an official opening in 1986. Another fondly remembered record shop was Andy’s Records, which had branches around the area. In more recent years, vinyl fans have also been able to seek out their favourite music at pop-up shop events in Ipswich Tourist Information Centre, which has now sadly closed.

“Are You Now or Have You Ever Been”… a Side-ist? OK, before we start, a word about the title. The late Scott Campbell, a remarkable musician from Tallahassee, had just released what would be his final recording late in 2016, An Old Photo, that included a great song with that title. But what, you may ask, is a SIDE-IST? Good question. This goes back to the glory days of vinyl (and it is delightful understanding that vinyl has come roaring back), when people often gravitated to one side or the other of a record album. Yes, of course many albums were solid all the way through, but if you “are now” or “have ever been” a vinyl junkie, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Take last night. I was listening to Argus, the third album from Wishbone Ash (1972). I was impatient with the first three songs (on CD or Spotify), waiting to get to Side 2, with “The King Will Come > Leaf and Stream > Warrior > Throw Down the Sword.” Same with Sisyphus from Cold Blood (1970); I rarely listen to Side 2. How about Paul Kantner’s Blows Against the Empire (1970)? Side 1 was fun, but usually we headed straight for “Sunrise”! (You can call it Jefferson Starship if you want.)

Washington, DC | Interview With Cool Kids Vinyl Record Shop Owner “…D.C. needs a space like Cool Kids Vinyl to give all guests the opportunity to not only take in the history of vinyl records, but to experience the pop-culture side of it. Cool Kids Vinyl has a focus on Hip-Hop and we are trying to preserve its essence in the city by allowing people to come in, chat, ask questions and learn from one another in their community. We have that time capsule almost that puts you in that 70s, 80s, 90s realm, where the music can just be appreciated a bit more. In a generation of online streaming, vinyl gives listeners a piece of memorabilia that online streaming doesn’t offer. The listening experience is unmatched, it transforms you back in time and provides more of a listening experience than online streaming. Because vinyl is more tangible than streaming music, we are giving the current generation the opportunity to physically feel the music and connect with it on a more intimate level.”

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In rotation: 1/11/21

For the 15th year in a row, U.S. vinyl album sales increased. Harry Styles’ Fine Line helped U.S. vinyl album sales achieve yet another banner year — their highest total in 30 years of tracking — as the set closed 2020 as the top-selling vinyl album, according to MRC Data. The set sold 232,000 copies on vinyl during the tracking year (Jan. 3 through Dec. 31, 2020). Vinyl album sales totaled 27.54 million in 2020, up 46.2% compared to 2019. 2020 marked the 15th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew, and the largest year for vinyl album sales since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991. Vinyl LP sales also saw their best sales week ever in the MRC Data era, when 1.84 million vinyl albums were sold in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020. Vinyl LP sales were the third-biggest-selling album format in 2020, trailing two formats that both declined: CDs (40.12 million; down 26%) and digital albums (34.39 million; down 12.5%).

Des Moines, IA | Blast from the past: vinyl records are getting a new spin at a Des Moines store. What started as a Facebook group has turned into a thriving shop. In a time of uncertainty, a little nostalgia can go a long way. And that’s what Vinyl Cup Records in Des Moines is hoping to offer music lovers of all ages. It started as a Facebook group in 2017. Store owner Luke Dickens was a collector and would go to shows and pop-ups. He quickly learned his passion was shared by many, saying “we went from 40 members to 2000 members in six months. My wife said get these records out of my house. Okay, so I open the record store.” Dickens and store manager Benji Rask say listening to a record is an experience that transports you into the studio. And it’s certainly nostalgic. But there’s also something magical happening with vinyl. It’s bridging generations. They say “I think that people are really liking kind of going back in time a little bit because we are so attached to our devices, kids are listening to what their parents were, and also new artists, almost every new artist is releasing on vinyl.”

New York, NY | Vinyl sales saw record-setting increase in 2020: Music fans purchasing albums as vinyl records has become more popular in recent years. But sales in 2020 were record-setting. “I think it’s dedicating yourself to something. It’s fashionable. It’s appealing to have a collection. It’s appealing to support your artists in a way that you’d like,” says Rutgers University freshman Sebastian Denis. Denis was shopping at the Princeton Record Exchange to add to his vinyl record collection. The store sold 3,800 new vinyl records in December – an unprecedented number in the digital era, according to owner Jon Lambert. “At times, I feel like I’m in the ‘80s again. But there’s something about these times and that sort of shopping and that sort of experience,” Lambert says. While it was unclear how much of a role the pandemic played in the sale increase, it is a fact that buying habits have changed. Vinyl outsold CDs in 2020 for the first time in nearly 35 years. There was more than a quarter-billion dollars’ worth of sales in the first half of 2020 alone.

