With Record Store Day on Saturday, Ralston and Sink’s Virtual Podcast sat down with longtime Vertigo Music record store operator Herm Baker for a candid chat about the challenges of retail music sales.
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PODCAST: RSVP Music Chat with Vertigo Music’s Herm Baker (4/17/18)
Heading into the first Record Store Day back in 2008, Vertigo Music operator Herm Baker wasn’t sure he’d be able to stay in business through the end of the year – thanks to plummeting CD sales and the practices of big box store competitors.
But on the cusp of the 11th celebration of independent record shops, Grand Rapids’ Vertigo Music and other small stores across the country are reveling in a resurgence of sales driven mostly by the revival of vinyl: about 85 percent of Vertigo’s sales revenues can be attributed to vinyl, with 27,000 new LPs in stock.
Still, even as hordes of Millennials and Baby Boomers prepare to crowd shops on Saturday to hunt for special releases and other gems, the question remains: Can this all last?
Baker fears it could be a “vinyl bubble” – a novelty and a trend that might eventually fade out, due to changes in buying habits, the convenience of online shopping and new “enemies,” including major labels which sell vinyl direct to consumers.
“We’re no longer the gatekeepers,” he says of the days when music lovers leaned on record stores as a showcase of what was new and intriguing. “There’s less browsing.”
And while vinyl sales continue to soar, consider this odd statistic: A poll conducted by Britain’s ICM Unlimited market research agency revealed that 48 percent of consumers who purchased vinyl in the last month didn’t even play it. Some didn’t even own turntables.
All of this was part of an eye-opening and candid chat with Baker as part of this week’s RSVP Music Chat hosted by Grand Rapids musician and songwriter Ralston Bowles and Local Spins editor and publisher John Sinkevics.
Listen to the entire podcast above and, if you have a comment, leave a voice message via SpeakPipe below and you could be part of the next podcast. Or email John at email@example.com.
And get more details about Saturday’s Record Store Day events – with exclusive releases and in-store entertainment – at a host of West Michigan record shops later this week at Local Spins. Shops include Vertigo, The Corner Record Shop in Grandville, The Corner Record Shop in Grand Haven, Dodds Record Shop, Schuler Books and Revolve Records in Grand Rapids, Green Light Music and Satellite Records in Kalamazoo, and Third Coast Vinyl in Muskegon, among others.
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Check out previous episodes of the RSVP Music Chat online here. And email John at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about boosting your business’ profile by sponsoring and advertising on the RSVP Music Chat.
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