10th Nov 2015
A: The Chemicals Between Us
|"...to catch up on the missing singles that my pathetic local shops refused to stock."|
It's worth asking how anyone, even in 1999, could have possibly made any money out of selling 7"'s at £1.49. And the answer is : they couldn't.
Major label/band vinyl 7"'s like this Bush release were commonly punted as a loss leader. It would be sold to big record stores (Tower/HMV/Virgin etc) at major discount prices, sometimes even given for free, in the hope that the sales generated by new customers "taking a chance on a cheapie" would lead onto people becoming new fans, buying the album, t-shirt, tickets for live shows...that's where the real money lay (still lies), and it was worth offsetting a few thousand pounds as investment in the long term gains.
So, all good for the record buyer and the larger record shop.
However, it was an absolute disaster for small/local shops. Problem was, the major distributors weren't interested in only shipping 3 copies to "Joe's Wax Emporium" in Timperley (to make up an example). You had to buy in bulk to get these discounts, and Joe's WE would never have shifted 30 copies, even at £0.99. And if he only wanted 3 copies, then he'd have to pay full dealer price (typically £1.99 upwards), thus ensuring his prices were twice as high as Tower/HMV/Virgin's etc.
So this is Joe's conundrum : he buys three, sells them at £3.49 each, and no-one buys them as they're cheaper at Tower. Or, he buys none, and people don't shop there as he has no good new stuff in (and what he does have is waaaaay more than Tower sells it for...rip-off merchant).
Joe's shop closes down, with story repeated time and time and time again over the following decade.
The punchline to all this is that 15 years later, major labels are - with a breath-takingly bold hypocrisy - actually taking credit for SAVING record shops with their self-serving, self-consuming Record Store Day ruse, while (and this bit's a cracker) HMV stand on the sidelines bleating about how it's unfair that they don't get to participate in RSD !!
It may well have been that some of your local shops were pathetic, musicmasters, but many, many decent businesses were sent to their death by vicious corporate underselling such as described here.