Rapid City, SD | Local vinyl record businesses see sizable surge in sales during Christmas week: Local businesses, like Black Hills Vinyl and Ernie November, saw a surge in vinyl record sales during the week of Christmas. It’s the trend that shined through for the old way of listening to music as nearly two million records were sold nationally in the week of December 24. A record in and of its own. Local stores like Black Hills Vinyl and Ernie November cashed in, but the rise in record sales didn’t necessarily come as a surprise, since both businesses said that vinyl says have been increasing over the years. “We’ve definitely had a jump this year in records, but we’ve seen it for the last 10 years; creeping up every year, except this year it would be an exception where it was drastic,” said Keith Coombes, the Manager of Ernie November. “We more than doubled our record sales in the month of December.” A global pandemic is actually helping these businesses in a time where people weren’t able to see their favorite performers live in action.

Grove, OK | The Farr Side column: 2021 arrives, vinyl-y: Picture this: I’m sitting on the floor with the albums “Thriller,” “Purple Rain,” “Like A Virgin,” “Synchronicity,” “Footloose,” “Private Dancer,” “Can’t Slow Down” and so many others. It’s like it was yesterday. That’s because it was yesterday. I never dreamed I’d relive those kinds of moments again. But I did and I’m loving it. Music has been a huge part of my life and that will never change. Can you imagine how thrilling it was for me to venture into the stores over Christmas and see what I was seeing? Thank goodness for having to adorn masks, because I’m sure the look on my face was … interesting. I was like a kid in a candy store. I used to love going to department stores to check their music offerings. It’s been a sad realization to see the music section dwindling over the past few years in the wake of digital music and streaming services. Don’t get me wrong, the ease and quickness to play music is wonderful. But it’s not the same experience.

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In rotation: 1/8/21

The Real Reason Why Vinyl Sales Just Skyrocketed Record Levels, Passing 1991: Album sales decreased in 2020 across digital and physical. During the year everything else seemed to be in free fall, vinyl sales shot up by a staggering 46.2% according to MRC Data’s 2020 year-end report. Vinyl sales have been steadily increasing for the past 15 years. …The first Record Store Day took place in 2008, starting a legacy and tradition of celebrating the unique culture of record stores and everyone in them. Usually, on the day of, music lovers and vinyl aficionados come out and support indie record stores while getting their hands on special releases. In 2020, the community rallied to show indie stores extra support during a time when small businesses struggled intensely under the toll of the pandemic. While Record Store Day is usually an event in April and November, it became a four-part series in 2020. This helped drive sales.

The Official Top 40 best-selling vinyl albums and singles of 2020: Kylie Minogue, AC/DC, Idles and Joy Division are among the UK’s top selling vinyl releases of the year. Sales of vinyl records climbed for a 13th consecutive year in the UK in 2020, with new as well as classic albums enjoying success on the revived format. As fans turned to music during a difficult year, sales of vinyl jumped by over a tenth (11.5%) year-on-year to almost 5 million (4.8m), music industry body the BPI reports. Many also supported indepedendent record shops by purchasing locally, with hundreds offering online delivery as the UK comes in and out of lockdown. Last year Official Charts launched the Official Indie Record Store Finder, encouraging their customers to become virtual cratediggers. We also teamed up with Record Store Day and National Album Day to launch The Record Club in association with Bowers & Wilkins – a livestream series that takes place every other Wednesday that encourages viewers to order the album of the guest act in each episode through their local record shop, give it a listen, then watch the broadcast to find out all about it.

Top 5 reasons why vinyl records are better than digital music: Music fans across the UK are embracing old experiences and purchasing vinyl records in droves. With many cancellations of gigs over the last year, it’s no surprise that the UK vinyl market has boomed. Listen to a superior sound quality: While digital music is produced for a smooth, clean listening experience, vinyl records offer a sound quality like no other. If you want to recreate the sound experience of a live concert, vinyl is about as close as you can get. From the soft crackle between tracks to the specific timbre of your favourite singer, vinyl effortlessly captures the qualities your ear loves to hear. Enjoy a real, hands-on experience: Whichever record player you decide on (choosing the right one can take time) you’ll enjoy a real experience when playing your records. From sliding the record out of its sleeve to lowering the needle, it is a hands-on experience that will make you appreciate music in a new way.

