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

In rotation: 5/22/20

Rochester, NY | Rochester’s Record Archive Likes the Sound of Reopening — Safely: At Record Archive, March 17 was the day the music stopped — the day Vice President Alayna Alderman had to lay off her staff and temporarily shut down Rochester’s long-running music store. “It’s just earth-shattering,” said Alderman. “We’ve been through tough times before, but this was incredibly challenging.” Once the state allowed them to resume, Alderman says online mail orders and curbside pickup have kept the lights on. That business, she says, has been steady. “It’s given me hope through some dark days,” she said. “Because it’s really been an emotional roller coaster.” The music store experience is a unique one — where customers often spend hours browsing through records and CD’s, touching just about everything. With retail stores getting ready to reopen, the key is to do it safely. At Record Archive, hand sanitizer stations have already been placed throughout the store. In a nostalgic twist, adapters for 45 RPM records have been painted on the floor leading up to the cash register — six feet apart — marking off safe social distances for customers.

Vancouver, CA | Vancouver record store works to preserve ‘vibe’ amid social distancing: Record Store Day will look a little different this year. The annual spring event, originally set for April 18 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced multiple postponements, will now take place over three separate dates in August, September and October. It’s not a day at all anymore. It’s also no longer an event, said Ben Frith, the manager of Neptoon Records. “Basically, they’re saying: don’t make an event of it, don’t have bands, don’t have a party,” he told Postmedia Wednesday, while preparing for the Main Street shop to reopen later this week. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing significant changes for businesses, and record stores are no exception. At least for now those days of spending hours in your local record shop, digging through stacks of milk crates, shoulder to shoulder with other audiophiles are gone. So are the listening stations. “We’ve literally just removed them,” said Frith, with a laugh. “Putting headphones on someone’s head is such a bad idea right now.”

White Bear Lake, MN | Longtime downtown White Bear Lake businesses cope with shutdown: White Bear Lake Records. When you say that businesses in downtown White Bear Lake are hanging on by a thread, you wouldn’t only be talking about the Sheepy Yarn Shoppe. “Something has to happen soon or downtown White Bear Lake will be a ghost town real fast, because it’s a small-business town,” said Drew Miller, co-owner of White Bear Lake Records, an 18-year-old enterprise at 4775 Banning Ave. “We are in survival mode only right now, as opposed to making more money,” said Earl Poyerd, owner of Benny’s Barbershop, a downtown fixture at 4742 Washington Square for almost 70 years. “Our biggest concern is that we won’t make it as a business,” said Marjorie Intveld, owner of the Sheepy Yarn Shoppe, which has been open for business at 2185 Third St. since 1991. Relief appears to be in sight after Gov. Tim Walz on May 13 declared that the stay-at-home order would be lifted on May 18, and some businesses on his nonessential list would be allowed to open.

Hamilton, CA | Business owners conflicted about opening doors amid COVID-19 pandemic: Dr. Disc. Mark Furukawa has been waiting to reopen Dr. Disc after shutting its doors in March. He had the chance to welcome customers back into his record shop on Tuesday, but decided to wait. “I want to feel confident I’m making the right decision, the last thing I want on my conscience is somebody getting sick as a result of coming into the store, that’s the bottom line for me,” he told CBC News. With an inventory intensive store on Wilson Street, Furukawa said he would be unable to consistently sanitize the thousands of records in his store. “How do I make sure I disinfect all of the records between visits? I’m not going to open and say you can only look at the rock alphabet or isolate a certain area of the store, that doesn’t make sense,” he explained.

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In rotation: 5/21/20

Charlotte, NC | Local Business Owners Make Tough Decisions As County Reopens: Lunchbox Records. …Scott Wishart, owner of Lunchbox Records in the Belmont neighborhood, has opted not to open his store for now. “I don’t feel safe yet,” Wishart said. “My employees don’t seem to feel that way either. [We] have kids who are in school. It’s kind of hard to work when your kids are out of school.” Opening up would be especially problematic for a record store, he offered. “It’s the kind of business where everyone has to touch everything and I have to show people stuff,” Wishart said. “I can’t just sit behind plexiglass at the counter like a dude in a convenience store.” Like Hernandez, Wishart shut down in-store operations on March 16. A few days later, he switched to a business model split between mail order and curbside service. Even with his doors locked, Wishart cleans frequently with sanitizer that he makes himself with alcohol, water and aloe. For pick-up, patrons pay for merchandise online and then arrive by car. Wearing gloves and mask, Wishart takes the bagged merchandise out to the parked car. He said only half the people who come up to the door and try entering the store wear masks. “I still don’t think they get it,” he said.

St. Petersburg, FL | St. Pete Records opening new store in Warehouse Arts District: The new shop sits in a warehouse across the street from 3 Daughters Brewing. St. Pete Records closed its store at 6648 Central Ave. back on March 17, right as the coronavirus was shutting down the retail world. “See ya when we see ya,” owners wrote that day on Facebook. They’re almost ready to see you again — albeit in an entirely new spot. The record shop will reopen June 1 at a new location at 2233 Third Ave. S in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District. The new shop sits in a warehouse across the street from 3 Daughters Brewing. The move closer to downtown is a return of sorts for St. Pete Records. The shop began life inside Furnish Me Vintage the old Gas Plant Building near Tropicana Field — the same building that also once housed Planet Retro Records. It moved west to its first standalone location near Pasadena in 2017. When it reopens June 1, St. Pete Records will require guests to observe safety protocol like face masks and gloves, although they’ll have a few on hand for customers who forget them.

New London, CT | Many area book shops, music stores reopening Wednesday (5/20): Mystic Disc: …A funny thing might happen to those hoping for easy access into Mystic Disc when the store reopens Wednesday. A pleasant diversion might be the massive outdoor used-vinyl sale set up out front on Steamboat Wharf. Featuring thousands of albums listed from $1 to $3, owner Dan Curland emphatically says, “These are not garbage albums. There’s Jim Croce, the Beatles, all kinds of good stuff that might surprise you.” The sale suggests Curland has continued to buy collections during the “idle weeks” of the virus. Too, in addition to listening to the Mount Everest of albums in his personal collections, he’s also sorted through the enormous backlog of store stock he’s lovingly accumulated over almost 38 years in business. “Eastern Connecticut has been doing a good job (with the virus),” Curland says. “People seem to have been paying attention, so I’m going into this reopening with cautious optimism. But we have to keep being smart.”

