In rotation: 6/17/21

UK | Independent record labels took 26% of the UK market share in 2020: Independent record labels saw a market share of 26% during 2020 according to the BPI and Aim. British label bodies the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) and Aim have recently reported that market share taken by independent labels saw a huge increase during 2020. Independent labels share grew to just under 26% last year as measured by ‘album equivalent sales’, a metric that blends streams and digital/physical sales. The announcement also states that independents’ share of ‘streaming equivalent albums’ has grown in the past five years also. Breaking the stats down into format, independents accounted for 35% of vinyl sales in the UK in 2020, nearly 30% of CD sales, and 24.5% of streaming consumption. All three percentages rising in the first quarter of 2021. The news is fantastic for the grassroots level of the industry that even against all the odds is gaining ground and in some respects thriving. Although major labels dominate the industry, there is more space for independents to grow.

Denver, CO | Denver record store Wax Trax hosts local musicians: Located on 13th and Washington in Denver’s Capitol Hill district, Wax Trax Records has been at the heart of Denver’s alternative music scene since it opened in 1975. Despite the inconspicuous appearance of the brick and mortar corner store, Wax Trax has a long history of putting on shows featuring both local and touring bands, such as Mazzy Star, Gone and Band of Susans. Recently, the store has put on a series of “sidewalk shows” every weekend, inviting local musicians to perform directly outside the store. Although Wax Trax has traditionally held shows inside, the outdoor shows complied with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during previous stages of the pandemic, allowing it to be one of very few venues where local artists could perform. “We want to really invest back into the local scene and do what we can to spark it back up,” said Pete Stidman, general manager of Wax Trax.

San Antonio, TX | San Antonio record label owner, Hickoids front man hangs on in fast-changing music industry: Jeff Smith’s San Antonio-based label Saustex Records has survived the disappearance of record stores, vanishing CDs, the rise of streaming platforms and the COVID-19 pandemic. The small San Antonio record label specializes in rock ’n’ roll, and so does Smith. The 57-year-old is the front man for the redneck punk band the Hickoids, and in addition to performing has written and promoted music for nearly four decades. While streaming services may have largely replaced CDs, Smith’s Saustex Records still produces discs along with vinyl records and even T-shirts promoting its lineup of musical groups. “I am a rock’n’roller for life,” Smith says. It started when he was 14. He played in a San Antonio-based band called the Dwarves before performing with the Hickoids. The band dates back to the early 1980s, went a long hiatus and re-formed in 2008. It plays loud, hard-charging rock ’n’ roll with threads of R-rated humor.

SG | The complete beginner’s guide to vinyl and record players in Singapore: Nostalgia is a new-age drug for Millennials. From film photography to calligraphy, retro anything is making its glorious comeback in the world. Similarly, the old-school, analogue features of vinyl records come as a sort of respite in today’s fast-paced digital world. It harkens back to a sentimental time where things were simpler and brings back the experience of selecting music rather than opening an app on your phone. There is just something so comforting about the crackle of a record and the warmer tones of the tunes that make the music really come alive. Putting a record on is the whole music experience: it is active song selection and attentive listening to how artistes curate and convey their message, as opposed to streaming a two-hour playlist of lo-fi beats in the background on your phone. There are many things to consider when getting started on vinyl. Essentially, one would need three things: an active speaker, a record player and of course, vinyl records.

Pearl Jam announces 25th anniversary ‘No Code’ vinyl reissue: Pearl Jam has announced a vinyl reissue of the band’s 1996 album, No Code, in honor of its 25th anniversary. The clear LP marks the first time No Code has been available on vinyl since its original release, as well as the first time the album’s been specifically mastered for vinyl. The reissue will be released August 13. You can pre-order a copy now via Pearl Jam’s web store. No Code, Pearl Jam’s fourth studio album, was released amid the band’s infamous legal battle with Ticketmaster, which affected the tour behind the record. Still, it ended up spawning hit singles in “Who You Are” and “Hail, Hail.” Interesting, No Code was released on the same calendar date — August 27 — as Pearl Jam’s iconic debut album, 1991’s Ten. That record will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

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