10 Great Album Covers, Chosen by Andrea Beaulieu of Studio Linear: Nirvana, Likke Li, Björk and more. My childhood was full of music. From a young age—3rd grade, to be exact—I started piano lessons, which continued all through grade school and high school, and then I attended college for music composition. I played in many bands starting in 7th grade, playing in a friend’s basement for hours practicing music by Green Day, Nirvana and other grunge-inspired music. I really wanted to be a rock star and had a family that encouraged that path. Music is in my blood, I suppose you could say. My dad once researched our family tree to find that on one side we were distantly related to Eric Clapton and on another side our roots came from Cape Breton, where we are connected to the MacMaster family of musicians. I have these wonderful memories of being a little girl and watching my grandmother play her honey blonde piano or my dad buying me that electric guitar I wanted for Christmas and we would just jam for hours, him on the bass and me on any instrument I could get my hands on. Yeah, my childhood was full of the favorites.

Record Store Recs: Estereomance Are All In Their Feels With Vinyl From El Paso, Los Angeles & Mexico City: These three record stores are important locations for us. Amoeba in L.A. always gives us that big city treat; You can literally stay there for hours, finding new music every minute. We love that they have in-store shows that a lot of great artists perform at—that always inspires us and makes us daydream of playing there one day. We are mostly working when we are in L.A., but we made it a tradition to make time in our schedule to go and find records there; it feels like a souvenir from each trip. The last time we were there, Adria got Quincy Jones’ Sounds…And Stuff Like That!! (1978, A&M Records), Manu got Madvillain’s Madvillainy (2004, Stones Throw Records) and Paulina got Aretha Franklin’s Aretha Now (1968, Atlantic Records).

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In rotation: 1/7/21

Indianapolis, IN | Fountain Square record store to nearly double in size, add kitchen: A Fountain Square record store plans to add a kitchen as part of its expansion into a neighboring retail space. Square Cat Vinyl, 1054 Virginia Ave., plans to nearly double in size, adding about 2,400 square feet that was previously occupied by Vintage Vogue, a Goodwill store for fashionable second-hand clothing that closed in March 2020. The record store presently occupies one half of the roughly 5,100-square-foot building and has reached an agreement with Carmel-based property owner North Hill Realty LLC to take over the rest, co-owner Patrick Burtch told IBJ. The store’s expansion will allow it to spread out its product offerings, as well as build a kitchen at the rear of the space. The additional space will also allow Square Cat to expand its coffee and alcohol bar. The expansion also creates an opportunity for the business to offer live music—a staple for several businesses in the neighborhood—although that might not occur immediately after the expansion. Square Cat opened in 2016 and is currently owned by self-proclaimed “vinyl dorks” Burtch and Mike Angel.

Madison, WI | The Door is a heavy hideaway in Monona: The small record store focuses on metal and punk. The Madison area’s newest record store occupies an elusive notch in a Monona strip mall. To find The Door, you go down a short alley at 4509 Monona Drive, through a dark hallway, and into a small room where owner John Sands deals in a compact but impressive selection that focuses heavily on punk and metal LPs, both used and new. To go with the strange space, there’s also a warped sense of humor. An old gas-station sign reading “NIGHT LUBRICATION” hangs ominously over a case of DVDs, and the store currently has a Limp Bizkit CD on sale behind the counter for $699.99. Sands jokes that when new customers succeed in finding the store, “they’ll be like, ‘oh, I know why the rent’s so cheap.'” The Door opened in June 2020. Currently its hours are a little sporadic and announced through The Door’s Facebook page, as Sands balances the business with his responsibilities as a stay-at-home dad. Sands would eventually like to have the store open Thursday through Saturday. To some extent, The Door fills the void left behind by downtown’s Ear Wax Records, which closed in fall 2018. Most of Madison’s record stores carry at least a small selection of heavy music, but like Ear Wax before it, The Door is the only one that treats metal and punk as its first priorities.

Westchester, IL | We Buy Records All-Vinyl Record Store Coming to Westchester, Illinois: We Buy Records, an all-vinyl record store, is set to open on Roosevelt Road in Westchester, IL in 2021. An original opening date of Spring 2020 was delayed due to the pandemic. They will buy and sell strictly used vinyl records (LPs and 45s), with a special focus on soul, jazz, funk, dance, and rock music. We Buy Records, a strictly vinyl record store with a flagship location in Milwaukee, is set to open its second shop on Roosevelt Road in Westchester, IL in 2021. An original opening date of Spring 2020 was delayed due to the pandemic. Owners Andy Noble and Brian Cote used the delay to purchase thousands more hard-to-find vinyl LPs and 45s to add to their opening stock. We Buy Records will focus on used records exclusively, mainly covering 1960s to present day rock, soul, jazz, disco, new wave, blues, and dance music genres. As inferred by their name, the owners say a large focus of their business will be buying used record collections both at the store and by making house calls to sellers with larger collections. Co-owner Noble says it isn’t uncommon for them to see collections as large as 10,000 LPs or as small as five to ten 7″ singles in the same week.

