How vinyl survived Melbourne during the pandemic

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Words from Deep Red

It’s a pretty obvious statement that the music industry has been hit extremely hard by Covid, but a section of the music industry that has been able to thrive – and in some cases thrive – in these strange times has been the world of vinyl and vinyl collection.

During the pandemic, I came out of retirement collecting vinyl records and started buying physical music again. I was interested if others had felt the same urge to jump off the couch and return to the turntable.

A common problem in the vinyl world appears to be pressing time, with pressing factories facing huge delays due to the pandemic. In some cases, smaller labels would wait six months to pick up a record.

But Melbourne has met both supply and demand. Zenith Records’ long-standing Brunswick factory is the established name, with Program Records the first new vinyl pressing factory in Victoria in 30 years to recently open. Small Run offers lap cut records for those looking for smaller amounts.

There are dozens of vinyl retailers in Melbourne, whatever your taste or persuasion. Some recently opened stores include Funky Duck Vinyl, where you can literally order pairs of vinyls and liquor online for delivery within the hour, and SoundMerch, a storefront with a great selection of vinyls that opened in Collingwood. only a few weeks ago.

With new vinyl stores opening regularly in Melbourne to add to the healthy number of established spots, options abound for music fans in particular, despite Melbourne suffering from the longest string of blockages in the world. But why?

I spoke to Zach from vinyl retailer Oh Jean Records and Jake from Damaged Records (label and online store) about the state of physical music and vinyl in these crazy times.

Learn more about Melbourne’s music industry here.

Zach, Oh Jean Records

Oh Jean Records

Vinyl sales are still strong, I mean I feel like this is the main format that people are looking for these days. If anything, the lockdowns have put the spotlight on the records as an investment in yourself. A tangible product that you can play with, cherish and keep forever.

With the money not being spent on more perishable items, people started investing in their collections so I would say online traffic has increased dramatically in that direction.

I think the vinyl world can always be improved, reducing overall costs is the most important point to consider, and if there are enough resources to meet global demand, otherwise I would say it’s in. a healthy place.

I am first and foremost a record collector. I have been collecting records from all over the world for over 30 years, and this story is part of my motivation. I think it’s easy to see when people aren’t invested in this passion, for me it shines brightly.

I think for record nerds like me there’s the endless search, never the feeling of being complete, which prompts you to keep digging. I love going to record stores and discovering something new or even just feeling nervous optimism about finding those “holy grail” items that we all have in our heads.

Jake, damaged records

Damaged records

We all know how affected artists have been by the pandemic and fans always want to be able to directly support their favorite artists. Buying vinyl or merchandise is a great way to put money in artists’ pockets. Considering we’re all stuck at home, there’s a lot more time to turn vinyl and kill that boredom – it’s a real homebody activity.

There are also a lot of great bands / labels appearing (especially in Melbourne) which makes the local music really exciting.

I think we were lucky as a label. Since we are almost full time musicians and tour for up to 6 months a year with Clowns, being stuck at home this year has given us the unique opportunity to work harder on the label.

I like to collect vinyl the same way some people like to collect books. It’s a physical thing that you can hold in your hands, see the artwork the way it’s supposed to be seen, read, and put it on your shelf to be proud of.

Sometimes I feel like I have ALMOST the same euphoric feeling blasting vinyl through bright warm speakers on a Friday night over a few beers as when watching a live band (big call) .

Perhaps, more importantly, if you are a big band / music like me, there is often a lot of information about the band or record written on the cover or insert. I love talking about bands, how they came to be, who they listened to, the scenes they were on, the labels they were involved with and how they contributed to the music ecosystem – it’s all tied in. one way or another and I love to bridge those connections.

I would say it’s this obsession that keeps me invested in running a label, it’s creating my own story and contributing to a music community that is very exciting to me.

Check out Oh Jean Records on Nicholson Street in Fitzroy. Damaged Record co and Agency is managed by the people of Clowns. Check them out here.


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