The 2000s have been a strange era for music sales.
In the year 2000, CDs were the dominate music medium with upwards of $13 billion in sales. In the last four years, however, CDs have dwindled to $698 million in sales with streaming services like Spotify and Apple iTunes taking the reins of the market, producing close to $5 billion in revenue, according to the RIAA data base. Music sales have dwindled on the whole as consumers have preferred to not own music, but rather borrow it for a listen or two and pay a monthly fee to do so.
Musicians make a very small fraction of streaming profits. Of the billion’s of dollars earned, Spotify pays the rights holders $0.0006 to $0.0084 per stream, which is then divided by whomever has rights, like the producers, songwriters, label, etc., according to CNBC. Taylor Swift, for example, made around $390,000 off the song “Shake It Off,” which was streamed 46.3 million times. At last look, the song had registered over 283 million streams.
For most artists not named Drake or Taylor, streaming has no future as a revenue generator and so they’ve turned to touring and merchandise sales.
One avenue of revenue is vinyl sales. More and more bands are turning to selling T-shirts and vinyl albums, because people are buying them and it’s now about the only way, with ticket sales, a musician can make money off their work.
When RIAA began tracking record sale information in 1973, vinyl was king. In the early 2000s though, the medium was in a death spiral. However, in 2010, it began a resurrection. Still only a measly fraction of the market, vinyl has grown each year since.
According to Nielsen Music, in 2018, vinyl sales accounted for an an estimated 11.9 percent of the total market, an increase from 6.5 percent in 2017. Over 16.8 million vinyl albums were sold in 2018. But, that estimation might be smaller than the actual number, because a lot of used albums, a huge part of the collector market, have not been accurately accounted for.
Classic albums are still a hit. The top albums sold in 2018 were from Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Queen and Michael Jackson.
A possible flint strike for this new fire sale was Record Store Day (RSD).
Independent record store owners gathered together and conceived RSD in 2007, with the first one taking place in 2008, as a means to celebrate not only the brick and mortar hubs for all things music — where artists like Jeff Tweedy began their lives in music — but also to celebrate the physical medium of recorded music.
Last year, RSD had one of its most successful years. Nationally, nearly 1,400 independently owned stores participate in the April 19 event each year. Locally, we have three stores that will take part this year.
The one aspect that sets this day apart from any Saturday morning is the releases. Each year, a number of special releases are pressed and shipped out. This year, the list is enormous. Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters, Ben Harper, Jason Isbell, Prince, Busta Rhymes, Weezer, Elivs Costello and many more will have special releases just for RSD. Here's the full list.
Tweedy will have a brand new solo album, “Warmer,” out on April 13 just a day after he plays the Lucas Theatre on April 12. Pearl Jam, this year’s RSD Ambassadors, will also have a new live record out.
Of the three local stores, Graveface Records & Curiosities is set apart. Not only will the Starland District brick and mortar store have RSD releases, but the Graveface in-house labels will be putting out three releases as well.
“As for stores who are also labels, Graveface is one of the best, and they've been doing it for a while,” Carrie Colliton, Record Store Day co-founder said in an email.
There are only a handful of independent stores nationally, according to Collation, with in-house labels that will release special titles on RSD.
Graveface is, however, different both locally and nationally.
Graveface has four in-house labels: Graveface Records, which focuses on psych/garage/indie/shoegaze; NeverNotGoth which focuses on darkwave, goth releases; Terror Vision which focuses on horror/sci-fi soundtracks, and Graveface Records & Curiosities which is reserved for local bands.
NeverNotGoth will release The Essence “Nothing Lasts Forever,” a “totally essential dream pop/darkwave masterpiece from the early 90s,” according to a press release.
Also out on Graveface for RSD is Ten in the Swear Jar’s "Fort Awesome: The Complete Recordings.” "This is Xiu Xiu before they were Xiu Xiu," the release said. The jackets were screen-printed in-house at Graveface Apparel by Jeremiah Stuard (COEDS/Sins of Godless Men).
Out on Terror Vision is Creepozoids “OST,” a cult classic horror flick from the 1980s starring the incredible Linnea Quigley ("Return of the Living Dead"). The score has never been released on any format.
Rody’s Warehouse on Mall Boulevard and its satellite story on Habersham will also be participating in RSD. They open at 8 a.m. on the southside and at 9 a.m. in midtown.
“We ordered heavily,” Rody’s manager Mark Vaquer said. “Last year, we did really well. We had people waiting in line. A lot of people are collecting. People are trying to sell it. You get a mixture. It’s a big day. It’s super busy.”
The new Coastal Empire Records on Whitmarsh Island will also be participating in RSD. According to their website, they will open at noon. They could not be reached for comment by press time.
Vinyl is for music lovers. It’s a palpable manner in which to collect and own music and the medium is growing. If you’re interested in RSD, show up early and grab the good stuff. Chances are, it won’t last.