Melbourne, AU | Dutch Vinyl assessed the crisis and adapted quickly, now they’re reaping the rewards: Chatting with the record store’s owner Mark Reuten. Dutch Vinyl has established quite a reputation within Melbourne’s ranks. A city decorated with record stores, both offering new and second-hand, Dutch Vinyl stands out from the crowd because of its heritage, and the idiosyncrasy that comes with that. The store’s owner, Mark Reuten, moved from The Netherlands just over two decades ago and quickly warmed to the Melbourne way of life. After working as a web developer running his own company, Reuten User Experience Consulting, for the last ten years, it was only recently that Reuten decided to start his passion project. That’s when Dutch Vinyl was born. Now about four years on and Reuten’s once-pipedream is more solid than ever. Part of his success can be put down to his Dutch knowledge, retail knack and feel for presentation. “The idea from the start has been to create a destination store where there is something for everyone…”

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In rotation: 5/20/20

Kamloops, CA | Some businesses wary about reopening as more provinces ease COVID restrictions: Businesses in some provinces spent the long weekend preparing to reopen ahead of an easing of restrictions aimed at curbing the COVID-19 pandemic, even as others said they’re not yet ready to throw open their doors. Ontario has given the green light to certain retail stores to open their doors Tuesday as the province enters the first stage of its reopening plan. …Others said they’re eager to open up shop again, but may need more time to prepare. Stephen Yorke, who owns the Toronto record store Dead Dog Records, said he would will reopen his store’s two locations as soon as possible, but not until he can equip the cash area with plexiglass screens later this week. Even then, the stores will only be able to accommodate two to four customers who will be supplied with latex gloves before they can do any browsing, he said. Staff will continue to sanitize common areas, including door pulls and card readers, he said.

Record Store Recs: Chulita Vinyl Club On The Best Music Stores In L.A., Oakland, Austin & Beyond: In the latest edition of our crate-digging interview series, two reinas from the all-vinyl Latinx DJ collective reveal their favorite vinyl haunts across California and Texas. Texas-born, San Jose, Calif.-based Claudia Saenz originally founded Chulita Vinyl Club to share her love of records—especially Tejano, ranchero, Motown and soul—in a fun, tangible way. The collective, a crew of female-identifying Latinx vinyl-spinning DJs, has grown to seven chapters across California and Texas, including the (Northern California) Bay Area Chapter, which Saenz, a.k.a. Chulita Tear Drop lives. …We caught up with Saenz and one of her fellow Bay Area cohorts, Los Angeles-born, Oakland-based Mar Velez, a.k.a. DJ Marvelouz, for the latest edition of our Record Store Recs interview series. Read on to find out where they get all their great vinyl gems from, and learn about some of the indie labels, artists and new records they have their eyes on.

Portland, ME | Keep ME Open: ‘Bullish’ on changing Maine business during coronavirus pandemic: One well-known Maine business has had to adapt to shifting retail landscape, yet again. This time, Bull Moose had to adapt to the coronavirus, COVID-19 economy. “I was a college student at the time, just really didn’t have much going on,” says Bull Moose Music founder Brett Wickard. So he decided, almost as a whim, “Hey! I’m gonna open up a record store and tell all my friends.” Wickard didn’t really have much of a business plan when he opened the first Bull Moose store in Brunswick in the summer of 1989, but today he oversees nine stores in Maine and three in New Hampshire with 175 employees. Successful entrepreneurs know they have to adapt to changing times if their business is going to thrive, and Wickard has seen a lot of threats over three decades. “When we started out the word was ‘home taping is killing the music industry.’ Then it was ‘big-box retailers are killing small retail.’ Then it was Internet downloading.” He survived by knowing the market…and knowing his audience.

Gallatin, TN | Every Era nears downtown Gallatin debut: She is a self-proclaimed “1970s chick.” He believes that 1959 was the height of American design. Together, recording artists Eric and Lindsey Heatherly hope to share their love of all things vintage with the opening of a new store in downtown Gallatin later this month. Every Era will feature vintage and vintage-inspired items from the 1940s through the 1990s that the Gallatin couple has found throughout the years while traveling and performing shows across the country. “We go everywhere and anywhere to try to find treasures,” said Eric Heatherly, whose cover of “Flowers on the Wall” was a Top 10 hit on the country charts in 2000. “We have a little bit of everything. It’s all hand-selected and picked by us.” Located on Prince Street near the intersection of North Water Avenue, the store will feature a variety of vintage clothing and furniture including Mid-Century Modern lamps, kitchenware, suitcases, cowboy hats, cowboy boots, purses, posters, CDs, vinyl records and turntable consoles.

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In rotation: 5/19/20

Milwaukee, WI | A Lockdown Guide to Record Stores: Music collectors are a particularly rabid bunch, lining up hours before dawn on Record Store Day searching for hard-to-find titles. While some collectors may fall back on websites like Discogs or eBay, there is nothing like the camaraderie of stopping in at a neighborhood record store. Milwaukee is fortunate to have a handful of thriving shops, some of which also host live performances. With Gov. Tony Evers’ easing of restrictions on retail operations here is a guide to local (and beyond) record shops for cratediggers who may be going into withdrawal. ACME Records: “I’m waiting this out for a bit, we’ll see how long,” said ACME’s Ken Chrisien. He said he is still buying records from some regulars (in a very non-contact sort of way). “Appointments and curbside service are being considered at the moment, perhaps in the near future, but I’m guessing that I’ll be one of the last stores to open, as I suspect of this ‘get back to normal’ rush that’s happening right now….we’re a long way from this being controlled.”

Madison, WI | Strictly Discs in Wisconsin, in a Pandemic: ‘I Just Hope We Don’t Have a Resurgence.’ Angie Roloff, owner of Strictly Discs in Madison, Wisconsin, is preparing to reopen the store after the state eased its safer-at-home mandate. 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 are preparing to reopen Strictly Discs in a limited capacity for the first time since mid-March. 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 each week to chronicle her experience

Oklahoma City, OK | Oklahoma Forward: Bookstores and record shops weigh reopening strategies. Vinyl lovers, rejoice! Guestroom Records is now open. But your browsing experience comes with some stipulations. “Right now, we’re requiring that everyone that comes in wears a mask and either hand-sanitizers or wear gloves,” said Co-owner Justin Sowers. They’re also limiting the number of people in stores to eight in Oklahoma City and five in Norman. So far, Sowers said customers are gladly complying. Yeah, it seems to be working well,” he said. “Most customers seem to be pleased with it.” Pandemic survival has fortunately been easy for Sowers and his staff to navigate. Business through curbside pickup and delivery has been steady, and a nice change of pace. “That’s how the record store sort of started is we used to take – we had a big tub and we would take it around to peoples’ houses, you know when we were in college. And, so, it was kind of fun to hand-deliver records again,” Sowers said.