Canton, OH | North Canton record shop owners push through pandemic problems with music: Starting a business isn’t easy and doing it during a global pandemic is even harder. But that didn’t stop one North Canton family from stepping out on faith to bring the healing power of music to their community. Surrounded by talented artists, both global and local, Josh Harris is living out his dream as the owner of Dr. Frankenstein’s House of Wax, a record store he opened with his wife Stacey in June 2020. “I just love everything about music because you can get lost in it,” Josh Harris said. “Vinyl right now is coming back in a major way. It’s actually outselling digital music three times to one.” But that’s only part of the reason why the Harris family decided to open a business in the midst of a pandemic. “It’s something that he’s been kicking around for a few years and we finally just took the opportunity to do it,” Stacey Harris said. Josh Harris’ work as a machinist started to slow down at the beginning of 2020 and Stacey Harris’ did too, so they decided to take a risk to support their family.

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In rotation: 1/6/21

Manchester, UK | How vinyl records got back on track with the best sales for three decades: ‘The vinyl package, from the artwork to putting the needle on the record, isn’t something that can be replicated digitally and I think people still love the process of actually playing a record.’ Sales of vinyl LPs boomed in 2020 as music lovers sought solace in records on lockdown. Here, Manchester Evening News chief reporter Neal Keeling pens a personal take on the phenomenon. Walking onto the second floor of HMV in Manchester’s Arndale rekindled memories of finding solace when I was a teenager – and broke. I could have been back in the 1970s in my Midlands hometown, at school, or in Leeds at the Polytechnic, in 1979-81, as an impoverished undergraduate. During both eras, when I had no money, I could spend half an hour for free flicking through row after row of meticulously arranged albums. In those days HMV was notoriously expensive – or maybe I was forever devoid of dosh. But gazing at the cover of the first Roxy Music LP – a glossy concoction of saxophone, guitars, and the vibrato voice of Brian Ferry, wrapped up in a sleeve graced by the blue-eye-shadowed model Kari-Ann Muller, was very cheap escapism.

Kingston, UK | Banquet Records resume sales to Europe following Brexit “clarity.” The Kingston-based record store paused all orders to Europe last month due to the uncertainty over Brexit. Banquet Records have announced that they have resumed sales to Ireland and mainland Europe after receiving “clarity” in regards to Brexit trading arrangements. The Kingston-based record store previously paused all orders to Europe on December 16 due to the uncertainty over Brexit, saying in a tweet: “Thanks in advance for your patience while we work to find a solution to the difficult, avoidable position we’re in.” The worrying prospect of a No Deal Brexit was avoided on December 30 after MPs voted in favour of Boris Johnson‘s trade deal with the EU, and that development has now led to Banquet receiving the “clarity” they needed in order to confidently resume shipping to EU countries. …“We’re not very global if our artists and musicians can’t tour easily across our closest and most culturally aligned, neighbouring countries. It is time for the architects of Brexit to put their money where their mouths are and prove that Brexit can be a success and not a catastrophe for our industry.”

Tokyo, JP | Vinyl Music Records Regaining Popularity in Japan: Vinyl music records are regaining popularity in Japan despite the Asian country and the rest of the world being in the digital age. Production of analog records in the country, which peaked at around 200 million units a year in the second half of the 1970s, followed a downtrend later and hit bottom in 2009, at about 100,000 units, due to the spread of CDs, according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan. But the annual production started to rebound since then, reaching some 1.22 million units in 2019, up roughly 12-fold from the level 10 years before, with some artists launching new songs and albums on vinyl records. The record industry has been making efforts to win more fans, including among young people. On the analog record floor of Tower Records Japan’s Shinjuku outlet in Tokyo in mid-December 2020, fans were seen digging through their favorite records. “It takes time, such as for changing records and putting a stylus on a record on the player, but I like analog records because they make me feel like ‘I’m listening to the music,'” said a 50-year-old corporate worker who came to the store to buy hit songs of the Showa era (1926-1989).

We listened to old vinyl in Jimi Hendrix’s bedroom to prove retro turntables still rock: Don’t write off your old turntable. We often like to talk about how far turntables have come in the last decade, with audio innovations making it possible to listen to your vinyl via Bluetooth speakers, upload your old records to your computer with built-in USB ports, and set up these complex machines in minutes. That makes it easy to dismiss the turntables of old – but there’s something undeniably charming about listening to old records on the machines that existed when those albums were actually released. Where better to do this than in Jimi Hendrix’s London flat? That’s where the guitar hero’s actual audio setup has been lovingly recreated. Hendrix moved into the upstairs apartment at 23 Brook Street in 1968, and upon learning that composer George Frederic Handel lived next door nearly 250 years prior, he set about amassing a comprehensive vinyl collection that included Handel’s Messiah, among more contemporary artists like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Bee Gees, and Ravi Shankar. Now a museum dedicated to the two music icons, the bedroom in the upstairs flat has been restored to Hendrix’s exact tastes, with bohemian rugs, intricate wall hangings, and retro knick-knacks – and it includes that all-important vinyl collection.

