According to the Vinyl Alliance, a quick survey amongst their members shows the commitment and resilience of the industry.
As if the vinyl record industry hadn’t suffered enough in the wake of February’s disastrous Apollo Masters fire, along comes a global pandemic. The fallout of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is hitting the entire economy hard, and the vinyl record industry is certainly no exception.
The industry is feeling an immediate impact with a decrease in consumer demand, closed stores, limited production, and transport bans. On the face of things, it all looks pretty bleak, as even though many physical stores divert to selling online, sales are still expected to drop. Especially since Amazon (one of the biggest vinyl record dealers) has temporarily moved its focus away from non-essential products.
But it’s not all bad news, as the Vinyl Alliance discover after checking in with its members. Here are a few snippets from their recent press release:
The impact on retail is undoubtedly significant, however, readers can take some comfort in knowing that most pressing plants are still up and running. “We’re working at 75% capacity, mainly because of backlog orders,” says Michal Sterba, CEO of GZ Media “but new orders are down by 50%”. The situation is similar to MPO in France and is most likely the same for pressing plants worldwide. Labels are still committed to vinyl and postpone new releases rather than cancel them.
The biggest issue is the broken supply chain. Lockdown of air travel and reduced transport capacities led to a sharp increase in shipping rates and delays. Transport between pressing plants, dealers and end customers is becoming expensive, even if there is demand as Robert Morgan-Males, CEO of Audio-Technica Europe explains. “We have an increased demand for certain products such as headphones and headsets, and still ship some orders for turntables and cartridges. However, delivery across borders is either too unpredictable or simply not possible at all. Managing incoming shipments is also challenging.”
The Vinyl business has one big advantage: it is blessed with loyal fans, otherwise, the format could not have survived first the rise of the CD and then of music streaming.Bryan Ekus – The Vinyl Alliance
Loyal Fans and the Resilience of the Vinyl Community
Clearly, there are challenging times ahead. The world hasn’t seen such a dramatic impact on the global economy since World War II. The result is a significant and swift change to our daily lives that was never going to pass unnoticed, and I’m certain there will be a few casualties along the way. In the long run, however, I remain optimistic about the future of a strong vinyl industry. Just as the industry quickly reacted and united in the aftermath surrounding the Apollo fire, there plenty of reasons to suggest this will be a temporary blip.
The Vinyl Alliance appear to share a similar sense of optimism, as also suggested in their recent press statement:
“The Vinyl business has one big advantage”, they exclaim. “It is blessed with loyal fans, otherwise, the format could not have survived first the rise of the CD and then of music streaming. The current crisis proves this once more. Collectors use their time at home to re-organise records, discover hidden gems, or simply to give their disks a thorough cleaning. Others dig up old record players in their attic and refurbish them.”
Christen Nielsen, CEO of Vinyl Alliance member, Ortofon backs up this sentiment profusely. “Vinyl is a great way for people to help their favourite artist, especially if they had to cancel a concert or tour. And even if they cannot afford to buy new records, they find other ways. For example, there are online trends, such as showcasing your most beloved record and the store you bought it in. This is a great way to show the artist and the store some love and give them free publicity.”
The final comments from Ortofon ring clear and true. After all, we have to believe this situation is temporary. Throughout which, music remains as integral to our daily lives as it ever has (if not more so). The Sound Matters website has experienced no drop in traffic as a result of this crisis, and if anything, we’ve actually seen a slight increase in visitors. This would appear to back up the Vinyl Alliances’ suggestion that record collectors are using this downtime constructively to organize, maintain, and care for their existing collection.
The vinyl community (including the great manufactures and brands behind the products we enjoy to enhance our hobby) are extraordinarily driven, passionate, and resourceful. Once the sun sets on this regrettable period of human history, I remain confident in the industry’s ability to bounce back. For now, keep spinning and stay safe.