If you are lucky enough to have an independent record store in your community today (mine is the fabulous Waterloo Records), you may not realize just how lucky you really are. For an independent record store to have survived the last 20 years is something of a modern miracle. (I think the Waterloo story should be a Harvard Business School case study, frankly.)
It’s also important to realize that physical configurations contributed to 25% of global recorded music revenues in 2018. Vinyl alone accounts for 3.6% of global revenue. But–all the majors have outsourced their U.S. physical distribution to a company called “Direct Shot” and the result is a disaster for this delicate ecosystem. I find it hard to believe that any sales guys had much to do with that decision–it has that extra special Boston Consulting Group stench to it.
The point is that the one way that it could be harder for retailers than it already is due to contractions in the market and streaming cannibalization is if the labels also contracted their stock, shorted them, or just simply didn’t timely deliver the records the stores ordered. It’s also a silly move for the labels–that’s a nice 25% of revenue you got there, be a shame if something happened to it.
This episode of the first-rate Future of What podcast hosted by the brilliant Portia Sabin is one of the first in depth public conversations on this vital topic. You may also want to read the open letter from retailers to the major labels that appeared earlier this year, as well as an in depth post about the Direct Shot debacle in the MusicBiz blog.