In rotation: 4/27/22

Austin, TX | Record Store Day sales spike amid soaring U.S. vinyl sales: Waterloo Records sales rebounded to pre-pandemic levels for Saturday’s “Record Store Day,” a global event filled with vinyl and CD releases. Why it matters: Record Store Day usually marks the biggest sales day of the year for Waterloo and other stores, and after a two-year decline, owner John Kunz said 2022 Waterloo sales topped pre-pandemic 2019 figures. The big picture: Kunz estimated 200 music fans were in line by the time the store opened at 7am, hoping to get their hands on exclusive releases from their favorite artists. Some of that interest was driven by Taylor Swift’s exclusive—and very limited—7″ release of “the lakes,” which led Waterloo and other Austin record stores to create a drawing for customers to meet the surge in demand.

Los Angeles, CA | The Vinyl Frontier: Record Shopping in Los Angeles: Record store owners across the city weigh in on the changing landscape of brick-and-mortar locations in the online era. The target audience for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza probably never shopped in the record store chain that lends the movie its title, which populated Southern California from 1969 until the mid-1980s. With a flagship kitty-corner from the Whisky a Go Go, Licorice Pizza stood out for its name—coined by the comedy music duo Bud & Travis as slang for an LP—against the competition of Tower Records, The Wherehouse, and the mall chains. Each location carved out a niche, Licorice Pizza founder James Greenwood told Gary Calamar and me a decade ago, when we were writing Record Store Days: From Vinyl to Digital and Back Again. “We went for service and convenience,” he recalled. “In some instances, price, too—we were truly thinking about satisfying the senses.” That meant providing couches and hangout areas in the store along with free licorice and, at times, pizza as well.

Brussels, BE | Belgian music sales skyrocket to highest level in years: After a tumultuous period due to the pandemic, music sales in Belgium reached the highest level in years in 2021, mostly driven by streaming, but also as a result of the revival of vinyl and record shops. In 2021, the Belgian music industry’s turnover was almost €91 million – up by 16% from 2020 while also beating the figures for 2019, according to figures from the Belgian Recorded Music Association (BRMA), the federation that represents music distributors and producers. Since 2017, the number of digital music sales has increased from under 50% to as high as 78% in 2021. “More and more music lovers and fans are finding their way to their favourite artists and the immense offer of music because the music industry succeeded years ago in bringing together its entire all music offerings into one streaming service,” Patrick Guns, Chair of BRMA, said.

Nashville, TN | Historical Commissioner Talks Ernest Tubb Record Shop Preservation: …Ever since the announcement, concerned individuals have been trying to figure out how both the building and the business could be preserved in its current state. Though preserving the business is considerably more difficult since it deals with a private enterprise, according to the Executive Director of Nashville’s Metro Historical Commission, W. Tim Walker, music fans and preservationists need not worry about the building itself. Due to local designations, the historic structure at 417 Broadway cannot be demolished to make way for a new development. “It is in a local historical overlay district. It’s in the historic Broadway Preservation District, which runs from 1st to 5th Avenue, and picks up all the properties on both sides of the street,” W. Tim Walker tells Saving Country Music. “The building cannot be demolished. It’s a contributing, or historic building to that district.”

Springfield, IL | Mark Kessler, owner of one-of-a-kind Recycled Records in Springfield, dies at 74: Mike Grove of Springfield has been coming to Recycled Records in downtown Springfield for 40 years. Monday, Grove wanted to make a special trip to the store, a mecca for vinyl record collectors, after learning about the death Sunday of one of its owners, Mark Kessler. “Every time I come here, it’s my happy place,” Grove said. “It’s a place where no one hassles me. I’m just going to look at records and have fun. It’s an institution and I don’t want it to go away.” Kessler, 74, died at Springfield Memorial Hospital early Sunday after a short illness. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer and had been in and out of the hospital the last couple of weeks. Kessler’s funeral will be held at Bisch and Son Funeral Home, 505 E. Allen St. at 1 p.m. Thursday. The funeral will be preceded by visitation from 10AM-1PM.

Why British record store carrier bags are graphic design icons: While they’ve never carried the kudos of sleeve designs and music posters, record shop bags offers a fascinating insight into 20th century British music culture, high-streets and more. It’s been well documented that vinyl is well and truly back as the discerning music-lover’s format of choice: according to the Vinyl Factory, UK vinyl sales revenue is set to overtake CD sales this year for the first time in 30 years. But even though we’re in the midst of this vinyl revival, there’s one relic from 20th century record shopping culture that feels more archaic: record shop bags. Like pink and white striped pick ‘n’ mix bags of yore, paper and plastic record store bags can instantly conjure up particular smells and places in ways that today’s store-branded totes just can’t. A new book from Jonny Trunk titled AZ Record Shop Bags brings together gorgeous images of British record store bags from the 1940s to the 1990s, hailing from London, Manchester and other big cities, as well as Northampton, Scarborough, Chesterfield, Tunbridge Wells, Leicester, Loughborough and more. Taking in more than 500 examples, the book offers an insight into a strand of graphic design that’s been almost totally overlooked.

Osseo, MN | Minnesota set to get first vinyl-record pressing facility: A local multimedia manufacturer is establishing what is says will be Minnesota’s first vinyl record pressing plant in the Twin Cities. The ADS Group and its music and film division, Copycats Media, will outfit a 65,000-square-foot facility in Osseo with five record presses, with the capacity for 2.5 million units total. There’s room for more presses to be added as needed to support future growth. ADS expects to get the first two presses from Sweden in June and anticipates Copycats will start pressing vinyl records for clients in the fall. Copycats specializes in CD and DVD duplication and offers a full suite of design, packaging, fulfillment and distribution services to clients in the music and film industry. It supplies and supports vinyl records but currently outsources production to a manufacturer in New Jersey.

PT | Vinyl’s death was overkill. Portugal manufactures records again: About 30 years after the closing of the last Portuguese vinyl factory, owned by Valentim de Carvalho, the presses resumed activity and the musical round was once again produced in the country. Since the end of 2021, Grama, a manufacturing unit located in Nogueira da Maia, has responded to more than 100 orders, national and foreign, producing an average of 20 editions per month. Waiting times in Portugal are decreasing and the trade balance in this sector is being reversed. Three decades later, the country returned to exporting vinyl. The three responsible for the project did not parachute into this business. Rui Quintela has owned Louie Louie, a record store in Porto, for 22 years; Paulo Vinhas is responsible for Matéria Prima, another commercial music space at Invicta; and Jorge Álvares, who was also the founder of Matéria Prima, is an economist with extensive professional experience in several countries (in a two-minute conversation, it is understood that he is the dynamo of the business).

Music Industry Moves: Vinyl Me, Please to Open Audiophile-Grade Pressing Plant: Just two days after Record Store Day, the company Vinyl Me, Please has announced that it is building an audiophile-grade vinyl pressing plant in Denver that is scheduled to open by the end of 2022 for production, tours and special events. The news also comes after years of a vinyl-manufacturing backlog that has caused the delay of vinyl copies of many releases. “Quality control and availability are critical to maintaining and expanding our leadership position in the vinyl industry,” said VMP CEO Cameron Schaefer. “With this in mind, we’ve decided to press records in a way that provides an incredible experience for our customers and visitors to our plant.” According to the announcement, the 14,000 sq. ft. pressing plant will be located in the RiNo neighborhood of Denver across from AEG’s concert venue, Mission Ballroom, and is being built as an experiential space where music fans can tour the facility, see first-hand how records are made, and explore music together in this extraordinary environment.

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