WHILE covid sent many Freo businesses into a spin, for those centred around the old-school turntable, it’s turned out to be something of a boomtime.
Vinyl records have enjoyed a resurgence over the past few years with over 1 million sold in Australia in 2020 – up from the previous year’s tally of 885,000.
People spending more time indoors because of the pandemic has only served to fuel the nostalgia.
For the past 20 years Mark Lahogue has been running The Record Finder on High Street, a shop his father launched in 1966.
Mr Lahogue says the demand for records is so high, he’s buying more than ever to keep up.
“Last shipment I nearly filled a shipping container. I could open another store with that many records,” he says.
“I think people get sick of skipping through Spotify and have a new appreciation for sitting down, relaxing and listening to the music,” he says.
He attributes a lot of vinyl’s success to the pressing of modern music.
“A lot of the records that were considered rare and valuable back then have been re-pressed. There’s a lot of new music on vinyl too.”
Mr Lahogue says there was a time when he considered shutting his doors as digital streaming became more popular.
“We just had to tighten the belt and believe it wasn’t the end of the world. Vinyls were always there, though. You had your loyal stereo heads who swore by analogue so they never stopped moving.”
Situated in the heart of Notre Dame University, he says the store attracts a lot of young students.
“I think the store acts as a place of gathering. It’s a place to come and relax.
“You really get your value for money with records. The artwork, the lyrics; just being able to hold something all adds value to it.”
Mills Records owner Andrew Bailey says vinyl is the best format.
“The sound and artwork; the presentation and packaging – you can’t beat it,” he says.
He’s run the store for the last 30 years, but it actually opened its doors in 1945. It’s moved around the city a few times but now has its feet firmly planted on Adelaide Street, just opposite the town hall.
Mr Bailey says when it comes to records it’s all about the personal touch.
“When you create a collection of things you like, you’re making a reflection of yourself,” he says.
“I think the popularity isn’t just generated by young people. It’s also the older generation that are getting back into it.”
Antonio Amaral is a Mills regular who’ll flick through the albums looking for the right buy. He says for him the artwork and lyrics give it a more meaningful impact.
“I probably have over 2000 records and CDs,” Mr Amaral says.
However vinyl’s plasticky young cousins haven’t fared so well in the nostalgia stakes.
CDs, which made up 65 per cent of the Australian music market in 2010, only accounted for 5.6 per cent of the market in 2020.
In the US, vinyl outsold CDs last year for the first time since 1986.
by DUNCAN BAILEY