Belated thanks for your responses to the Q & A. I’ve cued the article up to be featured on-site on Thursday.
Good luck with your preparations for RSD, and thanks again for getting involved with Muso’s at what must be a pretty busy time! I’m looking forward to popping in – with my elbows out so I can get near the swag- on Saturday.
On 13 Apr 2013, at 23:31, Darren Yeats wrote:
1) Vox Box is the new kid on the block in Edinburgh’s record store scene: what made you and xxxxx decide to open a record store, and how have you been settling in?
xxxxx is officially retired but he has always dealt in used records through market stalls and record fairs. It made sense for him to keep stock in one place and wind down the number of stalls and fairs he does through the year -although that’s yet to happen! I had been collecting records for 10 years and had developed a lot of overspill. xxxxx had been my favourite record dealer. We did our sums and a shop seemed like a good starting place.
It’s almost two years since we opened and this will be our second Record Store Day. Working at the minor end of the record industry is eye opening. The bands, labels and venues work so hard, we have the easier job. Our goal had just been to be listed in the top 5 record shops in Edinburgh and I think we’re up there. We helped set up a traders association on our street which has led to the council agreeing to improve and better sign-post us. Many of the other traders have become firm friends.
2) For the uninitiated thinking of ambling on down to Vox Box for the first time, what has your store on offer got to tantalise folk with?
All of our pre-owned front shop records are near mint. We also have a backroom of budget records that are on the whole underpriced. Apart from selling some really nice classic vinyl, VoxBox is in the best part of Edinburgh. Stockbridge is full of independent boutique shops and cafes. It’s my favourite part of town. Anyone coming into our shop is always in for a cheery welcome.
3) What do you make of the current vinyl revival? Since opening, have you noticed a significant increase in demand for the format?
Vinyl is cool again! People like new things. Remember that records are a new technology for young people, some are amazed you can play both sides! Our sales are growing consistently but it’s hard to know how much is natural growth as we become better known to the old school record buyers and how much is due to the revival. Vinyl is still a very niche market but there are definitely a lot of young people coming in after getting their first record player. It’s great to see someone who’s ears are yet to be opened.
4) What makes vinyl so particularly fab?
[This has been gone over a lot] Records are yours to keep, frame, pass on, turn into a fruit bowl, frisbee or listen to. George is an audiophile and really believes in the superior sound quality. Personally, I like the artwork. I really feel that it gives a band an extra layer of expression. Many album covers are better known than the music on them. Liner notes on the back which Dylan revolutionised, the lyric insert you can read while you play a new album. I’ve bought countless albums because of the sleeve alone and have rarely been disappointed. The ritual of taking a new record home and taking care of the music you bought. Then the tea room ritual of actually playing it. Yes, they attract dust and you need to clean your records and stylus a lot but they belong to you and they carry some history with them. They soak up the smells, if they get partied they can get some scratches. You remember who gave a record to you and even if a record becomes unplayable, you will still have a work of art album sleeve which could be considered a limited edition print.
There are hugely popular bands recording now that may not ever have a record out. It will be a shame for One Direction’s Harry Styles to tell his kids he was in this massive thing and only have a few CDs to show for it -and his kids won’t have anything to play the obsolete technology on either, which is maybe just as well. Which makes me wonder if their gold discs are pimped up pre-owned Top of the Pops records.
So many records have been out of print for too long despite a steady demand. The industry had been hoping vinyl would go away for 20 years. Now they’re become over-excited and are repressing the million sellers again which can be odd as you can often pick up a good copy in charity shops for pennies. For instance, Billy Joel is great but I’m not sure why the company has created a £25 remastered copy of The Stranger.
5) Where do you see shops like yours fitting into the future of music retail, now that the high street’s dying a death and the internet’s ruling the world?
The future is a huge virtual Amazon warehouse that has everything. The internet side will keep getting bigger!
It’s difficult for a small shop like us despite it often being touted as the future. There is very little profit in selling new records from a shop our size. The prices are kept down by the Amazon sellers who are happy to sell in great numbers and make £1 a time. There are American sellers who can ship a record to you for less than a shop can buy the same item from a UK distributor for. It is a global marketplace.
We don’t stock the new records where we can’t compete with online sellers. I’m concerned that new-co HMV will have better terms from suppliers.
The high street landlords have already reduced their rent.
The most sustainable medium sized shops will offer something else. Mono is Glasgow is good as it’s a bar, cafe, venue and record shop rolled into one. There’s a shop offering Pie and Vinyl.
6) Are you guys involved with the local music scene, and promoting smaller labels and acts?
Yep. We sought out some of the local labels and I was surprised by the amount of sheer talent on our doorstep. We work with Matthew and Ian from Song by Toad which luckily is based around the corner and with Andy and Paddy from Gerry Loves Records, they have been a great help in arranging the live music. This year both labels have released items to coincide with RSD.
The Beer vs Records experiment is worth a mention too http://www.beervsrecords.com/
7) Record Store Day: is it worth the hyperbole laden on it by music fans and the press?
