Archive for April, 2016
While most of this will not be new to regular readers or followers I wanted to put everything in one place if for no other reason than to remind myself to get on with things. Firstly that send some of Avalanche’s best selling albums over the last few years to some of the best shops in the world idea. First mooted several years ago now the original plan to send CDs has now changed to also sending vinyl and using the Avalanche label when necessary to make these albums available on vinyl. There is a great affection for Scottish bands all over the world and this combined with Avalanche’s reputation has meant that we have an impressive list of shops I know will support these albums if we can get them to them.
The plan is to press 500 vinyl and give 100 to shops worldwide free of charge. Another 100 will be given to the band and the remaing 300 will be sold to pay for the venture. It will generate worldwide publicity for the bands and of course the hope is that some of the albums take off and shops will need more. While manufacuring costs can be covered a sponsor is really needed to pay for the shipping. If bands already have vinyl that can be worked with too. Originally only for artists who self distributed I think the net would now be thrown wider.
Secondly I would like to put together a comprehensive collection of Scottish bands old and new all for sale in one place. This could not be done under normal shop terms as the vast majority of titles simply don’t sell quickly enough to remotely justify being stocked on CD or vinyl. Old releases will be actively sought out and sold at lower margins if necessary. Again for this to be viable it would need financial support. Certainly if there was demand for an old title we could use the label for that and the Scars album on vinyl and CD is a good example of something we are already looking at as a possiblity.
This last idea fits very well with the plans for a History of Scottish Music Centre and/or Exhibition. This has been covered before in a previous blog and been widely acclaimed though it does to some extent mean different things to different people. Several parties have shown an interest and I’ve even had preliminary talks with a number of museums about what material they have that might be of use but for now I’ll continue with the idea and if others get involved at a later date that can be only be good. It is an idea I see gradually growing and in the first instance I think a pop up is possible showcasing what might be done.
I’m very interested in talking to others who would like to get involved with any of the projects as clearly there is a lot to be done here and probably most importantly given none of these ideas are huge cash generators what is needed most are sponsors and investors. Clearly all these projects would be suitable for crowd funding but I would like to see what other interest there is first. Several years in the planning everything is now ready to go and hopefully will start to move forward very soon but that can only happen with support. firstname.lastname@example.org
Special editions of a release don’t create new fans. They either divert a fan from buying from one place to another or make the keen superfan buy twice. New release sales are now more than ever about having an edge. “Indies only” isn’t good enough and the further addition of a print etc will be needed to entice more fans. I see this all the time now with week one sales figures massively skewed to the start of the week as online preorders are declared. Consequently there is no momentum and the album’s sales quickly fade.
The album may then get another boost in sales as the artist tours and is sold at the gigs but the days of a great gig sending fans into shops is gone. It was clear that it was time for Avalanche to step back from this side of things. Creating new fans for a band these days is not impossible and as many will know is where the heart of Avalanche lies. So many of the kind comments I received when I anounced we were closing referenced artists that we had introduced customers to.
I still think there is a place for physical outlets promoting bands especially in conjunction with social media but I don’t think it is a commercial proposition to do so on a regular basis. At the same time there is still demand for a shop selling a wide range of Scottish bands beyond SOR local stock but again it would not be comercially sensible to do so. While my days standing behind the counter waiting to recommend a range of bands I think suit the customer are gone I’m well aware that Avalanche could still play a big part in introducing people to new music as part of maybe a bigger picture.
If the remit is simply to promote Scottish bands new and not so new then all the problems over new releases dissipate. In the crowded arena that now caters for the superfan, and indeed just the keen fan, positioning Avalanche outwith that arena in search of the new fans is a challenge that with support would appeal.
So no big news as yet and no surprises but we will be moving forward on several fronts. For those visitors or indeed regulars who want to pick up things we recommend or simply browse through a selection of local and Scottish bands there should be something up and running by the start of May back in our last location St Mary’s Street. Customers will also be able to pick up online orders. At the same time I will gradually add to the Avalanche online shop and not just with music !
There is great interest in a History of Scottish Music Centre/Exhibition. I’m in some fairly high profile talks about how this can be moved forward and should be able to say more within the month. What I would like to do is to have all available Scottish bands stocked as well as sourcing as many collectable old releases as possible. All in one place and for sale.
There is a wealth of of posters, badges, fanzines etc out there along with interesting memorabilia and as I’ve said before I’d would look to include a history of labels, venues and maybe even shops ! Obviously carrying all that stock could not be done as a commercial venture and ideally needs a sponsor which is something I am looking into. Anybody interested should feel free to get in touch.
Finally the idea I’ve had for some time about sending Avalanche’s best seling albums over the last few years to the world’s best record shops can now be given my full attention. Of course things have changed and while we originally envisaged it would be CDs I would now be looking to make all the albums available on vinyl. When needed the Avalanche label will be available to artists.
As always I’ll recommend online any good music I come across though the focus will always be on new Scottish music. The three best albums I’ve come across this year so far have been from Emma Pollock, The Filthy Tongues and Frightened Rabbit all they will forgive me for saying no youngsters. The bar is set high for any new young band !
Just to clarify a few things. While we would have had to leave our current St Mary’s Street location in the near future, though not before Record Store Day, I had a couple of good options to stay in the street but they only really highlighted it was time to move on from the shop format. Given the sort of shop we are the direct to fan trend has had a really serious effect but that will be less so for other shops though the figures do tell an ever more depressing story. PledgeMusic provide a platform for bands to sell D2F maybe more efficiently than they would manage otherwise but as can be seen with the latest Frightened Rabbit album release bands, labels and record companies are quite capable of selling directly themselves. Domino have taken customers away from us simply by having extras to offer without having to go down the many bundles route available from Pledge.
Obviously Edinburgh having a FOPP and HMV in prime locations in Edinburgh does make life more difficult but really their “pay when you sell it” trading terms are the killer. Add in their new found “support” for vinyl and it becomes a perfect storm. Of course they aren’t the only ones to have jumped on the vinyl bandwagon both on the high street and online. Sales of indie CDs have crashed so it would always have been difficult to fill that gap with new vinyl sales. I was very happy to sell used vinyl which was very popular and profitable but at the core we have to be a new shop selling new music and that was being lost.
Again there was an offer to have a decent sized space in the Tron Kirk but I simply had no interest in the endless requests for Pink Floyd and The Beatles. At the same time there was nothing but positive responses to the History of Scottish Music idea and that is where the heart of Avalanche lies. If the remit is to promote Scottish music old and new through a Scottish Music Centre/Exhibition then that is fine with me and all the aforementioned issues go away. How all this may work should become clear in the next couple of months but believe me from humble beginnings it is looking very exciting indeed. It will need your support but I have no doubt the enthusiasm is there.
There were so many kind words from all over the world and I will thank people more fully in another post. Given the current students’ attitude to shops it was gratifying to hear that Avalanche had played even a small part in people’s lives over the decades and that they had such happy memories. You have to feel that to some extent the current generation are missing out !
So more news when I have it and in the meantime I will endeavour to catch up with our online presence. Please feel free to buy stuff. Whatever happens there will never again be an Avalanche as was but I hope that what Avalanche stood for may become a part of the Scottish Music Centre.