Baltimore, MD | With Record Day Postponed To June, Stores Look To New Ways To Sell Vinyl: Matthew Moffatt, the owner of Smash! Records in Washington, D.C., was looking forward to Record Store Day, the annual April event when music fans descend upon local record stores to purchase limited-release music recorded on vinyl. Music stores, like all nonessential businesses, have been closed in Washington and Maryland since late March, forcing the cancellation of Record Store Day during what is typically the most lucrative time of year for independent record stores. “I would say that it’s probably every record store’s busiest day of the year, even for the stores that don’t participate,” Moffatt said. Record Store Day has been postponed until June, but in the meantime record store owners like Moffatt are looking for new ways to serve a clientele base of fanatics and obsessives, including pricing and selling records on online platforms like Discogs.com.

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In rotation: 5/18/20

London, UK | Phonica Records re-opens online shop for orders: The London institution is back. Phonica Records has re-opened its online shop for UK and international orders. While its physical outpost is closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Phonica is operating the website as normal, with new records and pre-orders alongside classics, reissues, gear and merchandise. Head here to check out the latest releases on site, and stay tuned for a VF Live set hosted from the shop next week.

Seattle, WA | A happy ending for Seattle’s Bop Street Records: a nonprofit buys up the entire collection: When Dave Voorhees, owner of Seattle’s Bop Street Records, announced last month that the store was closing at the end of June in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to sell his enormous collection of 500,000 recordings, sales he had hoped would fund his retirement. This past Sunday, Voorhees stopped worrying. A San Francisco nonprofit called the Internet Archive agreed to purchase the entire collection, sight unseen. Bop Street business manager Bob Jacobs said the exact purchase price will not be settled until the archive has sifted through the collection, but the buyer has already sent a preliminary check and signed a contract. At the end of the day, said Jacobs, “Dave is going to have a healthy, six-figure down payment on his retirement.” …Though “six figures” is a far cry from the $3 million value Jacobs put on the store’s collection last month, Voorhees said he was relieved.

Clawson, MI | Clawson’s Flipside Records battles for business amid COVID-19 state shutdown: “We started out with records, expanded to toys, comics all the rest of the paraphernalia you see around here,” said Todd Fundaro. But ultimately at Flipside Records it’s about the music. They’ve been playing it and selling it in downtown Clawson since 1983. “Music is always, it’s an emotional thing, right? It appeals to your emotions,” said Fundaro, the owner of Flipside Records. Like so many other small shops business was good – until it wasn’t. A global pandemic and a statewide shutdown took place while Flipside Records has been playing the music – but there’s no one there to listen to it. “We do some online sales but there’s way to possibly make up for the loss of business that we have online,” he said. There is also curbside pick-up. “So you call us up, and we have what you want, and we will give you a total on it,” he said. “You can pull up to the door, we’ll get our masks on, our gloves, get your credit card payment or cash and bring it out.”

Columbia, TN | Shoppers return to Variety Record Shop: After weeks of staying at home, Columbia’s music lovers can return to shopping for classic albums and the latest releases at a locally owned brick and mortar store. Maury County’s Variety Record Shop opened its doors last week after more than a month. It was closed in accordance with a state order to shut all non-essential businesses. “It has been steady,” shop co-owner and celebrated bluesman Scott Holmes said of customer traffic as he sat behind the store’s counter with a butterscotch telecaster in hand after reopening the store. Variety Record Shop reopened just in time for the release of the new album from Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, as it was made available exclusively through independent record stores, pressed on “dreamsicle” orange vinyl. The celebrated singer and songwriter and bandleader called the special release a “thank you for all the support throughout the years.”

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In rotation: 5/15/20

Oxford, MS | In Spite of Pandemic, End of All Music Keeps Spinning: As the retail industry struggles to mitigate the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, some businesses have adapted more easily than others — and one local record store has ramped up efforts to safely serve their customers with some creative shopping options. Since 2012, the record store The End of All Music has been a cultural cornerstone for Oxford, Mississippi. While owner David Swider says he did not structure The End of All Music to be a fulfillment center, he has been strictly adhering to social distancing regulations and has recently been picking, packing and shipping records by himself. “I hate to use this phrase lightly, but we’re kinda too small to fail,” Swider said. “A lot of record stores had to scramble just to get a website up when all this stuff started happening, and I’ve been selling stuff online since we opened in 2012.”

Pittsburgh, PA | Record stores will reopen Friday, but flip quickly: With Allegheny County moving into the yellow phase, record-store browsing will return on Friday, but shoppers will have to flip a little more quickly. The massive Jerry’s Records in Squirrel Hill, which has been closed since mid-March, announced Wednesday night that it will open on Friday with a limit of 10 customers at a time. Masks and social distancing will be required and they ask that you limit your shopping to 30 minutes. The owners suggest that weekdays will be better for those who want to avoid lines and maybe buy a little more time. The Attic in Millvale is also opening Friday and is urging customers to make an appointment for a half-hour shopping slot, beginning at 10 a.m. Shoppers with an appointment will get priority, but others are welcome to visit the store and hope for an opening. The Government Center on the North Side, which was been doing curbside pickup, will begin allowing four people in the store, including employees. It will also be allowing shoppers to make an appointment.

Loveland, OH | Curbside Pick Up Is back at Plaid Room Records/ Colemine Records in Historic Downtown Loveland: “We’re happy to announce that we will be starting curbside pick up again today,” said Terry Cole a co-owner of Plaid Room Records and Colemine Records in Historic Downtown Loveland. Cole said customers can simply call the shop with their name and order number and, “One of us will run it out to you.” The record store has been fulfilling on-line orders but now wish to better serve customers with curbside pick-up also. Cole said to his customers, “Thanks for your patience while we slowly start to ramp up our employee’s hours again during this strange time for all of us. And thanks for all of the online orders! It’s been all we can do to keep up with them! We love you!

Valletta, MT | MP3s worse than COVID-19 for world’s ‘oldest’ record store in Valletta: Valletta’s D’Amato Records on surviving the pandemic. It had to be the coronavirus to temporarily close a 135-year-old record store that did not even stop trading when Malta was blitzed during World War II and also survived the Spanish flu. But D’Amato Records, dubbed the world’s oldest, has been through much worse than COVID-19 and was probably hardest hit by the outbreak of the MP3, which still did not threaten its survival, says third-generation owner Anthony D’Amato. Even then, despite tough decisions and the closure of shops, not for a second did they think it was game over; and that would explain D’Amato’s resilience in the face of today’s scenario. Vinyl proceeded to pick up in a big way. And the bad days for record stores are over. “But we did not have a clue they would be,” he admits. “Back then, we did not know what the future held. With the pandemic, we can at least make future predictions. We can foretell the worst-case scenario; we know tourists will return and that we do not have to rebuild a whole city.”

