Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Avalanche falls: How Record Store Day closed a shop

Edinburgh record store Avalanche is closing up - and, ironically, it's partly the success of Record Store Day that is to blame.

In a blog on the shop's site, the grim story of how the revival of vinyl sales has turned out to bite the ass of the very stores which kept going through the lean times:

Then there is another dilemma. We go on social media and say this will without doubt be one of our albums of the year and many of our followers will simply go to FOPP or HMV and buy it because they are nearer. But there is more.

When the Frightened Rabbit album was announced I immediately received enquiries as to whether there would be an Avalanche or indies special. We had sold 110 out of 500 of the last limited vinyl. At the time HMV/FOPP were in administration and only stocking important titles on CD. Vinyl was not considered an important enough format for any artist even when they were playing an in-store as Frightened Rabbit were. I was fairly sure but not certain that this time there was no special format something that was recently confirmed. Meanwhile fans were encouraged to buy from the band’s Warners website with the vinyl a bargain £12.99 for a signed copy. Again as I suspected this is actually less than the cost to a shop who would expect to sell it for £16.99. Want a signed CD ? That will be Amazon or the band website at a price this time just above cost.
And where vinyl was once an audiophile treat, it has become so commonplace again that the sense of special event doesn't make sense; nor is vinyl any more bringing footfall:
Never mind the week before has some great releases. Explosions In The Sky with a limited vinyl except that their UK label put it on sale ages ago at again a price below cost. The Last Shadow Puppets also have a limited vinyl but you can be sure their label will email the entire LSP/Arctic Monkeys fan base to sell directly and if previous emails are anything to go by not even mention it will be available in shops. That leaves us with a limited indies only Mogwai vinyl which shops are at least given a fair chance to sell.

Depressing as all this might be for a shop like myself it is nothing compared to the Record Store Day list for this year. Given the fantastic rosters many record companies and labels have what shops have been offered is a huge disappointment but not a great surprise given vinyl reissues were once an unusual occurrence whereas they now appear every week. Collectors will still buy the artists they collect but it is no wonder so many shops are asking what people are looking for as it is impossible to guess what these once a year customers will buy.
And in news that isn't unrelated at all:
Sainsbury’s has announced it’s going to be selling vinyl albums from Monday March 21.

The supermarket will sell LPs for the first time since the 1980s following the success of Adele’s 25 which sold over 300,000 in the retailer’s stores.
We hear a lot about how vinyl is back. Not entirely convinced its back to such an extent that the market can sustain supermarkets muscling in.


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