End times and a new beginning

In 30 years of Avalanche it has never been about the money. It was always about the music and more importantly new music. Not necessarily Scottish music just new music. Good, interesting, exciting new music. As someone who started listening to and buying music in the 70s I moved from Wizzard and The Sweet as a kid onto punk and never had a liking for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and their peers. Sure The Beatles were great and as a kid in Liverpool everybody knew someone who knew one of The Beatles but they were for a different generation. 

Now three decades later is has to be about the money. It still has to be about the music but it has to be about the music as well. Edinburgh council don’t accept anything but cash for the rates and no shop in Edinburgh is cheap to run. At the same time as we all know music has never been valued less and been so easily available for free. The propping up of HMV and FOPP with terms indies could only dream of has been well documented already as has the fact record companies, labels and artists all now want a share of a cake that gets smaller every year.

Against this backdrop there has to be a plan for the future. Not a survival plan but something more positive than that. So what are the options ? Edinburgh Council has recognised that looking “cool” to tourists is a good thing and have a brochure to that effect out later in the year in which they have asked to feature Avalanche but whether their plans to help with council buildings or have a creative quarter like so many other cities comes to anything is a big “if” indeed.

We could find somewhere not so central with a rateable value under £10K and therefore not pay any rates at all under the council’s scheme to help small businesses. It would give people a base to visit and while I’m not totally against it it would need to be about more than just surviving.

We could find bigger premises in conjunction with other like minded businesses. If this was the case I can no longer take the risk of leading the way. There is interest in this from others and I’d be keen to hear from anybody else who thought they had something to bring to the idea. 

We could “go online”. Not in a sad selling on Amazon/eBay kinda way but developing the website to cover Scottish music comprehensively and using our strong social media presence in a way nobody else is really doing at the moment. Again others have expressed an interest in being part of this option without compromising what Avalanche stands for. 

Lastly and by no means least we crowdfund or possibly Pledge. I have had offers of investment but what is needed is customers as well as investment and involving customers ticks both boxes. I’m interested in the Pledge model and know Benji Rodgers the founder and president from his indie band days.  As part of the council involvement I spoke to various agencies, which is a blog in itself, but when it came to funding even they suggested that with a worldwide brand we should raise funds this way. It would be a case of how we pitched it given we will also be doing more with the label, looking to commission posters and have a couple of other merchandise ideas in the pipeline too.  

Whatever we do we will need to sell stuff and therein lies the problem. Dan’s Withered Hand album this year may be the last album we ever sell in any quantity. Scott very kindly tweeted our link for the Owl John album but as soon as Warners own site listed the album at a price we couldn’t match and with a signed poster sales just stopped. We have an indies only James Yorkston vinyl and again James publicised we had it not once but twice but Domino his label are very efficient at taking sales for themselves. And so it goes on. Today We Were Promised Jetpacks put their album up for presale and we were immediately offered tote bags and t-shirts to help compete and the guys tweeted we had them but it is an uphill battle achieving sales anything like they used to be. 

Which brings us to the Twilight Sad and their new album. As I said in the last short blog it will be more important than they can ever know. Sure there will be an indies only vinyl but that will be available from the band and their label too.  Whether I sell 20 or 200 is completely out of my hands depending on what is available to fans. Again I know I can count on their support but understandably fans will go with the best offer they can get.

And that in turn brings us back to making money. If we can’t sell a lot of these albums with great support from the artists themselves then more than a major rethink is needed. Our destiny has to be in our hands and I do have thoughts on how that can be achieved. I’ve really just touched the surface here but I need to move forward quickly now and encourage folk to add to all the input I’ve already received. 

This break has done me a power of good and let me see things in a new way. We hold our own best online now but there is also a huge amount of goodwill towards the shop and in particular a need for a physical presence. Can I just say a general thank you for what have been some very kind comments and apologise for not replying individually to everyone. I really do appreciate the thought people have put in to our future as well as understanding both Avalanche’s history and what makes us tick.

Cheers

Kevin

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