Filed under Retail

Getting into retail

<a href="http://humphreysandkeen.bandcamp.com/album/the-overflow">Bright Shining Star by Humphreys &amp; Keen</a>

You could reasonably argue that there have been better times to get into music retail. All the same, I’ve taken a very small step towards that this week on behalf of some New Zealand friends of mine who have recorded my favourite album of the past five years: The Overflow by Humphreys and Keen.

I was looking for a way to sell vinyl from my site. My friend (and fellow H&K fan) Owen had arranged a gorgeous limited edition vinyl pressing, cut at Abbey Rd studios in London, and I enthusiastically offered to do the online retail.

The sale of digital downloads was no problem whatsoever, because of Bandcamp. And yes, I’m an evangelist for Bandcamp – but with very good reason. It’s brilliant (and I’m on their board of advisors, if you need the disclaimer).

But having set up a physical online retail store in a completely different realm, I know that it’s not something to be taken lightly. It can be a mammoth task. But I have just one album to sell – and I wanted to do it from my personal website. I’m not building HMV or Tower Records here.

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Death and resurrection


A quick tour around Real Groovy Records, Auckland

Record stores have interested me quite a lot recently.

My local independent record store here in Birmingham closed down last weekend while I was away in New Zealand, so to commemorate that fact, I visited a couple of Auckland record stores – Conch in Ponsonby, which is the spiritual equivalent of what Jibbering was (part cafe, part meeting spot, and a hub for local funk, hip hop and reggae DJs); and Real Groovy Records – a massive emporium of new and second hand vinyl and CDs, books, DVDs, computer games and so on.

Real Groovy is particularly interesting, because it went into liquidation last year and was closed down – but was rescued by an injection of capital (as I understand it) and was a thriving hive of activity when I visited.

It got me thinking about what music retailers can and should do to survive – and also about the extent to which the closure of record shops is quite the tragedy it’s generally portrayed as.

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Audiolife

The Audiolife platform allows artists to:

• Create their own virtual store with an unlimited number of downloads, ringtones, CDs and merchandise items.
• Sell directly to fans on any website, blog or social network on the web.
• Have one central place to design custom products and manage all e-commerce.
• Easily buy high quality, affordable CDs and merchandise with no minimums for live shows and events.
• Focus on making music while Audiolife handles all on-demand manufacturing, distribution, customer service and accounting.

Does this solve anything for you? Was going to more than one place to do merchandise, CD manufacture on demand and digital sales through your website difficult and time-consuming? Is the widget the killer app for the “musical middle class”? Your thoughts in the comments…

Why give music away for free?

Free

I had an email from a musician today who said he was struggling a little with the idea of giving away mp3s. It’s a really common issue, and so I thought I’d share my response.

1) You’re not giving away music, you’re giving away RECORDINGS of your music;
2) Don’t try to make money from your music, make money BECAUSE of your music;
3) Economics works differently for bits than it does for atoms.

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