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.
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.
• 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…
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.
I don’t normally report the music industry news on New Music Strategies. I have the Newswire for that – and there are other people who do it way better. I generally keep to ways in which independent musicians and music businesses can capitalise on the shifts in the music industries.
Here, I think, there’s sufficient overlap to justify it – and it’s very big news indeed.
You may have already heard that Entertainment UK, the single biggest supplier of all of the top DVD, music and game titles to each of the main High Street retailers in Britain is in administration. The fallout from this is, from a major retailer’s perspective, utterly catastrophic.
Shockhound is part mp3 retail site, part online pop culture magazine. They sell merchandise as well as tunes, but the core of the site is content-driven. Interviews and features have an alternative rock slant in line with the site’s connection with alternative music-related clothing store Hot Topic.
Independent artists can get their own music up for sale on Shockhound through TuneCore.
Magazine and retail outlet all in one: diluting the proposition, or a “sticky” site that’ll help sell more of your music? Your mission is to review the the reviewers, write about the articles and evaluate the store – in the comments please.
Its aim is to provide useful resources, advice and strategies for innovation and success in the independent music sector in a rapidly changing technological environment.
NMS examines emerging technologies (and buzzwords) such as AI, blockchain, metaverse and 'Web 3.0', but focuses primarily on sustainability, music as a tool for social change, participation, equality and inclusion, and the ways in which music technologies can build better worlds.