Archive for November, 2012
I’ve been asked several times why I don’t ask the bands/labels to provide something “extra” if featured in our end of year charts as others do and the answer is quite simple. It seems a little unfair to reward those who have bought a release already by giving those who haven’t an incentive to do so. When for instance we got the Rob St John remix CD I did say that anybody who had already bought the album could also ask for a copy. It seemed only fair. For most these end of year charts are all about marketing and sales while for Avalanche the focus has always been about highlighting our best sellers and in particular those that are maybe to some unexpected. I’m not against sales obviously and as has been suggested will provide a link to buy for each album when I revise the chart for the end of the month.
What I will be doing is contacting those artists that feature to see if they are willing to perform in the New Year probably in the shop but maybe with the odd proper gig. Again as every man and his dog seems to have a Christmas party these days it seemed better to wait and put on some interesting events in the New Year. I think we can safely assume we won’t be seeing Godspeed or Leonard Cohen though there is a cunning plan !
There is a huge amount to think about and thanks to everybody who has been in touch with ideas or simply support. Sorry to everybody I have yet to reply to.The merchandise idea is going from strength to strength and I’ll certainly involve those artists in our chart. I’ll also be looking to do some exclusive merchandise from our top ten Scottish bands since “Tigermilk” was first released an idea I first had last year while compiling a list over the last 15 years. Belle and Sebastian top that chart with over 20,000 units sold between all our shops and all their releases.
Not going so well is the selling things to people. Weekends have been good especially last weekend but week days are very slow even when we have decent new releases. We have loads of new vinyl, many of this year’s CDs at lower prices and the best selection of second hand vinyl and CDs ever so there is not much more I can do. Posters and badges are as popular as ever.
I’ll post an updated chart and hopefully have more news at the weekend.
We’ll have Flutes in the shop for an in-store on Saturday 15th December at 4pm
I’m always telling bands they should try to get as many outlets as possible for their CDs and we certainly always refuse exclusivity as I just don’t think it is the right way forward. As I’ve said before there is a plan currently for Avalanche to supply 15 of our best selling albums to 30 of the world’s best record shops. Phase 2 of that plan was to have a similar idea in Scotland and possibly further afield. Cancel The Astronauts did a great job with the list I gave them for the UK for instance.
Anywhere that plays music such as a coffee shop, book shop, maybe a vintage clothing shop I even had a Paris pub suggested but that is another story ! The worldwide idea looks like it will be early next year so I don’t want to delay phase 2 as with Christmas coming up and lots of visitors over the festive period the possibility to reach a wider audience is too good to miss.
There is a very loose idea as to how the logistics would work and the eventual aim is to have some kind of Scottish distribution that could deal with both ideas but that is some way off yet. For now I just want to gauge the interest in the idea. Again I wouldn’t be keen to give exclusivity to one particular coffee chain for instance but obviously if only one was initially interested we would not let others join later should the idea take off.
Clearly it would be daft to have outlets too close as well so for now I’m really just looking for notes of interest. We have around 50 possibles for our worldwide idea and that was just with contacts made in the shop or via social media normally twitter. This could prove to be just as popular or have no interest at all so I’m just putting it out there. To me it seems a great way to support Scottish music, add a little income and generate extra publicity for a business.
We actually sold an awful lot of the first Beirut album because a lot of shops, pubs and restaurants bought it from us and customers would ask what it was and come to us to buy it. This idea would just mean the customer could buy on the spot if for instance they felt the need to hear more of Mr Ryan Hannigan and the Star Wheel Press album.
Please use the shop email firstname.lastname@example.org and of course any questions just ask.
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING if that is the path they want to choose. My point is that if a band really does want to get word of mouth and create a buzz on their album then it is far better to get their album into as many shops as they can and have their loyal fans go in and create that buzz. With things selling so much less now getting 50 people to wander into shops extolling the virtue of an album is worth more than any revenue lost. What doesn’t work is have your fans go into a shop and ask if they stock your release and when the shop helpfully offers to get it have them told that they have already bought it from the band but the shop should stock it cos “it’s really good”.
I remember Johnny from Fence understandably saying how pissed off he gets when bands ask him to give their album to Domino or Moshi Moshi with the obvious implication that Fence aren’t quite good enough. Similarly we get bands who just hope we will recommend their release to Ian Rankin now their album has stopped selling but have made no attempt to bring it in before. When Sean Hughes tweeted at some length about albums I’d sold him the same thing happened. For the record I have no influence with Ian I’m afraid except to tell him what is new and let him make his own mind up !