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In rotation: 5/14/20

Madison, WI | Vinyl Cave: Record Store Day and local store updates: Love it or hate it (opinions vary widely), for inveterate music collectors the mid-April perch of Record Store Day has become an “opening day” of sorts for crate-digging season. The annual St. Vincent de Paul collectible record sale typically takes place just after Record Store Day, and early season rummage sales usually take place by then as well. But in 2020, nothing has proceeded as usual. Record Store Day was supposed to happen on April 18, but with much of the world trying to self-quarantine, the date was moved back to June 20. The St. Vinny’s sale also was postponed; Willy Street store manager Genève Friede writes via email that new dates for this year’s sale are currently being worked out. It doesn’t seem as if large crowds gathering in tight spaces will be a great idea in June, either, so the original replacement date for Record Store Day has already been canceled. Plus, there’s the fact that a boatload of albums need to get manufactured and out to stores, and some releases might not have been ready by the June date. The new solution: RSD will move even later in the year, with the current plan to parcel out the releases over three Saturdays, Aug. 29, Sept. 26 and Oct. 24.

UK | Tim Burgess named as ambassador of Love Record Stores Day: The online event is encouraging music fans to support their favourite independent record stores. Tim Burgess has been named as the ambassador of next month’s Love Record Stores Day. Set to take place online on Saturday, June 20, Love Record Stores Day will be held in place of the rearranged Record Store Day 2020 — which has been postponed twice this year due to the coronavirus outbreak — as the latter will now be split over three dates (August 29, September 26 and October 24). Love Record Stores Day is aiming to get music-lovers to support their favourite independent record stores by shopping online on June 20, when exclusive and limited edition vinyl releases from a range of artists and labels will be made available to purchase on the websites of various record stores. Releases from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Caribou, Belle and Sebastian, Beach House, Robyn, New Order, Jungle and John Grant will all be available to buy online on June 20.

Midland, MI | Midland’s new way of shopping: Records at curbside: Radio Wasteland still selling albums. Customers are still shopping at Radio Wasteland Records in Midland but instead of combing through dozens of crates of albums, they are watching for what’s available online, ordering and then picking up their haul at curbside, much like the restaurants do these days. Owner Jim Gleason said people are still eager to find records. “Many tell us since they’re staying at home so much more, they want new music to listen to,” he said. “There’s also a lot to be said about the importance of music to one’s good mental health. Our curbside pickups on Fridays especially have been pretty busy, and we’re finding that as more people find out we’re offering it, the more they’re taking advantage of it.” Gleason said the independent record store, located at 716 George St., also has been shipping records as well – locally, regionally and throughout the state. Curbside pickup is offered during the afternoons on Fridays and Saturdays. And if there is enough demand, he hopes to expand to Thursdays and maybe even Wednesdays over the next couple of weeks.

Denver, CO | Wax Trax, Famous Denver Record Store, Hopes New Website Helps Them Survive Coronavirus: For over 40 years, people have been coming to Wax Trax for their for all their music needs. In all that time, co-owner Duane Davis has never seen his store like this. “This is the most unusual situation we’ve ever had occur,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia. Because of coronavirus, sales are down around 90%. Due to safety concerns, customers aren’t allowed to browse the store’s selection. Wax Trax has had a website for some time, but never sold music on it. Duane and co-owner Dave Stidman knew they had to adapt to survive, but they needed help. “The other owner and I are pretty much old school. So computers are a little bit of a mystery to us,” Davis told CBS4. Luckily, Stidman’s son, Pete, recently moved back to town and has been helping post their inventory online. Slowly but surely they’ve continued to make progress. “It is time consuming but it has been gratifying to see, putting some of those oddball items up really gets people’s attention,” Davis told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

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In rotation: 5/13/20

UK | Record Store Day’s Megan Page on the bold new plan for the 2020 vinyl celebration: “…It’s just trying to keep it in bite-sized chunks, which makes it manageable for everyone. In four to eight months’ time, we just don’t really know what the world is going look like, if we’re still going to have staff off sick or people being furloughed. So, keeping it small and often seemed like the sensible route to go down… “The decision was made in consultation with pretty much every single person and every country involved in Record Store Day. This is led by the global Record Store Day coordinators in the US. But we’ve also discussed it at length and agreed it with the ERA independent board, we’ve polled the ERA membership, we’ve liaised with the contributing record labels and distributors to try and find what is the most workable solution. I think there’s an agreement that it’s not perfect, and there’s not an ideal solution that suits absolutely everyone. But we’ve had to find the solution that we think causes the least amount of damage and supports the most amount of people who are involved in it globally.”

Minneapolis, MN | Dead Media record store is closing permanently: Dead Media, the distinctive secondhand record, tape, and book seller that became a community hub in south Minneapolis, is closing its store permanently at the end of May. The shop, which like other Minnesota retailers had its business disrupted by the state’s stay-at-home order, announced its farewell this morning on its Facebook page. “We have made a family here and we will always have this place in our hearts because we made a family in the good times and bad,” the post reads. “We seriously can’t thank them enough for spending time with us.” Dead Media was opened in 2014 by record dealer John Kass, poet/musician Paul Dickinson, and poster dealer Paul “Pash” Pashibin. Originally situated in Seward, across the street from Birchwood, the store later found a locale more compatible with its vibe on E. 35th St. just east of Cedar Avenue, not quite kitty corner from Matt’s Bar. In addition to offering a sharply chosen selection of used (if not quite dead) media, the store also hosted live performances, including an always top-notch Record Store Day lineup. The store will continue selling online through its Discogs account.

WI | Small business owners say Wisconsin reopening order is a lifeline: Gov. Tony Evers lifted closures for about 14,000 businesses on Monday. …Tom Unterberger, owner of Globe News card shop and record store in Superior, said he was “pleasantly shocked” at the news he could reopen. “I’ve been in this place for 37 years and this has been the most bizarre two months I’ve ever experienced,” he said Monday afternoon. “We’ll have plexiglass shields and employees wearing gloves. I think people will be able to maintain distance.” Nice weather could draw window shoppers across state borders this weekend, though Mary Claire Olson Potter, president of Hudson’s Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber doesn’t encourage Minnesotans to violate Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order, which lasts through May 18.

