Record Store Day comes to Upminster
09:00 19 April 2014
With 7.4billion songs streamed online last year, you might think buying a new vinyl record was a thing of the past.
But rather than spell the end for the format, the digital revolution has had a hand in its resurgence, with sales in 2013 at their highest for 15 years.
This morning music fans across the UK will try to get their hands on one-off releases by their favourite artists as they line the streets for Record Store Day.
The annual celebration of independent record stores started in 2007 in the United States, before reaching the UK a year later. For one day, fans can buy re-releases of classic albums and singles or new, limited-edition vinyl.
It has now spread to every continent, and to mark the occasion, the Recorder spoke to the owner of the borough’s only participating outlet, Crazy Beat Records, in Corbets Tey Road, Upminster.
“We’ve participated since the beginning,” said Gary Dennis, who has been in charge of the store since 1992. “It’s a brilliant thing. We definitely see an increase on the day, it brings in a lot of customers – but it’s not like central London where they shut most of Soho.”
In 2013, 780,000 albums were sold in the UK, a 101 per cent increase on 2012 and more than 270pc up on 2008. Gary believes the resurgence is down to a new generation of music fans.
“The interest is coming back,” he said, “specifically younger people, and rock music fans mainly. MP3 and digital doesn’t sound great and people usually listen to it on bad speakers.
“Vinyl sounds better and you also get to hold it. I think having a physical record, something you can touch, is very important.
“All that went out the window, but it’s beginning to change now and is becoming more appealing to kids. When you download something you see nothing at all.”
Arctic Monkeys’ AM topped the vinyl charts last year in the UK, followed by Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and David Bowie’s The Next Day, and fashion outlets such as Urban Outfitters now stock records.
Although it does sell new vinyl, Crazy Beat is predominantly a black music store stocking rare funk, reggae, soul and jazz records.
“In the nineties we would get people coming from all over London, Caribbean guys,” said Gary, “the borough was famous for it, with Danny Donnelly and Boogie Times Records in Romford doing so well at the time too.
“I still recommend stuff to customers and they will have a browse, but these days with the internet the younger ones tend to come in and know exactly what they want. It’s becoming cool and retro, which makes me feel old. But it’s a good thing – it’s the whole experience of listening to a record that people are coming back to.”
The demise of HMV last year exposed the change in the music-buying landscape, but now with online playlists and instant access to digital music, there is something not only nostalgic, but also engaging in taking a record out of its sleeve, placing it on a turntable and enjoying music in a way it was intended to be heard.