Oddly enough I also remember talking to Johnny about singles and he again understandably made the point that there was no point Fence just promoting a single and doing all the hard work if there wasn’t an album afterwards to capitalise on all that hard work. Similarly for a shop time spent promoting a band’s first album they hope will be rewarded with more sales and less effort needed for the second album as fans return. That was certainly the case in all my time. Now that just doesn’t happen for all the reasons already well documented.
Things become more complicated if as I say a proper band is on a proper label. The rules of distribution are clear believe me. All parties (shops, labels and the bands) should stick to the release date. That this doesn’t happen so often doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t make a shop wrong for complaining about it. What is most worrying is that shops are scared to complain. The most amazing example of this going wrong for Avalanche was when we didn’t sell a single copy of the Found CD week one as all our customers had bought it at the gig and it took several months to sell all we had ordered.
The most recent example of the caution we have to show was the PAWS album. We simply waited to see if there was any demand left and then got some in straight away. We got the vinyl in as soon as it was available. Assuming the album has sold well the figures I published only showed how little went through the shops. I’m still surprised that given the support we have given Fat Cat over the years they felt no need to contact us at all which I have to say only two years ago would have been standard practice.
I totally sympathise with bands needing to supplement their fee if any from a gig with merch but there are plenty of other really obvious options that bands often don’t explore in the form of t-shirts, badges, tote bags, posters etc. In particular when bands tour an album for a second time it gives them something different to sell. Certainly Avalanche will be looking for a business partner to work on merch in the future, something we mentioned in our manifesto but only now has become a priority.
As for the amount of unpaid work we do promoting bands this week it was Withered Hand, Meursault and Randolph’s Leap in North Carolina while earlier in the week it was helping a noise/improv guy move from Upstate New York to Edinburgh. Most of what we do doesn’t come to anything more positive than new fans being created in another country but every now and again somebody like Dan will end up with a famous actor looking after him in LA and having his album touted to major film producers or Emily Scott will be recommended to a shop in Nashville. We have a long list of successes ! Some are closer to home as with Star Wheel Press and Ian Rankin.
Interestingly when I gave Essex band Dingus Khan all this “banter” when they popped in the shop they were very grateful thanking me on twitter and sending in a friend with a bag full of goodies. I’ve also had lots of supportive emails and bands pop in the shop to thank me for the time spent with them and the advice given so it would appear one band’s rant is another’s sound advice. I’ve tried in this blog to address various comments that have been made because I certainly don’t have time to respond individually. I’m still happy to answer any points this blog may have raised when I have time.
Several comments ran along the lines of why can’t we be more like FOPP, Rough Trade, Piccadilly or Monorail as they seem to be doing OK. FOPP are of course owned by HMV who in any other circumstances wouldn’t still be trading but are being kept afloat by the record companies with terms independent shops could only dream of. They can afford to take more chances with things like new releases while acting as a clearance shop for HMV. I have no wish to be like FOPP.
Rough Trade are financed by Martin Mills (owner of the Beggars Group) who is a major shareholder and has put all that money from Adele sales to good use. I can’t actually find a statement from RT ever saying if they have made a profit since their move to RTE so I can’t comment on that though obviously being based in London helps a lot.
Piccadilly and Monorail are both excellent shops though clearly, like Rough Trade, completely different to Avalanche and indeed many other record shops. They have larger catchment areas and I’ve heard of many plans over the years to open a similar sort of shop in Edinburgh but they have always fallen through as people came to the conclusion that Edinburgh was too small to support such a shop.
I invested a high five figure sum in moving to the Grassmarket and creating the space we now have. We have had successful exhibitions, film showings and in-stores and lead the way in trying to bring younger customers back into record shops with our posters and badges. We have had offers based on Avalanche being chosen as one of the top 10 record shops in the world and one of the top 20 niche entertainment brands in the UK. We have clearly done something right.
I’ve had numerous offers for other businesses / organisations etc to be associated with our blog and general social media presence and as you will see I have accepted none of them so as not to compromise what we do. I’m not against links I’ve just not been offered anything appropriate. As part of any way forward we will certainly be looking for business partners in some areas
So Avalanche will continue to be Avalanche while always trying to evolve. A lot of people will like it and some won’t and that is just fine.
Best to end the night with some home grown talent that can hold their own with the last couple of posts.
So somebody else made the same comments about Gashcat and thought the guy in the background looked like John Galm and so I found this. Excellent !
Sometimes the obvious comparisons are the best. Very good in its own right though.