Monday, February 13, 2012

Record retail blues n hues

The racks at Kristina

READ: Music loses its beat as internet competition bites. Great piece in the business section of Saturday's NZ Herald.

NZ Herald's Hamish Fletcher talked with Beat Merchants owner Jason Howson about them shutting up their Grey Lynn shop and moving to a solely online operation, and the reasons behind it. He also talks with other music retailers - Dustin Lindale at Conch Records and Chris Hart at Real Groovy - to get their impressions on the current state of music retail.

Jason Howson, Beat Merchants: "We came out of the blocks saying 'we know music is getting harder to sell, we're selling less of it but at the time my biggest seller was drum n' bass and dubstep vinyl [records] and we were still selling a lot of music but then people got short in the pocket and vinyl especially became a bit of a luxury.""

Dustin Lindale, Conch:"Generally I think retail is probably hard, I don't know many retailers who'd say the last three years [have been] easy."

One way Conch was trying to generate interest was hosting in-store events to attract people to the shop. "If you get people in the door there's a chance they're going to buy something ... [a lot] of people that do come in really enjoy the place and experiences they have, it's kind of a hub for people meeting up."

Chris Hart, Real Groovy: "The single biggest thing affecting music retailers isn't downloads, it's the fact that the big box retailers have jumped on the wagon to use CDs and DVDs as a loss-leader to sell their stereos, caneware and plasticware. It's really hard for us to compete with The Warehouse selling CDs at $19.95 when our cost price is $20.60 plus GST".

Then don't compete - no one goes to Real Groovy to buy chart CDs anyway. What's your point of difference? Where's the instores? Oh, that's right,  Real Groovy got rid of the stage. Stink. And I recall Chris Hart blaming illegal downloads and piracy as one of the reasons Real Groovy went bust in 2008.

For a contrast... From Factmag: How to… open an independent record store, by Kristina's owners.

"Kristina rejects virtually every traditional tenet of the British independent record store. It’s spacious and airy as opposed to claustrophobic and grimy; its staff are friendly, not curmudgeonly; its atmosphere is lively rather than funereal. If it wasn't for the ample racks and wall-displays of vinyl, you’d be hard-pressed to identify it as a record store at all....

[Their top tips, in brief - read the article for full version...]

Believe in your business.
Location is everything.
Support the scene, or create one.
Get fitted out nicely.
Stimulate eyes as well as ears.
Don’t run before you can walk.
Know and love what you sell.
Look far and wide for good product.
Make the internet work for you.
Have parties.
Respect the old and embrace the new.
Keep learning.
Remember what’s important.
Stay adaptable, and ignore the doom-mongers.

...which sounds a lot like Conch Records to me....

1 comment:

bob d said...

every vinyl focused shop thats closed and said they are going online has failed here - why buy from a local online store when you can direct to juno et al for ya wax fix (usually cheaper)

the single biggest issue some NZ music retailers have - they're crap at giving their customers a decent let alone friendly service (refer to real groovy and compare with conch)

music has been a loss leader for some stores for eons - its a redundant point in the herald when the stores concerned are stocking and catering to different markets

in short they should stop moaning and either face reality and close or up their game and really cater to their market - some are and are doing ok in these trying times and others blame everyone but themselves