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In rotation: 1/5/21

UK | Vinyl’s revival keeps music sales spinning: It scratches and no algorithm will guide you to your next favourite track, but Britain just can’t get enough vinyl. Sales of LPs in the UK rose to nearly five million this year, the highest figure in three decades and the 13th consecutive year of growth since 2007, as younger customers as well as baby boomers help to fuel the demand. Vinyl now accounts for 18 per cent of albums sold in Britain, according to the BPI, the umbrella group for UK record labels. The format is also a boon to artists and record labels, generating almost twice as much in revenues as music video streaming platforms such as YouTube.

Washington, MO | Vinyl Spins Again: Music Lovers Relish Resurgence of Bygone Medium: On Wednesday, the words of Tom Petty’s album “Wildflowers & All the Rest” permeated the air of Mark Kriebaum’s Washington home. The works of this late rock ‘n’ roll crooner — who is heralded as one of the most iconic voices of his generation — are just some of the hundreds of records in Kriebaum’s self-described “Vinyl Room.” Visitors to this personal collection are likely to find a variety of music genres represented. The vinyl records range from albums produced by The Clash to Bruce Springsteen to Hot Tuna, an American blues band. Kriebaum is one of several Washington area residents who are delighted with the resurgence of a music medium that was once thought to be nearly extinct. …Chris Brough, owner of River City Music in Washington, said he’s seen all these trends reflected in his store since it started selling vinyl in 2017. He usually keeps 400 to 500 albums stocked and said he sells some every day year round.

Valletta, MLT | Anthony D’Amato, Co-Owner Of Beloved Valletta Record Store Dies: ‘You Leave Behind A Legacy Of Kindness.’ Anthony D’Amato, the third-generation co-owner of the beloved D’Amato record store in Valletta, has passed away at the age of 75. “Today marks a very sad day for our family. You were taken away from us too fast too soon,” his son Anthony, the store’s fourth-generation owner, said through the store’s Facebook page. Not even three weeks have passed since you were giving us a hand in Valletta. You leave behind a legacy of kindness, love and respect to anyone that you crossed path with.” “A pillar of the family business for which you dedicated over 60 years of life to. Rest in peace dad.” Set up by Giovanni D’Amato in 1885, the small shop in St John’s Street has often been described as the oldest record store in the world and it has survived World War II bombings, the Spanish Flu and several recessions.

Lacey, NJ | New Music Store ‘For The Record’ Opens In Lacey: The store offers a trove of music memorabilia from t-shirts and posters to rare collectibles and books. The arrival of a new vinyl record store in Lacey sparked curiosity among the town. People who drove past the purple storefront posed questions online about when the store would open, and some even knocked on the door to ask the owner themselves. Since the owner began setting up the store in October, she drafted a hand-written list of people to call when the store would be stocked with vinyl records and ready to open. Well the day has arrived, and For the Record will officially open its doors on Friday. The store offers a trove of music memorabilia from t-shirts and posters to rare collectibles and books. “Music is a big passion of mine. I’m always out and about going to see bands,” said the store owner, Mary Spilabotte. A few pieces of merchandise in the store were collected at concerts she attended throughout the 1980s and ’90s.

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In rotation: 1/4/21

UK | Vinyl sales surge again in 2020 as music fans enjoy records during lockdown: Vinyl albums now account for almost one in five of all albums purchased in the UK. Sales of vinyl and cassettes surged once again in 2020, as music fans spent much of lockdown discovering new favourites to add to their collections. The BPI, the organisation that represents the UK’s recorded music industry, reports Official Charts Company data showing that fans bought nearly 5 million vinyl LPs in 2020, marking a 21st century record and the highest total since the early Nineties. Cassette sales are set to double by the end of the year, their highest level since 2003, as artists offer their music in a greater range of formats. Both classic and contemporary artists enjoyed bigger record and tape sales, from Fleetwood Mac and AC/DC to Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga. While streaming still accounts for four fifths of music consumption, fans appear to be looking for other ways to enjoy their favourite music.

