Viewpoint: Banquet's Jon Tolley on what Record Store Day really means to the music industry

Viewpoint: Banquet's Jon Tolley on what Record Store Day really means to the music industry

So the 10th Record Store Day approaches. And what is it all about? Well, to some, Record Store Day is an unnecessary rehashing of reissues which you got first time around. It’s Bowie and The Smiths, and even though those records are great, if this is all that record shops are about then no wonder we’re all streaming nowadays.

I was recently interviewed on Sky News about ‘the vinyl revival’. Normally such interviews are feel-good stories about a nostalgic time when people used to buy records. And I’m always at pains to point out this is as modern day as it gets.

I point out that records are the antidote to a culture where everything is immediate, where there’s a race to the bottom on price, and service and meaning are forgotten.

That now, the emotional experience of buying and owning a piece of art is more important than it ever was.

This Sky News piece challenged me on how it was all nostalgia and artists like Amy Winehouse and Nirvana were the biggest sellers (conveniently missing Adele and the new Bowie album) and I, less absorbed in BPI figures than some, instinctively retorted, Well, that’s not what it’s like in my shop.

For Banquet, our big vinyl sellers of 2016 were from pop-punks Blink-182, alt-rockers Biffy Clyro, the
indie anthems of Catfish And The Bottlemen, the post-hardcore of Basement and modern soul of Michael Kiwanuka.

Our biggest album of this year is from grime hero Stormzy, with arena-rockers You Me At Six in second. And the big sellers from Record Store Day will reflect this complete diversity. Of course, we’re looking forward to reissues from The Smiths and The Cure, modern art from The Cribs and the novelty of the Fawlty Towers picture disc.

But we know that our store will have a queue hundreds deep of people also wanting to pick up records from Slaves, Mallory Knox, Kate Tempest, Wiley and Little Mix.

Record shops mean different things to different people. One’s own interactions with the experience of a record store will not be the next person’s experience. And nor should it be.

The music that is special to you, might be a world away from the person behind you in the queue or the one serving you. So to think your own perception is the view everyone will have, is as absurd as thinking everyone loves the same music as each other.

Of course there’s a lot that unites us, but it’s the special unique experiences which make music so incredibly personal. And it’s the differences in record shops themselves which means we’re not competing with each other, and instead are little snapshots of an experience.

Our own little worlds in the record shop universe, each offering something special to their music community.

Writing this piece for the music industry go-to, we as ‘the music industry’ have an obligation to get out of our bubbles to see what other people are doing.

It’s not how they’re ‘consuming’ music, but it’s how they connect with music. If we didn’t know what the man on the street was thinking 10 months back before the EU referendum, let’s try and consider what the woman on the high street is thinking now.

Our customers are young and old. They’re rich and poor. They’re white and black. They’re male and female. There is not one typical customer. And that is the point. The music is for young and for old. It’s for rich and not so rich. It doesn’t choose a colour or a gender.

The older lady picking up the Pink Floyd record can queue with the younger lad looking for the Cabbage LP. They can share time, space and conversation on the day, but have entirely different thoughts, motives and experiences from it.

We picked up the Independent Retailer award at the Music Week Awards just two weeks ago. I said then that I passionately, and always will, believe in the good of record shops in their community.

With vinyl sales on the up, record shops are on the up too, with new stores opening and existing shops expanding.

It’s Record Store day this week, and there’s no better time to rediscover the joy of buying a record from your local record shop.

Story By: Jon Tolley, Founder, Banquet Records

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