UK | Gearbox Records launches ‘for the love of indies’ campaign to support UK record shops: Gearbox – which has released acclaimed albums by artists as diverse as Tubby Hayes, Abdullah Ibrahim, Binker & Moses and Thelonius Monk – says it has been inspired by a worldwide community-driven response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and wants to see mutual aid across the indie label and retail community. Until 5 June, the label is donating 20% of the proceeds from its online sales to UK indie record stores; and offering its full catalogue at a further 20% discount (in addition to standard file discount) to all UK independent stores on orders placed through its distribution partner, The Orchard. If the initiative is successful, it will be extended. Gearbox Records’ commercial director Justin James, leading the initiative, explained: “Bricks and mortar Indie stores, always vulnerable to multiple challenges, must survive. They’re the lifeblood of the music industry. This is one way of showing solidarity.

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In rotation: 5/12/20

Seattle, WA | ‘A Strange Feeling’: Owner Of Seattle’s Bop Street Records Reflects On Closing Shop After 30 Years: Visiting a good record store is a one-of-a-kind experience: the exploration and discovery, the smell of thousands of records, the feeling of touching a vinyl record. For over 30 years, music lovers flocked to Seattle’s Bop Street Records — but now the home of 500,000 records will close its doors at the end of June. Driven to an early retirement by the COVID-19 outbreak, owner and record collector Dave Voorhees says moving on from his routine of putting up the open sign and turning on the music feels “surreal.” “It’s going to be a strange feeling when I look in this location and it’s empty,” he says. “It’s going to be weird. It may not have actually struck me yet.” Once one of the top five record stores in the nation, Bop Street Records opened in 1979 and settled in the neighborhood of Ballard in 1984. Now, he plans to continue selling records online.

CA | California Allows Record Stores to Reopen — With Conditions, Of Course: As part of its plan to gradually lift COVID-19 restrictions, California is allowing record stores to reopen. However, government officials have laid out bolstered sanitization protocols and health-oriented guidelines for business owners, their employees, and customers. Business owners are directed to these measures through California’s “Resilience Roadmap” webpage. Per the entry, the state has entered Stage 2 of the roadmap, which calls for the measured reopening of “retail, manufacturing, and logistics” businesses, before schools, offices, and child-care facilities take steps to resume normal operations. (Significantly, Stage 3 of the roadmap centers on the reopening of “higher-risk workplaces,” while Stage 4, labeled “End of Stay at Home Order,” revolves around reopening “areas of highest risk: e.g. Concerts, conventions, sports arenas.”) The State of California has broken down its Stage 2 reopening and operational recommendations by professional sphere, and record store owners’ responsibilities are highlighted within the retail-sector section. The state’s “Industry Guidance” document requests that businesses craft a “written, worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan,” besides educating employees on the plan’s contents and the nature of COVID-19.

Bartlett, TN | Memphis Record Pressing back in business after coronavirus closure: The sound and sight of a needle touching a spinning record is one indication Memphis Record Pressing (MRP) is back in business. The pressing machines were humming Thursday, and the company’s almost 150 employees like Brian Nickol were once again putting their spin on vinyl. The company had to close for almost five weeks during the COVID-19 outbreak. “It’s been challenging; going a little stir crazy,” Nickol said. Still, Nickol considers himself one of the lucky ones. “No, I did alright, fortunately, because MRP was able to cover us during the closure—my bills were paid,” Nickol said. “Financially, it’s been challenging, as it has been for other businesses,” MRP CEO Brandon Seavers said. “Fortunately for us, we had a cash reserve that allowed us to keep all of our people on payroll. We care for our people, so we decided to keep them on staff for the full extent of the closure, which was over five weeks.” What’s helped MRP survive is the resurgence of vinyl records and the global demand for the sound quality that many say is superior to CDs or digital streaming.

‘This Is a Whole New World’: Record Labels Are Designing Marketing Strategies From Scratch: The pandemic has forced labels into increasingly experimental tactics for album marketing. “Necessity is the mother of invention in this case,” an Epic Records executive says. Since the pandemic began, every record labels’ marketing team has been throwing around the same buzzword phrase: “getting creative.” Traditional album marketing tactics like touring — which is essential for developing artists who need to build up a new audience and strengthen relationships with their existing fanbase — have gone by the wayside. Livestreaming, now that the lockdown has stretched two months, is oversaturated with artists small and large. With the physical world more or less off limits, artists and labels are trying to find new ways to cut through the noise and design online experiences that stand out. Some digital strategies have been fairly straightforward: Labels that were invested in marketing tactics on TikTok have upped their game recently, as the platform is enjoying record popularity with over 300 million downloads in the first quarter of 2020. Others are experimenting with having artists do intimate Instagram Live sessions — and another group is bent on launching more ambitious virtual performances.

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In rotation: 5/11/20

Denver, CO | Here’s How Denver Record Stores Are Reopening for Business: On Thursday, May 7, the folks at Twist & Shout turned on the record store’s phones for the first time in nearly two months. Owner Paul Epstein says it started ringing immediately, with customers wanting to order music for curbside orders, which the store will start taking on Monday, May 11. “My feeling is people are hungry for something normal again,” he says. “We can’t give them normal yet. You’re going to have to wait and work with us on this fear. We’re all going have to kind of crawl our way back and figure out what normal is again.” Epstein says he’s not exactly sure when Twist & Shout will let customers inside the store, but he’ll be looking hard at science and medicine and talking to his employees. “We’re going to be super slow, super careful and make sure everything works before we do it,” he says. “We’re not going to just throw stuff at the wall and see what happens.”

San Diego, CA | Legendary San Diego Record Shop Reopens For Socially-Distanced Crate-Digging: The music is back on outside Folk Arts Rare Records after almost two months closed. The record shop has served San Diego in various locations for over fifty years. But the record-buying experience, usually marked by crate-digging for that rare classic, is not quite in line with social distancing guidelines handed down by the state. So owner Brendan Boyle has devised a new way for shoppers to browse. “We can’t have people inside the store, not yet, so everything is visual. We’re trying to recreate the experience of being in the store, but doing it on the outside of the window here and doing it in a very safe manner,” he explained. This intrepid reporter was looking for a soul record on this May gray afternoon, as Boyle held up records to choose from. “If you want to stop at anytime and talk about a record, just say. ‘Hey what’s that?’” he told me as he held up LP after LP.

