A record high

Local vinyl demand reflects nostalgic desires

The increased demand for vinyl albums has combined with supply-chain backlogs to create challenges for local shops and labels.

Although the rise in vinyl sales has evolved for the past 10 years, the layoffs and remote work of the COVID-19 pandemic have undoubtedly reminded music admirers of the goodold feeling of switching sides of a record every 20 minutes. Adele, Taylor Swift and ABBA are a few artists directly tied to the increase in demand for vinyl and delays in manufacturing during the last quarter of 2021.

Winnipeg store Into The Music has been impacted by backlogging for quite some time. Owner and manager Greg Tonn says delays in orders are between 50 to 70 percent higher now.

“I haven’t been able to stock a Black Sabbath album in over a year. Our suppliers say that it is available for ordering, but my orders date to 10 or 11 months,” he says.

Tonn also mentions that people who have been spending more time at home during the COVID-19 surges have been relying on various activities to pass the time. Reading and listening to records have been a welcome distraction. Through the store’s biweekly newsletter, along with Into the Music’s social-media posts, clients spot new and used albums that are back in stock, so they can reserve them in advance.

“Hearing music is one of those things that we like to do at home. When you take your time and put more effort into listening to music, the music you listen to becomes way more meaningful,” Tonn says.

The ongoing vinyl shortage is also changing things up for local artists in means of distribution. While artists in the past would typically release physical copies alongside digital versions of their music, many now aren’t waiting for vinyl albums to show up before sharing new tracks with fans.

“Often artists are having to put out their albums digitally without the vinyl, because they don’t want to wait for it. Vinyl is so hard to get that most artists are waiting eight to 10 months before their album arrives,” Stu Anderson, the cofounder and CEO of Birthday Cake Media, says.

Birthday Cake Media operates in three sectors of the music industry: artist management, record production and music publishing. Some of the names tied to the label are local acts Begonia and The Bros. Landreth.

Even though the vinyl shortage hasn’t stopped musicians from releasing their albums, it is still impacting a valuable source of income. This issue is especially relevant on tours, when vinyl and CDs are sold alongside merch.

While artists are still having to postpone tour dates and cancel upcoming concerts, which interferes with physical sales, fans play a crucial role in supporting local music.

“Go to your local stores and see what is in stock. Take chances on some local music that you might not be familiar with. If an artist you like is putting out an album, request it in your local store,” Anderson says.

Published in Volume 76, Number 13 of The Uniter (January 13, 2022)

Related Reads