Avalanche and Future Plans

The idea that record shops are living on borrowed time and at best need to develop into something much more than “just” a record shop and at worst need to just give up and accept the inevitable is hardly controversial. Whatever is “added” to the record shop experience there still has to be a core need for what record shops provide or there is no point in continuing. I was a big fan of the Ear X-tacy statements about how business was going and while for instance they could have constantly put on gigs to help their finances that as they said would be pointless if the core demand wasn’t there.  

Similarly if the core support is not there from the local music community then those shops that have a tradition of working with local bands need to accept that and move on. When artists and labels say they don’t owe the shops their support that I would say very much depends on which artists and labels feel that way. Those that have built up a fan base with the help of shops do indeed owe those shops some support rather than just say “well we have fans emails now we will contact them directly”. Those that have built up fan bases using social media sites and gigs over the last few years indeed owe shops nothing at all. As time goes on that can only become more the case. 

It reminds me of when record companies first started cutting back on staff and let some long serving reps “go”. Many of these guys had looked after shops for years often coming in on Saturdays (unpaid) if more stock were needed. If they came into Avalanche looking for a CD I would never take money from them. That would simply have been wrong in my book. Other shops might at best offer them a small discount and think they were doing them a favour. I never got that.

Other artists and labels think they have the right to ignore release dates, sell what they want and then belatedly offer releases to shops. Again yes and no. Those “proper” bands on “proper” labels through “proper” distributors are obliged to observe release dates as are shops. They just don’t and nothing is done. The same would not apply to a shop. Those not with distributors can certainly do as they wish and of course shops have the right to decide that it is not worth their time to stock the release. For those “proper” bands they can of course offer all sorts of incentives for fans to buy from them and so long as the release date is observed then that too breaks no rules. However they can not object to the phrase “actively encouraging people not to buy from shops” when they make offers “not available in the shops”. Again as a shop you just have to accept there will never be a level playing field again and see if there is still a model that works with the odds so heavily stacked against you.

For Avalanche we are very much now on the cusp. Many young bands don’t feel they need shops at all which is just fine so long as they don’t come looking for help further down the line. However for many there is still an ambition to have a physical release available in a record shop despite the fact neither themselves or their fans buy physical releases or frequent record shops. Downloading music is inherently unsatisfying as is providing releases as downloads but that is a dichotomy shops can not help with.

I’m a great believer in listening to our customers but of late what people say they want and what they actually support have become two different things. Twitter only accentuates this. More soon.

Leave a Reply