Santa Monica, CA | Curbside Pickup Now at Record Surplus: We’re happy to let you know that starting May 8th you may pickup curbside from Record Surplus. This news comes after we’ve been closed for the past seven weeks due to the coronavirus shutdown orders from the City of Los Angeles. The City has begun to lift some restrictions, and now we are permitted to offer curbside pickups. The City of L.A. is not yet allowing record shops to have customers inside their stores. But here are several ways you may shop at Record Surplus right now. …You can have your order shipped to you, or you may choose to pick it up curbside. Please contact us and be sure to confirm when you may pickup. We have over 100,000 Vinyl Records and CDs in the store, and look forward to helping you find new music you will love! Get rock, jazz, hip hop, soul, blues, classical, international, latin, reggae, oldies, country, soundtracks and more!

Winnipeg, CA | Record Sales: Osborne Village record store enjoying steady business since reopening: Love music and hip fits? Sad about event cancellations this spring and summer? Fear not. Urban Waves and Old Gold Vintage Vinyl have everything you need to beat-down the COVID-19 blues. For 30 years, the Osborne Village store has been selling “whimsical t-shirts, sunglasses, body jewelry, fresh doodads” – and most recently stacks of awesome records. After being closed during the pandemic shutdown, the store has been reopened for several days, and is enjoying steady business. Co-owner Brent Jackson said the shop might not have survived more time in lockdown. “Four months at the most,” he said. “We rely on a lot of foot traffic and locals walking in the door for hand to hand business. And then when we were ordered to close – we don’t really sell anything online – so we were facing a big, scary problem. This has been a traumatic experience.”

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Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores for
May 2020, Part Three

Part three of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for May, 2020. Part one is here and part two is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Michael Thomas, Event Horizon (Giant Step Arts) Sometimes, the label releasing a record can serve as a doorway to more music of a similar stripe, or if not in the same style, than just stand as a signifier of quality. For obvious reasons, this scenario is now almost exclusive to independent labels as the big companies have long been predominantly profit driven. Well, Giant Step Arts, the label started by noted photographer Jimmy Katz, isn’t obsessed with profit. In Katz’s words, the label doesn’t even sell any music, but rather strives “to help musicians make bold artistic statements and to advance their careers.” In addition to premiering performances, recording them, and compensating the artists, once a project is complete, 700 compact discs (the complete run) and downloads are given to the leader of the session, who importantly retains ownership of the masters. Giant Step Arts also provides promo photos, videos and PR for the release.

If this reads more like a philanthropic concern than a label in a traditional sense, well yes and no; as insinuated by the name of the label, Katz wants those invited to create masterpiece-level work. This entails dedication that isn’t synonymous with prolificacy, with this set from Grammy-winning saxophonist Michael Thomas only the fourth Giant Step Arts release since 2018. For the recording, Thomas assembled a quartet featuring trumpeter Jason Palmer (leader of Giant Step Arts 001, Rhyme and Reason), double bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Johnathan Blake (leader of GSA 002, Trion, and the drummer for GSA 003, saxophonist Eric Alexander’s Leaf of Faith). The results, spanning across two discs (all of the Giant Step Arts releases except Alexander’s single disc are 2CD sets), do rise to the level of masterpiece. Notably, it’s a live performance, a setting absolutely essential to the jazz idiom.

Now, studio recordings are also crucial, with two of Katz’s models for Giant Step Arts being Miles’ Kind of Blue and Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. But in promoting works unveiled on a live stage, there seems to be a simultaneous desire to elude the pressures, stresses and obsessiveness that can undermine studio recordings made within or outside of current commercial settings (the mersh settings that produced Blue and Supreme don’t really exist anymore). In short: work your asses off in prep, but then get on the bandstand and let it fly. Thomas and his crew do just that, exploring eight of the saxophonist’s compositions (plus solos intros for bass, sax, and drums) in an elevated manner (through the strength of familiarity) that’s truly searching while never straying that far from the richness of jazz in its classic Modern mode. That is, Event Horizon isn’t warmed-over turkey, not for a second, as its creators make abundantly clear that brilliance bursting forth from established jazz traditions is still a possibility. A

Matt Evans, New Topographics (Whatever’s Clever) Amongst drummer-composer Evans’ credits is Man Forever, the band-project of esteemed drummer John Colpitts, but this release of synthetic-acoustic ambient-drone-experimentation is a distinct beast, recorded in December of 2018 during a month-long residency at Brooklyn art space Pioneer Works. It is the byproduct of an extended immersion into the musical possibilities of “hyperobjects,” which professor-philosopher Timothy Morton defines as “objects so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend spatiotemporal specificity,” e.g. “global warming, styrofoam, and the internet.” Here, the engagement with hyperobjects gathers the sound of ringing bells, rips, rattles, hums, buzzes, clinks, clanks, and importantly, a writing utensil at work.

Crucial to the record are assorted transcriptions by Evans of the Richard Brautigan poem “All watched over by machines of loving grace,” first written by Evans by hand (and heard as such in “Cold Moon” and “New Moon”) but also imagined as a musical language and translated into braille and Morse code and utilizing radioteletype; these transcriptions became the guiding process for nearly every track on New Topographics. Now, if this reads as academically dry, that’s not my experience, as parts of this reminded me of Hassell’s fourth world stuff, with melodies a natural part of the scheme and unsurprisingly, rhythms even more frequent. Available on CD and cassette with cover art by the recently deceased Devra Freelander; this album and Ben Seretan’s Youth Pastoral (reviewed below) are dedicated to her memory. A-

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In rotation: 5/8/20

Vancouver, BC | Red Cat Records’ Hastings-Sunrise store closes permanently: Red Cat Records’ second location, on East Hastings Street, has closed permanently. The popular independent retailer, which opened at 2447 East Hastings Street in September 2016, sold new and used vinyl records and related merchandise, as well as local concert tickets. In a notice posted on its Instagram account on May 2, the store blamed the coronavirus-pandemic closure and the end of its lease at that location for the shuttering. “It’s with a heavy heart that we have to announce our decision to close our second location at Hastings & Nanaimo,” the note reads. “It’s been a great five years, but given current events & that our lease is ending we need to consolidate to just one store.” Red Cat opened its original store at 4332 Main Street in 2002. The decision to open another location was a bit of a gamble at the time, as no Vancouver independent record store had ever successfully expanded since the glory days of downtown retail record sales on and around Seymour Street, known then as Record Row.

