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The Revival of Vinyl

By Bekhi Valls Moragas

At a glance, trying to figure out whether the record is back is nigh on impossible.

For the most part, negatives come from those who lived through the LP, cassette and Walkman; at best they remain incredulous that someone is crazy enough to bring back such a cumbersome format, at worst they scoff at a dead cause, classing its champions as mere sheep, blindly clinging onto a declining hipster bandwagon.

And yet, ten years in and the vinyl revival is stronger than ever, actually surpassing sales in CDs and, more recently, subscription services like Spotify.

Non-believers: nil points.

The fact is that, unofficially, indie music stores are sprouting up all over the place and for the most part they seem to be booming.

Last weekend saw the door of an indie store hard to get into, let alone browse, due to a merger of minglers and earnest browsers.

Down in its basement, a band plays live to those perusing.

Ignore the clothes and it might seem like 1981, but it’s not.

It’s a Saturday, in a local independent music store.

This is Record Store day, and it has never seemed more alive.

Walk through the iron-bar and glass double doors and you find yourself in the inexplicably grand shrine to marble that is Boscombe’s Royal Arcade.

Sitting snugly by the post office is a window display partly obscured by dates to music events, door half open showing the first floor and a peek at a large descending staircase.

This is Rose Red Records, independent music store and active participant of Record Store Day.

Co-owner Richard Smith is passionate about the American tradition.

“It’s supposed to be about the record store it is becoming more commercialised”, he explains.

“It’s not really about the artists; I think there is still that element that they are releasing material to try and promote vinyl and try and keep the shop going, making money without competition.”

He adds that the profit outcomes are tenfold.

“You can’t pirate a record.”

Record Store Day sees participating artists press a very limited amount of vinyls to be sold exclusively in indie stores.

“We only get about ten copies of each album”, Richard acknowledges.

“America gets a big pocket of it, we get second choice and the rest of the world is just kind of third choice, to be honest, but I think we quite often get the best releases actually.”

The exclusives are then available until they run out.

The only stipulation seems to be that it cannot be released before the official launch.

“The problem with Record Store Day is there are a lot of dealers that go round the shops, they buy records and they put them on eBay at like 3 times the cost.

“We had one guy come in [a few years back] who bought eight of the same album and the people behind queuing for the same amount of time couldn’t get one.

“We have a policy that people can only buy one of each now.”

Despite its roots in the States, Record Store Day has been going strong since it came over to the UK around five years ago.

In that short amount of time, it has morphed into an event in its own right, with bands actively releasing different materials to English audiences.

For an owner of an indie store to have it so incredibly packed after making such a big event out of Record Store Day, there remains no doubt that the record is here to stay.