Sheffield shop Spinning Discs is ready to welcome you for Record Store Day

This year has been tough for the music industry, but Martin Black, of Sheffield store Spinning Discs, is still upbeat about Saturday’s Record Store Day.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 5:07 pm

This year, the event has been split into three new ‘drops’ of special releases on vinyl created exclusively for the initiative by companies such as Sheffield’s Breed Media, rather than the usual one, to maximise the support for independent record stores.

There are now more than 200 independently-owned record stories in the UK and the music retail sector employs 11,688 people in the UK across physical and digital music sales, contributing £402 million to the economy .

Martin actually pressed ahead during lockdown to increase the size of his business on Chesterfield Road, Meersbrook, relocating along the road from his original store.

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An early morning queue for Record Store Day at Spinning Discs earlier this year

He says: “We opened in April 2015, then in the lockdown in March we were closed and we opened up here in June. We took the decision to move from a smaller place to a bigger place which helped with reopening.

“We can do social distancing more easily in this space – it’s more than twice the size of the original one. I can get more selection in and more titles in.

“We sell new releases, reissues, reprises of ‘classic albums’, stuff from new artists and Record Store Day releases.

“It’s the third drop for Record Store Day, which is normally in April, then it was postponed until June. Then they decided to spread it over three days, which has been great for us, great for the industry. We’ve got some really good releases.

Martin Black of Spinning Discs in Sheffield

“Normally we’d have some form of event and tie in with local businesses like Create Coffee – we would have crazy queues in the morning.

“We have socially-distanced queues this year but we haven’t been able to tie up with other people or put bands on. It’s frustrating.”

Jack Stephenson is head of production at vinyl pressing company Breed Media, part of Key Production Group, based at the Workstation, on Paternoster Row in the city centre.

He is most excited about their special version of David Gray’s 12-inch Forgive Me, pressed in pink vinyl and presented in a transparent sleeve.

The special pressing of David Gray's Please Forgive Me for Record Store Day

This year has been one of the more challenging but ultimately rewarding in the company’s 30-year history.

He says: “It’s been really interesting. When we went into lockdown and bands stopped touring, we feared the worst, as they’d not be able to sell stock while on tour.

“If anything, the opposite happened. Throughout lockdown and further on we have kept seeing orders coming in. Fans saw the way they can support bands is to buy physical products like records and CDs.

“Cassette sales are through the roof, LP sales have gone up 30 per cent and CDs 10 per cent.”

Independent record store Spinning Discs on Chesterfield Road, Meersbrook

Jack says the resurgence of the cassette is partly because they are a fast way to put out new music, as vinyl production relies on a limited amount of specialist production plants.

Cassettes can be produced in two to three weeks, whereas vinyl production takes six to seven times as long.

He says, during his six years at Breed, he has seen vinyl production go from a specialist niche to something far bigger.

He credits Record Store Day with really helping to push the regrowth of an industry many had pretty much written off a few years ago.

Jack says: “It’s amazing to see how much it’s grown in such a short space of time.”

Martin says: “The first Record Store Day in the UK happened about 2008. From that point, if you look at the chart it’s grown exponentially. There was a steady start, then just ‘whoosh’.

“Universal, Sony, all the big labels joined in and every artist will have something come out on vinyl.

“There are a lot more independent labels, all wanting to put stuff out on vinyl. Bands such as Idles are wanting to do different-coloured variants.

“If you have a run of 250-300 it’s quite exclusive, so the bigger bands are making it quite interesting.”

Jack says Record Store Day gives a big impetus for specialist vinyl releases like the David Gray one.

Interestingly, both agree music streaming services promote demand for physical music products, which is perhaps unexpected.

Jack says: “I fully believe in vinyl as a way to deliver music. The 12-inch is a canvas for putting artwork on. To get that feeling is something you don’t get with streaming, as much as I am a fan.”

Martin says: “People always say ‘what do you think about streaming’. It is one of the ways that the vinyl side of record shops is able to grow.

“They get access to the back catalogue of artists they wouldn’t have done. They think, ‘I like that, I want to own it on vinyl. I want to read the sleeve notes and look at the artwork and who mastered it’.

“That’s not what you get from Spotify. They work well together.”

He says those of us who grew up with vinyl know what younger customers are rediscovering.

“Putting a record on and sitting down and taking 20-odd minutes out of your life to sit and listen to something,” says Martin, “you get the feeling of what the group have done.

“They’ve got together and decided about how something is going to flow and what they want you to experience.”

Spinning Discs opens at 10.30am on Saturday, October 24, for Record Store Day 3. For details of all releases, see recordstoreday.co.uk

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.