US | Vinyl Album Sales Hit New Record High in Christmas Week 2020: Vinyl LP sales at indie record stores also reach single-week Nielsen Music/MRC Data record. As predicted, U.S. vinyl album sales hit another historic high, as 1.842 million LPs were sold in the week ending Dec. 24, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. That’s the largest week for the format since Nielsen Music/MRC Data began electronically tracking music sales in 1991. The previous high was set only a week earlier, when 1.445 million were sold in the frame ending Dec. 17. Furthermore, vinyl album sales outpaced CD sales for the week: 1.841 million vs. 1.671 million. It’s the fourth time that’s happened since 1991, and all four instances occurred in 2020. Vinyl LP sales at independent record stores were also record-setting, as 733,000 copies were sold via indie stores in the week ending Dec. 24 — the biggest week for the format at indies dating to 1991. The previous record week came during Record Store Day 2019’s week (673,000; week ending April 11, 2019). Vinyl LP sales received a holiday boost in the week ending Dec. 24, as the tracking frame captured the seven shopping days leading up to Christmas Day (Dec. 25).

St. Louis Park, MN | SolSta Records brings new sound to St. Louis Park: December marked a new beginning for SolSta Records. Phil and Hannah Borreson, the husband-and-wife team that owns the business, packed up their popular south Minneapolis shop and moved to their new location on Excelsior Boulevard in St. Louis Park. “Moving had been in the plan for a couple of years,” Phil said. “We had everything ready to go a couple of years ago. It was about finding the right space.” 2020 certainly was not a year most businesses could have planned for or anticipated as COVID-19 left no industry untouched. “Every week gets a little different between different restrictions and shopping habits,” Phil said. “We’ve changed from a store where someone comes through and digs through records to a place where you mostly shop our online inventory.” Fortunately, the online surge was something SolSta Records was prepared for.

Newtown, PA | Newtown Book & Record Exchange Under New Ownership: After 40 years, store owner Bobbie Lewis is handing over the keys to the shop to a longtime employee. Forty years is a good run for any business, let alone a book and record store, which is a dying breed in modern America where small business owners struggle to compete with retail giants like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Bobbie Lewis, who opened the Newtown Book & Record Exchange at 102 S. State Street in 1981, is placing her trust in one of her longtime employees to keep the business running for another 40 years. After four decades as a business owner, Lewis is calling it quits. Fortunately for book and record lovers in Newtown, her store will remain open for the foreseeable future. “When Newtown Book & Record Exchange opened in 1981, little did I know it would be almost 40 years later before I would be announcing a new owner!” Lewis posted on Facebook last week. “This has truly been a labor of love for me and I will miss seeing you as many of you are like family to me. Without you and your support we would never have survived for so many years.”

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In rotation: 12/18/20

Austin, TX | Austin brothers amp up local music scene with new stereo and record shop: This may sound like a broken record: 2020 sucks. But two Austin entrepreneurs are trying to change that tune with a meticulously curated lifestyle record store in South Austin that is likely to strike a chord with music lovers. Located at 4361 S. Congress Ave., Living in Stereo is more like a hip, cozy lounge than a retail outlet, evoking a midcentury modern design aesthetic and a vintage Austin vibe. It’s the brainchild of brothers Robert and Enzo Johnson, who were laid off early in the pandemic but chose to invest their savings to open their dream shop. The emporium showcases high-end stereo systems, both new and refurbished, as well as collectable guitars, home décor, custom neon signs, and vinyl records, and the space includes an onsite coffee bar featuring locally roasted beans from El Tigre Coffee. From the design elements to the eclectic offerings, each characteristic of Living in Stereo was chosen with intention, with the Johnson brothers aiming to capture the cultural significance and character of Austin’s halcyon days.

San Francisco, CA | San Francisco’s Best Local Retail Store of 2020: Amoeba Music: Amoeba is open for business, but the best is yet to come: Local retail businesses have never faced as big of a challenge as 2020 has presented them. And while some haven’t been able to survive, others have found ways to adapt with online sales. The one that The Bold Italic readers chose as the Best Local Retail Store is iconic Amoeba Music. Founded in Berkeley in 1990, Amoeba survived decades of turmoil from the music industry to become a renowned location for musicians, music lovers, and tourists to the Bay Area. As we’ve transitioned from one method of enjoying music to the other with breakneck speed, you’d think that crate-digging would have been engulfed by the annals of history, rendered obsolete. It hasn’t. For some of us, there’s nothing more soothing than rifling through a box of buried treasure we can listen to. Amoeba in San Francisco mirrors the bespoke experience of finding your favorite song on vinyl. Since retail has been allowed back open, business has kept up—the store also has an online collection available to peruse.

