In rotation: 4/5/21

San Fernando, CA | Vinyl Lovers in the Valley Can Find Everything from Hardcore Punk, Soul, Cumbia & More at This Cool New Record Shop: The Midnight Hour has landed in San Fernando — and it’s headed to the SGV next. If your vinyl collection could use more Misfits, Thelonious Monk, Mana, or Mötorhead (and everything in between), then make your way over to the Valley’s namesake town. The city of San Fernando has scored The Midnight Hour, a cool new mom-and-pop record shop that debuted in the 818 back in September. That’s not all: Its owners are bringing their curation of music to West Covina, where their second L.A.-area outpost officially opens today. Located on low-key North Maclay Avenue, the boutique stocks new and used vinyl, cassettes, handmade gifts, and more. Expect to find albums and rare international pressings in nearly every format across every music category and subgenre, including funk, garage rock, grunge, hardcore, hip-hop, Latin, metal, New Wave, psychobilly, rap, soul, and beyond. You’ll also find “mom and dad jams” (rather, grandma and grandpa tunes?) from classic rock acts like Fleetwood Mac and Alamaba (to name a few) alongside original mixtapes.

Duncan, BC | Business notes: Full Bug Records opens in Duncan: What’s going on in the Cowichan business community. Vinyl records are making a comeback, and Matt Hewlett has gotten on the bandwagon. Hewlett, a former restaurateur from Vancouver, recently moved to Duncan and opened up Full Bug Records at 171 Jubilee St. in Duncan. He said many of those who sold their record collections in the 1990s are looking to revive them, and a new and younger generation of listeners have begun taking to vinyl records as well. He said that while some believe the sound from vinyl records is better quality than CDs and the music that is downloaded from the internet, many of his customers just like the more interactive format that records, many of which have large 12-inch by 12-inch jackets, come in as they are typically covered in interesting information about the band and may even have posters. “People also want a physical copy of the music, instead of just downloading it,” Hewlett said.

Los Angeles, CA | Lines around the block at Ameoba Music’s grand reopening in Hollywood: More than a year after the pandemic forced it to shutter, and just shy of its 20th anniversary as a Hollywood fixture, music retailer Amoeba Music reopened in its new location Thursday morning. The moment, marked by the requisite jumbo-scissored ribbon cutting, occurred just before 11 a.m. at Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue. A line of giddy, young, mostly masked shoppers, many of whom had been waiting since early morning to enter the music Valhalla, stretched south down Argyle and around the block. The queue remained that way for hours. “The pandemic’s been hard on everyone, so I feel like this is going to boost morale, bring joy again,” said Alonzo Vasquez, who had driven in from the Central Valley with friends to go shopping. His mission: tracking down anything on LP by L.A.-based psych-punk band Osees. “I feel like this will make times normal. We’re getting spots back,” he said, the lower half of his face obscured by his face mask. “We’ve been waiting for a year,” said Silver Lake resident Kerri Barta, who was near the entrance on the cusp of access. Until COVID-19, a visit to Amoeba was part of the weekly ritual for her and companion Jason Yates. “It’s been a big hole in our life.”

Orillia, ON | Passion helps owner ensure record store is a hit: ‘Orillia has a lot to offer, and we feel like we are a part of that,’ says owner of Alleycats Music & Art. Believe it or not, Alleycats Music & Art owner Mike Rothwell isn’t a huge music guy. But his passion for being a key player in the community has prompted him to collect more than 10,000 records which he sells at his 95 Mississaga St. E. location in downtown Orillia. The Kitchener native formerly worked as a health, safety, and environmental professional for most of his life after studying science at the University of Toronto. In 2007, Rothwell and his wife Krista decided to move up north to start a new chapter of their life. “It’s my wife’s hometown, so we wanted to re-locate and move up here; we’ve always liked it here,” Rothwell said. In 2012, Rothwell and his wife opened up Alleycats as a hobby business to give them something to keep them busy. “I’ve always been entrepreneurial, so this is the first time I really got to do anything with my own business concept,” Rothwell said.

Norwich, UK | New vinyl record store to open in city: A vinyl record store will be opening in Magdalen Street in April, with plans to sell craft ale in the summer. Venus Vinyl will be moving into Quanstrom Studio – an independent furniture store – and the two businesses will operate the site as a joint venture. Plans are currently in place to open on April 16 for a soft opening, with craft ales from around the county and beyond on sale further down the line. The record company is owned by Benjamin Venus, who explained: “I started Venus Vinyl about seven years ago when I had a stall on Broadway Market in London. I used to turn up with the records on a bike trailer and I’d sell them from there. “During the pandemic I decided to work on the business online full-time. That’s when I got a call from Daniel Quanstrom who I’ve been friends with for years. “We got chatting and realised we could sell vinyls as well as his furniture, so I decided to make the move up to Norwich.

Black-owned record stores are disappearing while vinyl sales are skyrocketing. Some shop owners say it’s a sign of a ‘whitewashed’ industry. When Le’Shawn Taylor started collecting vinyl records in college, he noticed a void in the vinyl community: There were no Black-owned shops. So in 2018, he started Vibes and Stuff in Valdosta, Georgia, which is now an online shop named Stokely’s Records. “I don’t see no one like me doing this,” Taylor said. The 28-year-old sells vintage jazz, funk, and soul records by Black artists. He named his store after Stokely Carmichael, the US civil-rights activist who coined the phrase “Black Power.” …”Some of the best stores that specialize in what I do – I mean, they’re all owned by white dudes,” he said. “Of course, they know their stuff. I’m not knocking them. “But in the back of my head, I’m, like, ‘Damn, all this stuff, I’m pretty sure it was once owned by a lot of Black folks.’ Some of them probably have no idea that it’s valued that much or, like, the significance of what they once had. In my head I’m, like, ‘Shoot, I gotta be one of the faces.'”

