Music Business

Indie record stores are struggling with vinyl shortages, higher prices

Be careful what you wish for. Most of the new pressures being felt by independent record stores stem from an exploding interest in vinyl.

As if Spotify, COVID shutdowns and climate change-induced melting vinyl weren’t enough, big-box retailers like Target have taken note and are expanding their own vinyl sections.

That has meant that indie record stores now face more competition for buyers and price wars with deep-pocketed retailers.

Another major byproduct of the growing demand is vinyl and pressing plant shortages. While companies like Qrates are working to solve the problem, the typical lead time for an indie artist is now over 7 months – a lifetime in music.

Vinyl demand and shortages are also driving prices up, with a $20 vinyl record purchase pretty much a thing of the past.

“That’s the biggest bummer for us, too,” Kirsten Turner, of Wichita’s Spektrum Muzik told KMUW. “You stand behind the wall and hear people say, ‘$40 dollars for an album?’ They might think that we’re getting all the benefit of that but our costs have gone up, too. We’re not making any more than we were in past years, and I’m worried about how far this is going to go… Somebody’s making a lot more money, but it’s not us.”

Some are speculating that shortages and soaring prices could spur growth in cheaper to produce CDs and cassettes.

MORE: Climate change is literally melting records.

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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