Every day for me is record shop day! And I think RSD is a brilliant thing. It has its detractors and they are almost all right! Every criticism levelled against it is true. Inflated prices, yes. Big labels taking advantage of fans, yes. The early-bird ebay chancers and records that are too limited or not limited enough, yes it’s all true. But for me and lots of the people I talk to, it is not about the exclusive releases at all. Yes they’re often totally oversubscribed and we may get allocated two copies of a limited edition of 500 when four of my friends have already asked if I can get them a copy. It is a really odd experience. As a collector myself, I agree that some do seem too dear or too limited but the exclusive records and long queues create the vinyl fever which is hard for the press to ignore and what is without doubt is that record shops would be worse off without Record Store Day.
I’ve become good friends with local label owners, bands and venue owners due to our RSD last year. My favourite band is now PAWS, who I found only because they had recorded for Gerry Loves Records and through their influence came and played for us on RSD 2012.
8) What made VoxBox get involved with RSD, and what’s the preparation process like? (Frantic..?)
We got involved as we are a record shop. I’ve never really made the distinction between a used record shop and a new music shop as until recently the new music shops would have a terrible selection of records. I though you could just sign up to RSD and they’d send you a list! I found out that to get access to the bulk of the records you have to open accounts with ten record companies and then three or four distribution companies. Older shops will tend to have the accounts set up already. It is difficult as a newcomer to find out who supplies what or to find the contact details you need for a big company, but thanks to Record Store Day, this year, EMI got in touch with us.
In the run up, I’ve sent a hundred emails and researched a hundred bands I’d never heard of. Facebook is really handy when you don’t have a clue. Any UK band with less than 5000 likes I didn’t order.
Thanks to RSD a lot of second hand shops will start selling new records. It makes sense to combine out of print David Bowie records with his new releases. We won’t make a great deal of money on the RSD products as we keep the prices down but we’ll get some new customers in and the publicity generated is fantastic for our shop and our street. It will also be a great showcase for our favourite Edinburgh labels and bands.
9) What are your plans for the big day
We’ll open a bit earlier and get a cup of tea or coffee for any waiting punters from Rosie’s Tea Shop at number 24 across the road. Anyone queuing will get to see a list of what we have. We’ll put on some food at noon or so and if it’s a nice day, the live music will start around then with Wounded Knee on the steps of the shop to kick off the performances.
Song by Toad, Gerry Loves Records and Fence are great friends of the shop so it made sense to showcase the talent on their books and we’ve managed to get a truly mouth-watering selection of artists representing old and new music which is hard to beat.
Representing the new on local labels we have Adam Stafford, eagleowl, Kid Canaveral, Rob St. John, Magic Eye, Wounded Knee and Honeyblood.
But Mike Heron of Edinburgh’s Incredible String Band is the highlight for me. He is a true music legend but usually known only to the older fans and record collectors. He is now 70 years old and was a contemporary and an influence on Dylan and The Beatles. Few people in Edinburgh even know of The Incredible String Band or that they played at Woodstock in 1969. Mike Heron is from Edinburgh and his father taught the shop’s George English at school! So I see him as part of the local talent too. Mike Hastings of Trembling Bells, John Frog Pocket Wilson and Georgia Seddon perform with him and will perform some fantastic songs of their own.
I feel really lucky and honoured to have so much talent support us on the day.
10) Are there any releases on this year’s list that you’re particularly excited about and would like to nab for your own turntable?
Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die. Willie Nelson’s RSD single and as perfect a title as you can get.
That’s the best I could do!
I’ve attached some Q&As that have I’ve been asked and have not been published anywhere if you need any filler/background. Feel free to tweak into the piece if need be. Some are a bit lengthy.
On 10 Apr 2013, at 15:05, Darren Yeats wrote:
Thanks for getting in touch. The last 2 weeks have been hectic with RSD orders and getting the lineup sorted. Now time to relax and start the plugging in earnest.
I’m very happy to help. George is away on holiday this week. Popping in would be fine but I’m not in until later Thursday afternoon and also on Saturday and Sunday but no doubt it’d be best to get something done sooner.
If you fire some questions by email in the meantime, I can think up some (hopefully useful) answers.
There is a real negative side to RSD. The detractors always have a valid point but I like to focus on the sunny side – the celebration of the day. Where the major labels get in touch with small shops and record labels and bands come together to have a party.
This year, we’re lucky to have Mike Heron from the Edinburgh’s Incredible String Band. To me he is psychedelic folk royalty and few realise the ISB was the only Scottish band to play Woodstock and were influential on the Beatles and Dylan. He’s 70 now and we’re trying to increase his profile among the younger musos in Edinburgh and beyond.
This is our line up for the day: http://www.facebook.com/events/159619074197662/ An old and new feel which ties into the music we sell.
There may be an interesting piece for someone to do regarding the ISB. If anyone is up for that, they can contact Mike’s partner, at xxxxxx The last good quality ISB recording has just come out -Live at The Fillmore so it may make a nice review piece.