Minneapolis, MN | Kingfield record shop hits the road: Roadrunner Records is leaving its longtime home, but it won’t be hard for regulars to find. The store, which opened at 43rd & Nicollet in 1986, will relocate two blocks south to 4534 Nicollet Ave. Ideally, the store will open for business around June 1, though with the coronavirus pandemic it’s hard to say for sure, according to shop owner John Beggs. “The best thing for us is it was affordable and close,” he said. Beggs bought Roadrunner Records in 1999 from original owner Todd Adams. The shop grew and shrunk over the years with trends in the economy and the record business. The situation at 4304 Nicollet Ave. was always a bit informal, and often Roadrunner had no official lease and an affordable rent. The building, which also housed recently closed Midwest Cycle Supply, was sold last summer and Beggs began to look for a new space. “I never considered this place mine,” he said. The new location will be. The Beggs family bought the building at 45th & Nicollet and are in the process of renovating it. The Minneapolis Planning Commission approved a zoning change allowing the store to operate there last month.

Melbourne, AU | New record store drama series, Mint Condition, streaming from today: If you’ve already burned through all the music-related stuff on Netflix and Stan during lockdown, boy do we have news for you. Mint Condition, a new short Aussie drama series set in a Fitzroy record store, is available to stream from today. The show stars Sibylla Budd (The Secret Life of Us) as Audrey, a single mum who opens a record store. Mint Condition follows Audrey as she navigates dysfunctional family life, washed-up rocker Vince Taylor and her love for vinyl. The series co-stars Gary Sweet (House Husbands), Bernard Curry (Wentworth), Damien Richardson (Neighbours) and newcomer Grace Champion. Best of all, Mint Condition features original music from a handful of Melbourne’s best indie bands. The soundtrack includes #1 Dads, Romeo Moon, Cold Gold, Astral Skulls and many more. “We want the audience to really love the diversity of these great songs and get a good feel for the live music scene and the music community that we have in Melbourne,” co-producer and music supervisor, Lyndelle Wilkinson, said in a statement.

Wales, UK | What it’s like to run your own business in the middle of lockdown: Business owners from across Wales have spoken of the impact coronavirus has had on them. …Matt Davies, 39, shut his three record shops shortly before the Government lockdown – just having just opened a new shop in Swansea. The business owner from Barry said: “Obviously the immediate impact is the shops are shut and that’s 80% of my revenue but I have carried on doing stuff online. Unfortunately my website isn’t active as a shop but I’m trying to get up to speed with that. I didn’t initially ship out online because I wasn’t comfortable putting post workers at risk, I love records but I don’t believe they are classed as essential products but orders started backing up so I started posting out. “I have got a little bit of income and I’ve received some support from the rates based grant so I can pay my suppliers. I’ve furloughed my staff so they’re given 80% of their wages so they’re being kept with some income. “The shop was in reasonable health when I went into it so once the stock is paid I shouldn’t be too bad. To be honest I’ve been using the time I wouldn’t usually get to do things at home and with the business. I have been posting more content online and trying to engage people and I’ve learned to adapt really and trying to draw more people in.

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In rotation: 5/7/20

SG | Bandwagon’s Guide to Vinyl Shopping in Singapore: Death of CDs, eh? There have been articles left and right springing up about how physical CD sales have been in the decline for the past few years and how everyone’s going digital. Not just digital though, seems like streaming may just be the common music consumption of the future. Not every artist agrees with that, but we’ve saved that for another piece. Despite the apparent lack in demand for plastic circular objects, another kind of circular object has been on the rise. The ones that have been around even during the time of your grandparents. Yes, we’re talking about vinyl. We’ve been proponents of the format for a long time and we’re happy to see that it has indeed been taking off. We may be picky semi-audiophiles but vinyl isn’t just about the sound quality. We’re pure suckers for gorgeous packaging and nothing else excites more than listening to an album back to front, without the intrusion of…well, anything else.

HK | Hong Kong 2nd Hand Vinyl Records to close down in 2 months: Sadly, HONG KONG 2nd HAND VINYL Records will be closing down within 2 months. From 1st May 2020 until they close there will be a 30% off all items. So for those that would like to add a couple more additions to your record collection, do go and visit them before the two months is up. Or if you want to start putting together a collection, why not start now. We have a nice collection in our office, so plan to go over and see what else we can find. Where are they located? Room W1A, 1/F, Phase 1, Kwun Tong Industrial Centre, Kwun Tong.

Sonoma County, CA | Another group of Sonoma County retailers expected to get clearance for partial reopening: By the end of the week, another wave of Sonoma County retail that’s been dormant since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, will slowly come back to life. …Retail operators, of course, were elated by the news, but said allowing them soon to reopen their stores for customers is the only thing that can keep them alive over the long haul. “It can’t come soon enough. We’re dying. I call it starvation in place,” said Michael “Hoyt” Wilhelm, co-owner of The Last Record Store on Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa. “We are a very tactile business. People got to come in and look at the stuff and see it. … It’s really something that you can’t do effectively over the internet.” Online sales represent just 2% of the overall revenue for the popular store for music fans. Wilhelm said in-person shopping needs to come as quickly as possible to keep the vinyl record shop afloat after almost 50 days in the dark. Asked how much longer his shop could survive without a full reopening, Wilhelm said: “I don’t even want to think about it.”

Phoenix, AZ | An Update on Valley Record Stores: It hasn’t been a good week for vinyl collectors in Phoenix. On April 29, the organization behind Record Store Day decided to divide up the event into three monthly “drops” starting on August 29, as a way for participating stores to sell the exclusive vinyl releases typically introduced during the yearly celebration while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Per a statement, this “gives the largest number of stores a chance to participate in the strangest Record Store Day ever, following their local mandates, and using the guidance of government and scientific experts to make these RSD Drop dates as socially responsible as possible.” The event is typically held every year in April, which is “the third-highest [sales week] on record for vinyl since [they] began tracking the format in 1991” according to a report from Nielsen Music. Organizers first moved Record Store Day to June 20 as the coronavirus pandemic saw stores shutting their doors and moving to curbside pickup and online-only sales. The hope is that by doing RSD Drops, cash-strapped independent stores can see some much-needed revenue come in.

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In rotation: 5/6/20

Knoxville, TN | “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Anonymous donor pays rent for local record store: The owners of Lost and Found Records said the unexpected donation helps more than the anonymous donor may realize. Lost and Found Records in North Knoxville found some unexpected community support Thursday when an anonymous donor paid off the store’s rent for May. The owner, Maria Armstrong, was working late April 30 when she got a text message. It said that she wouldn’t have to worry about rent for May. At first, she didn’t know who the message was from. The person revealed themselves as her landlord, Linda Fisher, and said that she couldn’t tell Armstrong who paid her rent. Fisher is part of the Fisher family that owns nearby Fisher Tire. “She said, ‘All I can tell you is that you have a lot of people that love you and love your store,'” Armstrong said. “I said that she had to tell me who it was, and all she could say was, ‘I am sworn to secrecy.'” Fisher said it wasn’t her, and so Armstrong wrote a Facebook post on Lost and Found Records’ page to thank the anonymous donor. She said she wanted to thank the person from the bottom of her heart, and that the donation helped more than she could describe.

