In rotation: 2/23/21

Washington, DC | Meet the owner of DC’s HR Records, one of very few Black-owned record stores in the US: The story of D.C.’s place in music history is one that’s been spinning for generations. The legendary shows at Constitution Hall, the Go-Go soundtrack of the city and, of course, the homegrown legends of jazz and soul. But record stores — a place where knowledge is passed on, where you can discover what’s next, and where you can literally hold a piece of history — are rarely in Black hands. That’s where Charvis Campbell comes in. He’s a product of Howard University, who left the world of academia for a new musical arrangement. He owns HR Records, which stands for Home Rule Records, in the heart of D.C.’s Brightwood Park. “We’re probably the only one in the city, and for obvious reasons that’s a concern if you think of the history that D.C. has with music, that our people have,” he told us. “The fact that we only have one store says something there.” In fact, an online community that’s keeping tabs says Campbell’s shop is one of only 37 Black-owned record stores in the country, despite record-sales for vinyl records recently. Campbell says his stake in this side of the industry is a key part of holding on to D.C.’s musical heritage.

Ottawa, CA | Boyd Brothers Stay In the Groove With Ottawa’s Compact Music: The Boyd brothers, Ian and James, have been persistent and sometimes loud proponents of indie music retailing, strongly supportive of local recording artists, and profitably operating their business through the peaks and valleys of the trade. Last year, having been forced to shut down for 13 weeks during lockdown, they still came out ahead in year-end numbers, as compared to 2019. The Bank Street store today is practically all new vinyl and doing very well. Paige Raymond Kovach reports. Ian and James Boyd have been in the music retail business for 43 years and have kept the beat going through many entrepreneurial challenges that include the dawn of digital downloads, and the current Covid-19 pandemic. The two started selling records in 1978 under the name Circular Motion when they set up shop in the front of the Saucy Noodle restaurant to sell their record albums. “I think my first day I sold seven records, and thought to myself ‘I’m gonna get rich,'” Ian says with a hearty laugh.

Grand Junction, CO | Localrado: Put Your Records On: Triple Play Records spins on the power of music. The store is packed solid with vinyl records and CDs featuring hits from multiple genres. In a day of digital streams, employees notice that a high appreciation remains for hard copies. “Being able to listen to a record or a physical media CD rather than a download is important to our culture and to the community as well,” Matthew Cesario shares, “We’re able to give back to the community and we’ve done in many ways over the years.” Adapting to all styles, Triple Play can convert vinyl records and cassettes to CDs or MP3s for personal devices. “At Triple Play Records, they encourage you to listen to a classic disc then go out and toss one,” Cora Dickey says.

Common Celebrates Black Vinyl, in All Its Forms, as Record Store Day Puts a Spotlight on Black-Owned Music Shops: RSD has a website showcasing 30 Black-owned record retailers for Black History Month, with a very vinyl-conscious hip-hop star helping lead the awareness charge. Black History Month is also, unofficially, Black Record Store Day Month. The Record Store Day organization has made it a mission throughout February 2021 to put the spotlight each day on a different Black-owned music shop in the U.S., a cause that has involved bringing in Common to help shine the spotlight on independent retailers that deserve the patronization every month of the year. “I owe so much to record stores and specifically Black-owned record stores,” Common tells Variety. “I’m very grateful to be a part of Record Store Day supporting Black-owned record stores because of what they’ve meant to me and what they’ve meant to Black culture and getting Black music out to the world. So I think it’s only right. It’s like, to whom much is given, much is required. For me, this is my duty.”

5 Reasons Indie Artists Are Releasing Their Own Custom Vinyl Records in 2021: …Prestige and validation for musicians: You read that right! Prestige could definitely be one of the reasons why indie musicians have chosen to release in vinyl records. There are too many indie artists today thanks to the internet and while this is cool, if you want to set yourself apart from the new ones who are just dipping their toes on the water, releasing your album in vinyl records is definitely a way to legitimize you. It’s to certify that you’re serious about your music and that many people are actually willing to buy your album even if it’s a little expensive. Not many musicians release their music in vinyl records so when a certain musician releases theirs, it feels like they’re “not like any musician.” With digital music and music in the CD format being more mainstream, it’s quite rare to find musicians that release in vinyl record format. However, we do acknowledge the fact that vinyl record releases of indie artists this year have already been abundant compared to the past.

Prague, CZ | Pandemic blues fuel vinyl record sales: House-bound music lovers starved of live shows during the coronavirus 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 superstar Lady Gaga to independent punk band Cock Sparrer, saw sales jump 11 per cent to four billion crowns (S$248 million) and shipped 38 million LPs last year, said chief executive Michal Sterba. “It was a record year,” he said during a tour of the company’s factory some 20km outside Prague, Czech Republic, where GZ Media has pressed albums since 1951. The factory employs 1,800 people and the company also runs pressing plants in North America. He expects revenue to rise to 4.7 billion crowns this year. 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’s iTunes and Spotify.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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