In rotation: 4/2/20

Record Companies Aren’t Safe From the Coronavirus Economic Fallout: If early data from Italy’s music market is anything to go by, music companies won’t be as insulated from coronavirus’ effect on the markets as they may hope. Earlier this month, I wrote that music-rights companies — not least Warner Music Group — could end up as attractive prospects for stock-market investors, as they would be largely insulated from the economic effects of coronavirus. (Warner announced its intention to IPO in February, but is now postponing that event.) Last week, the U.K.’s Hipgnosis Songs Fund — whose business model is to acquire and manage the copyrights behind hit songs — saw its stock price rebound on the London Stock Exchange to a level actually higher than that seen before COVID-19. In the same period, the average share price of the U.S.’s largest companies, bundled into the S&P 500, fell by more than 25 percent. Yet the performance of companies on public markets isn’t always tied to their underlying strengths and frailties — and the COVID outbreak has caused even further economic chaos in the past few weeks. So for music companies that aren’t purely catalog-focused like Hipgnosis, there may be more pain on the horizon

Nashville, TN | How Taylor Swift Is Helping a Small Nashville Record Store Survive: “This assistance from Ms. Swift helps give us a real shot at coming back on the other side of this,” Grimey’s co-owner Doyle Davis says. Like most small businesses that have had to shut down or alter their operations during the coronavirus pandemic, record stores have been forced to completely change the way they operate. Over the past two weeks, Nashville retailer Grimey’s New & Preloved Music, for example, has had to send its employees home after the city’s mayor issued a stay-at-home order. This week, though, they got a life preserver from Taylor Swift, who is supplying the store with money for each employee and three months’ worth of health care. A source close to the situation confirmed the news to Rolling Stone. “We were very surprised, and I would have to say amazed, that Taylor Swift reached out to us through her publicist to offer some relief during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Grimey’s co-owner Doyle Davis tells Rolling Stone. “I didn’t even know we were on her radar, but she really stepped up to help after the recent tornadoes that struck Nashville and middle Tennessee, and now she’s trying to help a beloved small business in her city.

UK | Record Store of the Day Campaign: In light of the unprecedented challenge currently faced by independent retailers, the UK record business has launched the #recordstoreoftheday campaign to help connect fans with their favourite local stores online. Little compares to the joys of crate digging, swapping music recommendations and catching live shows inside local record stores. Now they have closed their doors to in-person visitors, the music industry is asking you to support these stores online and over the phone. The #recordstoreoftheday campaign will spotlight a different independent record store across the country every single day of the week via the social media accounts @recordstoreotd on Twitter, @recordstoreoftheday on Instagram and through a Record Store of the Day Facebook page. Representing all corners of the music scene — from rock to reggae, indie to electronic — som thirty stores are already lined up to take part. These include Edinburgh’s Underground Solu’shn, Brighton’s Resident Records, Newcastle’s Reflex and London’s Sister Ray.

This new turntable can cut vinyl records: “I hope people will use this machine to create records with their own music or voices.” A new turntable called the Easy Record Maker cuts vinyl records, which can then be played on it. Designed by Yuri Suzuki in collaboration with Japanese company Gakken, the Easy Record Maker comes with 10 5″ inch discs. An audio source can be connected via its aux cable, from which you can “engrave sound directly from the recording stylus,” Suzuki shared. Once cut, you can instantly play the recording the device’s tonearm and built-in speaker, as well as design your own labels and sleeves. “I wanted to create a machine that makes it easy and cheap to create your own bespoke record without pressing a whole batch,” explains Suzuki. “Recording your voice message or your music onto vinyl and sending it to someone feels very special and is more valuable (and long-lasting) than just sending a voice message on WhatsApp.” Suzuki will be presenting a demo of the Easy Record Maker on his Instagram account, Friday 3rd April.

US album sales plummet to a historic low: As stores shutter due to the coronavirus pandemic, overall album sales have dropped to 1.52 million. Last week’s Nielsen Music/MRC Data shows that record sales and digital music—as with the live music space—have nosedived due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sales dropped as many record stores were forced to close their doors (though many shops kept up mail-order where possible). In the week ending March 19th, overall album sales dropped 29 percent to 1.52 million, a number comprising digital, CDs, vinyl LPs, cassettes et al. That’s the lowest overall album sales number since Nielsen/MRC Data began collecting data in 1991, and may be a historic low spanning back to when the LP format became popular in the mid-’60s, Billboard reports. Within the grim outlook, there are several bright spots. Vinyl sales for 2020 are up 42.2 percent year-to-date over 2019. Vinyl now makes up 22.6 percent of all albums sold and 33 percent of the physical market. Streaming, as well, marches on, up 19.7 percent in 2020 after a 29.3 percent jump last year.

MÖTLEY CRÜE: ‘Dr. Feelgood’ 30th-Anniversary Deluxe Edition Box Set Due In April: According to Townsend Music, the 30th-anniversary deluxe-edition box set of MÖTLEY CRÜE’s “Dr. Feelgood” album will be made available on April 10. 2019 saw not only the release of MÖTLEY CRÜE’s critically acclaimed biopic “The Dirt”, but also marked the 30th anniversary of “Dr. Feelgood”. Celebrating the legacy of the most notorious rock band of all time, this reissue will be available in a deluxe box set edition that contains a green vinyl LP, digipak CD, three seven-inch picture discs, a coke bottle, deck of cards, prescription notepad, drumstick pens, pins, guitar picks and band aids, all housed inside a leatherette satchel. With charting hit singles including “Dr. Feelgood”, “Kickstart My Heart”, “Without You”, “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” and “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)”, the LP has been the band’s biggest album to date.

Frank Ocean Debuts “Dear April” & “Cayendo” Singles On Vinyl: Frank Ocean officially released his songs “Cayendo” and “Dear April” on vinyl, previously previewed at his PrEP+ night club, with remixes from Sango and Justice. Frank Ocean previewed two new songs—”Cayendo” and “Dear April”—during his PrEP+ club night back in October, and now, those tracks have finally been released to the public. Shortly after Frank gave attendees of the surprise event in NYC a taste of his new music, he listed both songs for pre-order as 7” vinyl singles, and it looks like, 6 months later, fans are finally receiving their much-awaited purchases. Each record features an acoustic version of the given track on the A-side, with the Sango and Justice remixes that were also teased at the PrEP+ party on the B-side. Leaks of the songs have already begun surfacing online, as fans eagerly recorded their spinning turntables to share the magic of Frank Ocean with the rest of us. According to a Frank Ocean archive account on Twitter with the handle @blondedblog, each single comes with a digital download card, so there’s a chance the tunes will be more widely available for streaming.

Glasgow, UK | The vinyl countdown – collaborations are key on Olive Grove’s Archipelago: Record Store Day may have been postponed until June, but for some every day is a celebration of vinyl. That’s why Glasgow-based label Olive Grove have over the past months periodically released their Archipelago series – three beautiful 12” split EPs with the final instalment just out. The latest instalment contains music from perhaps the best-known artists in the series, at least in underground terms – neither Henry and Fleetwood or Circle Meets Dot are household names, but that’s deliberate. “I’m taking Olive Grove back to the way it was supposed to be at the start,” says owner Lloyd Meredith. “I’d lost the way of that I suppose, the idea was always to make the label a stepping stone for bands to move on to something bigger.” More recently the label has put out releases by familiar names on the Scottish scene, such as Randolph’s Leap and Scottish Album of the Year shortlistee Carla J Easton (who recommended two of the bands for the new series).

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