In rotation: 2/19/21

Nearly 12 million records sold on Discogs in 2020: With over 140 million items added to people’s collections. Discogs has released its end of year report for 2020, with vinyl sales reaching record highs during the period. Despite the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 saw substantial growth in vinyl sales globally, and Discogs was no exception. A reported 16,290,197 items were sold on site — an increase of 40.12% over the previous year, with vinyl sales accounting for 73.4% of all sales. Vinyl was the most popular physical format on site, with 11,961,998 records sold in 2020. The platform also saw 140,189,018 items added to collections in 2020, fuelled by global Coronavirus lockdowns, and more time spent at home.

Ontario, CA | ‘Reopening is more than just slapping an open sign on the door.’ Sudbury-areal businesses continue to grapple with the unpredictability of the pandemic post-lockdown. Eight weeks to the day the Ontario government announced the second provincial lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, non-essential businesses were permitted to open in the Sudbury district. The stay-at-home order lifted on Tuesday, and Public Health Sudbury and Districts’ service area was moved into the orange zone of the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework. Most businesses, including gyms, clothing stores and cinemas, were allowed to re-open with public health protocols in place, including reduced capacities and other restrictions. Weathering the storm of a second provincial lockdown, however, has been challenging and local businesses are doing their best to stay afloat. “You have to remain hopeful. You have to be looking forward to the future and planning, but with the pandemic, we’re dealing with a level of unpredictability that makes that really hard,” said Beth Mairs, lead programmer at Sudbury Indie Cinema.

Red Hook, NY | The Record Shop is perfectly Red Hook, by Gene Bray: You see a permanent bench in front of a bizarre looking sculpture of guitars. A Sculpture-like apparition that might be unwelcome in some neighborhoods. It’s clear that anybody is welcome to sit at this crazy lookin spot. Anytime. At dawn there is usually all kinds of free stuff on it. By noon chairs appear. This is a place to relax a while with others… And of course, the records. Hundreds of albums are displayed in huge wooden racks. And 45s. A record is always playin on 1 of the two turntables in the window. Never loud though. Background music. You can hear it on the sidewalk out front too; also at the same low volume.. Don’t worry, it’s loud enough. These turntable sounds are free to anyone passing by. And it hits em right between the eyes. Impromptu dancing is always breaking out. Inside and on the sidewalk. One day I saw an older lady dancing in front of the shop. Gracefully, effortlessly, sensuously moving to a Salsa beat.

Manchester, UK | A new bar, bakery, record store and cafe hybrid is heading to Altrincham: It started life in a caravan but is moving on up. Altrincham is set to welcome a new cafe-bar with a record store and bakery inside after lockdown. The hybrid venue comes from local independent record label Stutter & Twitch, who have been operating a coffee shop out of a caravan since last summer. The new permanent site will serve craft beer, cocktails and wine alongside its artisan coffee as soon as restrictions allow. The unit at Stamford Square will play host to live music from local artists and DJs. It will also be home to a small record store, and a mini bakery churning out baked goods to be stocked and sold from the caravan, which will remain in place. Stutter and Twitch’s expansion comes in partnership with Bruntwood Works and Trafford Council, and is part of a wider plan to transform Altrincham’s Stamford Quarter. The plan includes creating a community-focused public square at Stamford Square, where Stutter & Twitch are building their new home. The site will be ready this March, but will open as soon as restrictions allow.

Fairfax, VA | Record stores may see better days post-pandemic: Businesses great and small have had to adapt to the new world that has come with the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. They’ve had to adapt to stay alive and for most it’s been a painful and uncertain process. One type of business that was considered an endangered species for a long time before the pandemic may actually see better days at the end of the tunnel. Mobius Records has been open at their location at 10409 Main Street in Fairfax since they first opened in August 2014. Like other businesses they’ve had to change how they do business, operating hours have shortened, curbside service is now the norm as with every other retail store, they’ve limited how many customers can be in the store at the same time, and they’ve even shifted their inventory to a 24-hour online store. “We’ve gone from being a hangout where people can come and browse and talk about music to having to adjust our hours, having two to three people on staff, and on weekends having long lines at the door. It’s been a whole new dynamic in the last 10 months.” says Mobius Records owner Dempsey Hamilton.

McDonald’s offering vinyl record in limited Crispy Chicken Sandwich merch bundle: The fast food chicken sandwich war is very real. In this hyper-competitive market, McDonald’s has launched a special promotion in tandem with its new Crispy Chicken Sandwich that includes a 7″ vinyl record as part of a limited-edition $5 capsule. In the mix competing for money and hungry mouths are quick-serve chains Popeyes, KFC and Chick-fil-A, to name the big players. McDonald’s will officially launch their latest menu item on Feb. 24, but the $5 merch capsule affords customers exclusive early access to the Crispy Chicken Sandwich with a coupon that can be used to redeem the sandwich one day early on Feb. 23. The CHKNDrop merch bundle also comes with a hooded sweatshirt as well as a 7″ vinyl record featuring a song produced by Tay Keith. The Tennessee-based hip-hop producer is perhaps best known for working with rapper Travis Scott on his song “Sicko Mode,” which was featured as part of a previous McDonald’s collaborative pop culture marketing plan.

Prague, CZ | Pandemic blues fuel record sales for Czech vinyl maker: Record sales for Czech vinyl record maker GZ Media in Lodenice. Housebound music lovers starved of live shows during the pandemic got their groove on with vinyl records instead, fuelling a buying boom that drove the world’s biggest LP maker to its best-ever annual sales and profit. GZ media, which presses records ranging from global superstar Lady Gaga to independent punk band Cock Sparrer saw sales jump 11% to 4 billion crowns ($187 million) and shipped 38 million LPs in 2020, said Chief Executive Michal Sterba. “It was a record year,” he told Reuters on a tour of the company’s factory some 20 kms (12.4 miles) outside Prague where GZ media has pressed albums since 1951. He expects revenue to soar to 4.7 billion crowns in 2021. GZ Media’s banner year follows a vinyl revival over the past decade despite the popularity and instant access of digital media and easy-to-use streaming sites such as Apple Inc’s iTunes and Spotify. The company also operates pressing plants in North America.

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