Godfrey, IL | River Bend Records Now Open In Godfrey, Has Huge Collection Of Old School Vinyl Records, Hopes To Expand In Future: The past decade has seen a resurgence in vinyl records, as many current artists have put their most recent releases on vinyl, along with compact discs, and more recently digital downloads on streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, and other services. At the newly-opened River Bend Records in Godfrey, the vast majority of music is offered on vinyl, as the store has a vast collection of music from all genres from the 50s through today. The new store has gotten off to a great start among music collectors around the area. “Things have been going really well,” said Billy Hurst, who co-owns the store along with his wife, Tara. “Really, really busy, You know, we’ve been here about six weeks, and the response from the general public has been just amazing. So supportive.” The fact that vinyl records are making a comeback is something the Hurst feels has been coming for some time. “It’s been probably about 10 years in the making,” Hurst said, “a second wave or resurgence of sorts. In the last two years, vinyl’s outsold CDs. So yeah, very, very cool.”

Columbus, OH | The ’13th best record store in Columbus’ celebrates 10 years in business: Even amid a pandemic, Elizabeth’s Records co-owner David Lewis has held tight to a community grown steadily over the last decade. The three years that David Lewis worked at Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas, the shop was consistently voted the top record store in the area by various publications. “It was always like, ‘We’re number one!’ And we had shirts that said, ‘Number one record store in Austin!’” said Lewis, who co-owns Elizabeth’s Records in Clintonville with wife Laura. “And I hated that. I didn’t want to be that at all [when we opened]. I’m always the underdog.” Lewis embraced that beloved misfit role when Elizabeth’s opened in November 2010, joking at the time that it was the 42nd best record store in town. “And we’ve worked our way up to 13th,” Lewis deadpanned during a recent interview in the shop, which is currently open to the public Friday through Sunday, its hours curtailed by the ongoing pandemic. “And I’m happy with that. That’s a comfortable place. It’s close enough to the top for me. I can deal with that.”

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In rotation: 12/17/20

Minneapolis, MN | When one record store closes, other windows open: Like many during COVID, Minneapolis shop owner Colin Wilkinson has experienced ups and downs. But after closing Dead Media, a hole-in-the-wall record shop stacked with all things analog, this past spring, Wilkinson is starting fresh with two new ventures. Through finishing the journey for one business and starting another, Wilkinson says he can’t help but be optimistic about the future. Dead Media was tucked alongside 35th Street on the south side of Minneapolis. Those who had the chance to visit likely remember the shop’s sloping wooden floor or the old door that flung open with a Minnesota winter breeze and led to a treasure trove of books, records and cassettes. Others lucky enough to attend a Record Day at Dead Media might even be familiar with the shop’s bunker-like basement overflowing with records. Now the records have been transferred to Wilkinson’s new, mostly digital, shop, Disco Death Records. Wilkinson said with the uncertainty of businesses reopening and Dead Media’s lease up for renewal, it seemed safer to close up shop.

Palm Springs, CA | ‘Closing on a high note’: Record Alley will end 42-year run in desert: Record Alley owner Jim Stephens is closing his store at Westfield Palm Desert after 42 years in the business. Music royalty — including Alice Cooper, Barry Manilow and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top —dropped in during desert visits. Josh Homme of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age also grew up shopping at Record Alley. “We have a lot of loyal customers and I feel for them. They’re going to be sad, but I think somebody is going to pick up the slack,” Stephens said. “We’re closing on a high note and that is good, so we’re kind of like ‘Seinfeld,’ which ended when they were at their peak.” Stephens said his decision to close came amid lease problems with Westfield Palm Desert after a four-month shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic, and also his wife’s health problems. “My wife is on biologic infusions and has immune issues, so we have to be careful about that. We’re not able to work in the store anymore and that creates a problem,” Stephens said. Record Alley will start a 50% off sale on Dec. 28 and close in late January.

Roswell, GA | Mojo Vinyl: Reader-Nominated Businesses Of The Year: Roswell’s Best. Mojo Vinyl sells new and used vinyl, turntables, posters and books along with other record related material. Owner Rand Cabus has for years worked diligently to build a local record store that welcomes anyone and everyone to share in the love of music no matter what genre. Now in its fourth iteration and location (36 Woodstock Street) Mojo Vinyl is more than just a local business, it has become a gathering place for individuals throughout the greater Atlanta area to come together on a regular basis to share in their love of music in general and music on vinyl specifically. While the challenges of a pandemic have made it more difficult, Rand has responded with guidance from the CDC and kept both new and existing customers safe. Rand is always looking for new ideas and events to participate in to promote not only his business but also to celebrate the greater Roswell community and I think that sort of dedication should be recognized and celebrated. His commitment to that ideal consistently draws increasing numbers of people from other communities to Roswell where they then shop and ultimately take a positive impression of Roswell back to their own communities driving even more traffic to Roswell.