Perth, AU | Vinyl records set to outsell CDs in 2021, according to Australian Recording Industry Association: Vinyl records are on track to outsell compact discs this year. Wholesale figures released by the Australian Recording Industry Association reveal that music lovers bought $29.3 million worth of the platters that matter last year, compared to $30.6m of the once dominant CD. Vinyl rose a remarkable 32 per cent, while sales of CDs plummeted 17 per cent. In 2010, CDs made up 65 per cent of the Australian music market, while 20 years ago record stores flogged $758 million worth of the shiny discs sold in fragile jewel cases. Last year, they only made up 5.6 per cent of the music market with vinyl spinning around 5.4 per cent. The vast majority of revenue for the record industry came via streaming services, which poured $445m into the $542m overall market. However the year-on-year rise of 14 per cent in 2020 more than halved the increase of streaming in 2019.

Glasgow, UK | Vinyl sales hit a record high with projections seeing them outselling CDs for the first time since 1987: Records are out selling CDs for the first time since 1987 as gig-goers and music lovers find their love of the classic LP for the first time in three decades. Rick Astley, Bon Jovi and George Michael were all amongst the charts the last time records were the most popular way of consuming music. Frances Moore, the chief executive of international music body the IFPI said: “With so much of the world in lockdown and live music shut down, in nearly every corner of the globe most fans enjoyed music via streaming.” CD sales fell by almost a third last year while vinyl seen a 30% boost in sales partly due to the pandemic as no one could attend live events so most put their money towards their collections. Vinyl records were first produced in 1948 and became the main way for people to listen to music. Sales dipped following the release of the CD which was more convenient but as the stats show vinyl has been on the comeback over the past decade.

TR | Vinyl records sales in Turkey reach new heights in virus era: Interest in vinyl records has grown even more during epidemic, says Istanbul-based record collector and musician. With live concerts out of the picture for the last year-and perhaps for months still to come-more and more Turkish music lovers have turned to old-fashioned vinyl to get the richest enjoyment from their audio experience, say local musicians, collectors, and buyers alike. Emre Metin Bilginer, the guitarist for Turkish rock band Merlyn, told Anadolu Agency that interest in vinyl platters had grown even more during the epidemic. “In the early days of the epidemic, people cut their purchases due to fear [of getting the virus] or international cargo not working properly, but now we see that since April 2020, people started to buy more physical media like CDs and cassettes, and especially records,” said Bilginer, who is based in the metropolis Istanbul, also the hub of the Turkish music industry. Bilginer is an avid record collector himself and boasts around 1,000 platters in his collection, including Queen, Jeff Beck, and many hard rock and jazz LPs.

The famous artists behind history’s greatest album covers: Throughout the 20th-century record sleeves regularly served as canvases for some of the world’s most famous artists. From Andy Warhol’s electric yellow banana on the cover of The Velvet Underground & Nico’s 1967’s debut album, to the custom-sprayed Banksy street art that fronted Blur’s 2003 “Think Tank,” art has long been used to round out the listening experience. A new book, “Art Sleeves,” explores some of the most influential, groundbreaking and controversial covers from the past forty years. “This is not a ‘history of album art’ type book,” said the book’s author, DJ and arts writer DB Burkeman over email. Instead, he says the book is a “love letter” to visual art and music culture. …For Burkeman, the digitization of music is positive insofar as it means artists don’t need record companies to put music out. But the rise of streaming has also resulted in the forfeiture of exciting album appendages like designed lyric sheets or handwritten notes from the recording artist. “We’ve definitely lost something as far as experiencing emotions one might feel while listening to a record and studying, analyzing, or enjoying the physical object.”

CA | Physical Distribution’s New Era in Canada: After a few dodgy months, the distribution of physical music formats in Canada is again running tickety-boo with fulfillment on DVD, CD, LP and electronic game orders again flowing seamlessly to Canada’s chain stores, 200-plus independent music retailers and Amazon. As too, back-orders accrued on artist and record company direct-to-consumer websites. Unreported until now, the nation’s largest home-media distributor, Technicolor Home Entertainment, closed its domestic operations at the top of the year and consolidated its Canada-wide B2B and B2P manufacturing and fulfillment services in its massive Nashville TN complex. Before 2021, Technicolor handled all the manufacturing and back-end delivery operations for Sony Music, UMC and Warner and each’s respective affiliated and distributed labels from a facility north of Toronto. …Feedback from the street confirms the strategy is working in spades, with initial hiccups resolved and fulfillment and prompt deliveries on orders now normalized.

Taipei, TW | Book review: How pirated records from Taiwan kept Asia rocking: By the mid-1960s, the nation was churning out around 350,000 of them a month, many of which were diffused to Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. Taiwan became the world leader in Chinese-language pop music in the 1980s, but two decades earlier, the country was already leading Asia in a very different aspect of the music industry –– pirated vinyl records. In 1965, more than 45 factories, most of them in what is today’s Sanchong District in New Taipei City, churned out around 350,000 pirated records a month, everything from the Beatles to Hong Kong’s latest pop stars. This reign of piracy continued until the advent of US copyright sanctions in the early 1990s, and along the way helped power the soundtrack to the Vietnam War in Asia. Records flowed out of shops located just outside of US military bases in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung, then diffused to US outposts throughout Asia—to Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines.

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