Back in the groove - can the vinyl revival save Camden’s record shops?

Neil Scott, manager of Sounds That Swing record shop. Picture: Polly Hancock

Neil Scott, manager of Sounds That Swing record shop. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Figures released on vinyl sales this month seem to fly in the face of a trend that had almost become unstoppable in the music industry.

Following a year-on-year revival and reaching levels not seen for more than a decade, sales of vinyl have rocketed in the last 12 months.

More than half a million LPs have been bought by music fans so far in 2013 and, with 15,000 being bought every week, it is estimated that more than 700,000 units could be sold by the end of the year – the highest total sales since 2001.

It’s a remarkable turnaround in an industry where new technology has always been quick to usurp the old.

As love for the old format is rekindled, record stores across Camden have been flourishing.

“Our sales have seen a massive boost, especially in seven-inch singles,” says Neil Scott, owner of Sounds That Swing in Parkway, Camden Town.

“I can’t even believe the number of new releases we’ve seen in recent years.

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“From only seeing one per month we’re now in a situation where there are 700 to 800 released every couple of years.

“Old artists are re-releasing their old material and new ones are now keen to see their work in the format. It means we’re now seeing a whole new crowd come into our store.”

According to music industry body BPI (British Recorded Music Industry), over a third of vinyl buyers are now aged under 35 – the generation that would have grown up with CDs and mp3s.

All Age Records in Pratt Street, which specialises in punk rock and is celebrating its 10th year in Camden Town, is another independent record store enjoying the revival.

“They’re starting to appreciate what the fuss is all about,” explained owner Nick Collins.

“I honestly think the record companies screwed themselves over by committing themselves to a CD format.

“Along with mp3s, it’s a digital format that loses out on the analogue quality of sound you get with vinyl.

“Listen to Jimi Hendrix on an mp3 player then listen to him on vinyl – you’ll also be converted.”

Add to that collectable album art and the “feel” of the records, and you start to understand what younger music fans have started to miss from their iTunes library.

It has led many to become hopeful that another seemingly unstoppable trend could also be stemmed – the demise of Camden Town’s independent record stores.

Rising property prices and the muscle of chain stores have meant many have disappeared.

Mr Collins said: “We’ve started to see mainstream stores start moving into the vinyl market and when that happens you know there’s money to be made.”