Louisville, KY | Better Days Records relocates second shop in Louisville to bigger location: An iconic record shop in Louisville is moving to a new location. Better Days Records has been on Bardstown Road in the Highlands for more than 30 years. But the shop is getting settled in its new digs not too far away on Barret Avenue. The owner, Ben Jones, said he needed more space to expand, and this new store more than doubles the size of the old one. Jones said this allows him to bring all of his merchandise that’s been in storage out in one place. The large, open floor plan allows customers to feel safe inside the store and social distance, Jones said. With current pandemic guidelines, the store can allow up to 25 people inside at once. Jones said business was slowing down before the coronavirus hit, but more people are taking an interest in vinyl with the extra free time stuck at home. “Even though the world has stopped a bit, we’re prepared for when it starts back up again with this new store,” said Jones. Better Days Records has a second location at Lyle’s Mall, and there are no plans to move or close that shop.

Vinyl sales in U.S. hit all-time high with almost 1.3 million records sold in one week: Record Store Day and Black Friday helped sales to reach a historic peak. …According to a report from Billboard, which was based on data from Nielsen Music/MRC Data, 1.253 million vinyl albums were sold in one week in the US – surpassing the 1.243 million sold a year earlier in the week ending 26th December 2019 and marking the largest sales week in recorded history since electronic tracking began in 1991. Record Store Day limited-editions and Black Friday promotions at independent record stores helped to bolster the sales week, with independent physical store sales accounting for 542,000 vinyl LPs sold. The report also states that the sale of vinyl LPs at mass merchants including Walmart and Target, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, contributed to the new high for the week ending 3rd December. Vinyl sales in the UK are also on track to hit a three-decade high this year, with projections for sales of the format to rake in £100 million by the end of 2020.

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In rotation: 12/16/20

Madison, WI | Strictly Discs in Wisconsin, in a Pandemic: ‘We’re Seeing an Uptick’ in Curbside Pickups: Though COVID-19 cases seem to have plateaued in Wisconsin (for now), store owner Angie Roloff says many customers are exercising more caution as the pandemic tightens its grip across the U.S. 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 Gov. 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.

North Charleston, SC | Charleston vinyl shops see good sales throughout 2020: Charleston-area record stores are reporting good sales in 2020, a possible bright spot despite the financial challenges the pandemic has posed for the music industry as a whole. Drew Anderson of North Charleston vinyl shop Gray Cat Music notes that sales have remained steady since May, and online sales on discogs.com are up 30% compared to 2019. “My business has luckily been growing every year,” he said, adding that Gray Cat did better overall in 2020 than last year. Anderson attributes the good fiscal year to the fact that his business is small. Gray Cat mostly sells used vinyl, and he doesn’t have to cover a large lease at his current location at The Station in Park Circle, where local makers and retailers like Anderson set up small booths. In addition, the way Record Store Day was divided into three separate days in three months aided his business’ sales, he said. “Otherwise I think my sales would have dropped in those months.” Bruce Berg, owner of the Record Stop on John Street, told the City Paper his store’s sales numbers are up “incredibly” from 2019.

Orlando, FL | Two record stores in Orlando have autographed Megan Thee Stallion CDs for sale: Two worthy Orlando record stories have quite the exclusive available for purchase: autographed copies of Megan Thee Stallion’s new CD, Good News — in very limited quantities and apparently not available anywhere else in Florida. Park Ave CDs and Re-Runz Records are the only spots in town to get your hands on these rarities. Park Ave CDs has some available through their webstore; the rest can only be purchased in the store on a first-come, first-served basis. Park Ave CDs opens at noon on weekdays. Re-Runz — according to a Facebook post from a couple of days ago — has 15 copies of the signed Good News CD, also available on a first-come, first-served basis. Re-Runs opens at 11 a.m. on weekdays (and will also have unsigned copies of the CD for purchase). Some of the proceeds from each CD sale will go to the Black Women’s Health Imperative. Happy hunting! These treasures are sure to go fast.

No, I Am Not Getting Rid of My Thousands of CDs: Our chief classical music critic writes in praise of going to a shelf, pulling out a recording and sitting down to listen. In the late 1970s, when I was living in Boston, the record store of choice for classical music fans was the Harvard Coop. It had an extensive catalog and informed salespeople eager to offer invariably strong opinions on which albums to buy. I’d often bump into friends and fellow musicians, all of us flipping through bins of LPs. After making a purchase I’d have to squeeze yet more shelf space out of my cramped apartment, but I was pleased at my growing home library. Then, in 1982, CDs arrived. Slowly everyone started converting from 12-inch vinyl LPs to four-and-a-half-inch plastic CDs in jewel-box cases that required a completely different storage setup. And what were you supposed to do with your old LPs? Now the cycle has repeated itself, with CD sales dwindling to a fraction of their heights a couple of decades ago. Download and streaming services have taken hold, and physical discs have become obsolete. After all, with everything available online, why clutter up your living space?

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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