Vinyl record sales surge during pandemic

PORTLAND, Maine — Vinyl record sales surged during the pandemic as music lovers fattened their collections, and audio cassettes started a comeback as properly, maintaining enterprise spinning at record shops.

Easing restrictions on indoor purchasing and continued curiosity in vinyl data present shops — and customers — one thing to cheer on Saturday, the primary of two Record Store Day dates. Although many shops have been closed during the early a part of the pandemic, folks have been listening to data at house and boosting on-line and curbside pickup sales of vinyl.

Will Emanuel, a University of Maine pupil caught at house outdoors Portland, purchased about 50 to 55 albums during the pandemic. “I was absolutely itching to build a collection,” mentioned Emanuel. “I fell in the rabbit hole and now it seems I can’t escape.”

At 20, Emanuel is a part of a brand new era drawn to the nice and cozy sound, album artwork and retro vibe of vinyl data, becoming a member of with older Americans who grew up with the format to extend sales.

Vinyl record sales soared in 2020 during the pandemic yr, rising 29% to $626 million and surpassing compact discs in sales income, in accordance with the Record Industry Association of America.

Audio cassettes, of all issues, are additionally seeing renewed curiosity — although nonetheless one thing of a novelty in the case of total sales — because of some assist from Hollywood and Netflix.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” featured a grooving mixtape with hits from the Sixties and 70s that grew to become a chart topper, whereas Netlfix’s “Stranger Things” featured a mixtape with the Clash and different artists from the ’80s.

A vinyl record by The Verve plays on a turntable, Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Falmouth, Maine.
Vinyl sales surged 29% in 2020, reaching $626 million and surpassing CDs in sales income.
AP

That surge in curiosity in data and cassettes bodes properly for the annual celebration of indie music shops, these native music hubs the place folks can thumb by means of albums, CDs and cassettes, and speak music.

New releases, a trademark of Record Store Day, which is being held on June 12 and July 17, embrace every thing from Black Sabbath to The Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Buzzcocks to The Notorious B.I.G.

Many of these are one-time exclusives obtainable solely on Record Store Day, making them uncommon and collectible.

The story of its begin begins in Maine, the place Chris Brown from Bull Moose Music pitched the thought in 2007, and was joined by Eric Levin from the Alliance of Independent Music Stores.

A yr later, the primary Record Store Day launched.

These days, retailing is way totally different from the golden period when teenagers rushed to their native retailer to flip by means of 45-rpm data.

Megastores like Virgin and Tower Records are lengthy gone, however about 1,400 record shops are nonetheless in enterprise, mentioned Michael Kurtz, co-founder of Record Store Day. That’s up from about 1,000 shops when the enterprise bottomed out as folks shifted to digital music, he mentioned.

Record albums and compact discs collectively account for about $1.1 billion in annual sales, a far cry from the $10 billion spent on streaming providers like Spotify, in accordance with RIAA.

Nonetheless, new record shops are opening up.

In California, Michael Miller and a buddy who’ve a set of 5,000 to six,000 albums apiece determined to open a retailer in February during the pandemic in Twentynine Palms, not removed from Joshua Tree National Park, which has a thriving artwork and music scene.

Vintage record player with vinyl disc, close-up.
Records and CDs account for about $1.1 billion in annual sales, whereas streaming providers rake in $10 billion.
Getty Images

“My wife says you want to open a store right now, in the desert? I say sure, why not?” Miller mentioned. Sales are beating expectations, he mentioned.

Like many indie record shops, Miller’s White Label Vinyl gives a spot for folks to get collectively, speak about music, and to take a look at the newest new and used data, and different merch.

Some folks store for brand spanking new albums, which value upward of $30 apiece. Others are extra thinking about traditional data.

John Nyboer, an expert photographer in Los Angeles, mentioned he prefers to buy classic shops for quirky tunes for his 2,000-record assortment. Lately, he’s exploring outdated data from Mexico and South America.

“It’s a really fun way to expose myself to music, to learn about the history, to play amateur historian,” he mentioned.

Back in Maine, Emanuel prefers the sound and expertise of vinyl data over digital music. A listener can’t flip by means of tracks on a record album, he mentioned. Vinyl requires a listener to settle in.

“It helps put the focus on the music itself,” he mentioned. “You appreciate an entire album instead of one or two songs.”

Chris P. Thompson, a composer and percussionist in New York, mentioned that’s exactly why he selected to launch his music on data.

“I wanted a format to encourage the listener to invest the time,” mentioned Thompson, who produces digital music. “There’s more to the experience than flipping through songs on your phone.”

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