Toronto, CA | Microforum Vinyl LP Plant Adds PPE Assembly: Three years ago, FYI profiled Microforum Vinyl, a Toronto-based company that had just entered the vinyl pressing business. Like so many firms these days, the current covid-19 pandemic is affecting its operation, but Microforum is responding in a very positive fashion by re-tooling some of its machinery to make PVC PPE (personal protection equipment) face shields for medical and other essential businesses. Company VP Noble Musa explained the situation to FYI, noting that “we have been impacted hugely in our day to day operations by the pandemic. We know our customers in the music industry have been hugely impacted too, since a lot of the vinyl we press is for artists and bands for their tours, gigs, festivals…and to boot, with the bricks & mortar record stores shut too, like so many others we have to wait until the fog lifts.”

Lockdown and hi-fi/home theater systems (part 2): looking after and organizing your vinyl collection: Spending time at home, during the current lockdown for example, provides us with the perfect opportunity to tackle all the tasks we tend to put off. Organizing and tidying are at the top of this list; it isn’t uncommon to put these jobs off until next weekend, then the weekend after, and the weekend after that… The lockdown therefore seems like a good time to give your record collection a new lease of life. Reorganizing your records, cleaning and protecting them: we’re going to accompany you throughout this process to make it a pleasant and productive way to pass the time.

Official Lenny Bruce bootleg to be released: Comic used to sell this recording after gigs. A rare recording of groundbreaking stand-up Lenny Bruce is to be released on vinyl for this year’s Record Store Day. Lenny Bruce Is Out Again is an official bootleg, compiled from various gigs between 1958 and 1963. The comedian pressed the original disc himself in 1964 and used to sell it at clubs where he was performing. The new release has been authorised by Lenny’s daughter Kitty, unlike much of the material that has been released since his death in 1966 from a drug overdose. Bruce was known for his bruising conflicts with authority over obscenity laws, fighting for his freedom of speech. Kitty has said: ‘My father’s legacy was that of a freedom fighter for the first amendment therefore he touched every part of modern comedy.’ A limited edition of 1,000 copies of Lenny Bruce Is Out Again will be released to mark Record Store Day in the US on June 20, then available online the following weekend.

How to Guide: Spin Doctoring: One of the joys – and the curses – of vinyl is that turntables need careful setting up. If you take the time to do this properly, you can wring far more performance out of your record player than you thought possible. The other side of this is that if you don’t set your deck up correctly, it’s going to sound much worse than it should. The reason for this is that LP records – unlike other music sources – are very much physical storage media. The music is stored as complex undulations of a spiral groove, or to be precise, two spiral grooves – one on each side of a record! Together, the stylus and cartridge form a delicate measuring instrument to measure the deviations of both walls of the groove from a mean position and convert this to two electrical signals. The tonearm’s job is to support this measuring instrument and help it define the mean position in the groove.

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In rotation: 5/5/20

Reno, NV | Nevada Interrupted: Book and record stores turn to curbside pickup as reopening begins, but hard to replicate browsing experience: Many Nevadans are adjusting to the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, stocking up on supplies and staying at home. The Nevada Independent is sharing their stories each day. If you are a Nevada business owner or worker whose job has been upended by the coronavirus, we would love to feature your story. Send an email to [email protected] for consideration. Kyle Howell, an owner of Recycled Records in Reno’s Midtown, and Zoe Miller, the owner of Grassroots Books not far from the Reno airport, are familiar with financial stress. “We’ve been held together with string, duct tape, and debt,” Miller said about Grassroots Books, which she opened in Reno more than 10 years ago. In Recycled Records’ 42 years of existence and in the last year and a half that he has owned it, Howell said that the store endured road construction, location changes and a variety of owners. “We’re survivors,” he said.

Toronto, CA | Former e-commerce holdout Sonic Boom builds a music community online: The Toronto record shop is now selling over 25,000 records online and has launched a virtual in-store live music series. For 20 years, Sonic Boom resisted going online. Owner Jeff Barber changed his mind just in time. If you’ve ever been to the Toronto record store – at its original location on Bloor, then inside Honest Ed’s and now on Spadina – you can probably picture people flipping through wide stacks of used CDs and vinyl. The shop is a sprawling testament to physical media. “I always wanted to put our efforts into the brick-and-mortar store because that is what record shopping is all about as far as I’m concerned,” says Barber over the phone. “We didn’t want to deplete the good stuff from our stock of used records – that’s for our shoppers to come in and find.” About six months ago, Barber finally decided to start selling online to expand business to record enthusiasts outside Toronto. Sonic Boom launched an e-commerce site just two weeks before the province ordered stores to shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Bandcamp’s monthly initiative is becoming the new Record Store Day: The music platform is lifting its revenue share on the first Friday of every month – and now labels and musicians are putting out exclusive releases and deals. What started as a one-time initiative to help struggling artists who’d lost their whole live music revenue stream is now a monthly event – starting tomorrow (May 1), on the first of every month online music sales platform Bandcamp will waive its revenue share and give 100 percent of sales to artists. It’s a way to put money directly into the hands of artists without relying on royalty payouts from streaming services. And now labels and musicians are starting to put out special releases, arrange donations and merch specifically for the day. In a way, it’s a socially distant version of Record Store Day how it was originally intended – a way to support music sales and put exclusive and rare music into the hands of listeners. It just needs a catchy name.

Bozeman, MT | Wax Museum: New record store opens on Bozeman’s north side: After years of working in record stores around the nation, Kels Koch has come back to his Montana roots to open The Wax Museum in Bozeman, a record shop on the north of town specializing in used records and good company. “I want to have a place where the real music freaks of Bozeman can come and just focus on music and have it be kind of a cultural, social meeting place,” he said. “I want to definitely have a lot of really good inexpensive used vinyl … If someone walks in with a $20 bill, they can walk out with four or five records that they’re really going to dig.” The Wax Museum opened last Monday and, despite COVID-19, he said it was a good day for the new business. “I really didn’t know what it was going to be like,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was shooting myself in the foot … I was pleasantly surprised.” Koch grew up in Billings and went to college at Montana State in the mid-1980s when he played in local bands like The Beat Nothings, DJ’d on KGLT and was a devout Cactus Records customer. He worked at record shops and played in bands in Seattle, Austin and Nashville in the 90s and, at the end of the decade, briefly moved back to Bozeman with the intention of opening a record shop.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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