In the era of streaming, how are record stores staying alive?

By Ronan McGuire


Taken from stores

“Record Store Day” falls on April 22nd this year. Amid the celebration and the excitement that record stores have every year when this day rolls around, there is a dark cloud hanging over the record store industry.

First, record stores had to compete with cassettes. Then they had to compete with CDs. Now, they face their biggest opposition yet: the streaming industry. According to The Verge, the three largest subscription companies, Spotify, Apple and Tidal, have amassed a large number of active users, with Spotify claiming the vast majority of subscribers at around 100 million.

So how does vinyl still operate in a world where streaming is king? Well, as it turns out, many of the subscribers who listen to Spotify and other similar services are still not paying for it. Only about 30 million of the 100 million active users of Spotify have paid subscriptions. This leaves a large gap in the music industry in terms of where the money is being spent by consumers.

According to TechCrunch, it turns out that only 7% of money spent on music by consumers is spent on streaming services. The number one way people spend money on music is still through concert tickets. When it comes to vinyl, the number of records sold from 2014 to 2015 actually jumped by 30 percent, and accounted for about 9% of all physical sales.

Vinyl is not dying. It has taken on a different role in the era of streaming, but it is certainly not dying. This new role is one that couples nostalgic baby boomers and young people just discovering music that find the audio to simply be superior.

Urban Outfitters has profited substantially of this trend, and according to Time Magazine, they are now the leading retailer of vinyl records. However, many news publications, including Billboard, have refuted this fact, revealing that Amazon is actually the number one seller of vinyl.

Regardless, the recent boom in the vinyl industry has been good for everyone. Record stores may have undergone some tough times in the past, but in recent years, they’ve had something to celebrate. This record store day, two unreleased David Bowie albums will be available to the public. This year, St. Vincent is the “ambassador” to 2017 record store day.

It is certainly great to see the music industry come together to support indie record stores, and Record Store Day is just one example of that.

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