Vinyl, music’s resurrecting savior
By Adeiline Rodriguez
Lodged in between a ski apparel store and a movie theater in downtown Summit, stands Scotti’s Record Shop, the last remaining Scotti’s Record Shop of what was once a chain of five.
With posters and records displayed all over the walls, crates filled with new and used records from all different types of genres, and music playing softly in the background, Scotti’s is the epitome of a traditional record store. Despite having just one record store left, owner and manager, Gary Scotti says business is doing great and has what he says is the only format of music that is growing to thank, Vinyl.
Nielsen SoundScan, a music sales tracking system, released its annual statistics report for 2013 that showed digital music sales declined 6 percent from the year before. This brought sales for digital music to the lowest it’s ever been since iTunes launched in 2003.
While the report also showed CD sales went down 14.5 percent, The Nielsen SoundScan report showed that vinyl sales were up 33 percent, marking a 17-year high in sales for vinyl. And with a product in high demand and only a few places to shop, record stores are also seeing a wave of new clientele.
It was around 11 in the morning, Scotti’s Record Shop had only been open an hour, but already people were coming in and out of the store. When asked whether he thinks record stores will also make a comeback, Scotti smiled and replied, “I think they already have.”
Although Scotti’s Record Shop sells DVDs, CD’s, and Beats headphones as well, its main revenue comes from vinyl.
“It’s the only format of music that is growing,” Scotti says.
Another way record stores are bringing in customers is with the help of Record Store Day.
Founded by record store owners and employees to promote the importance and culture of record stores, Record Store Day is held on every third Saturday of April since 2008. Record Store Day participating stores are given special releases from independent artists and offer special prices on merchandise in stores.
Scotti, whose store was one of the very first participating stores, recalls the difference from the first time participating on Record Store Day
“The first year we did it, it was modestly successful, but this past Record Store Day was the best gross sale we’ve ever had through all our history,” Scotti said. “We did a months’ worth of business in one day.”
Although the majority of vinyl was being put out through independent labels and artists, the rise of vinyl sales has peaked the interest of major record labels. Major music labels with some of music’s biggest pop stars have released their available albums in vinyl format. Some of those artists include Daft Punk, whose newest album, “Random Access Memories,” was the best-selling vinyl of 2013.
In a recent article, The New York Times reported that, “about a dozen [vinyl] pressing plants have sprouted up in the United States,” due to the high demand of vinyl.
John Bennett, a production manager at a Brooklyn vinyl pressing plant called Brooklynphono, admits even though the pressing plant always had a good business pressing vinyl for DJ’s and house music artists, he has seen a significant amount of growth and variety in production over the past few years.
“We put out all kinds of stuff. For DJ’s, house music, indie rock, and classic rock ‘n’ roll reissues,” Bennett said. “We’re all over the place but we mostly work with independent labels.”
Some of the labels Brooklynphono works with are Norton Records and Sacred Bones, an independent record label named one of the 50 best indie record labels in the United States by Billboard, and who has released the work of director and musician, David Lynch. The plant also produces Record Store Day releases for a majority of their clients.
Bennett, who has a vinyl collection of about 500 records, says although digital music is still one of the biggest ways to get music, nothing compares to vinyl records.
“No one collects MP3s,” said Bennett. “People like having stuff, they want objects and vinyl is the best format to get the full experience
Scotti too believes that being able to preserve vinyl records is one of its most important qualities and has high hopes that this generation will help restore the importance of vinyl.
“This generation right now is really appreciating that, they’re getting dad’s records out and it becomes a parent-child connection,” Scotti said. “You’ll never pass down your hard drive to your kids; you will pass down your record collection.”