Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Vinyl music a thriving Columbus industry

James Arkin/The Columbus Dispactch

Kyle Siegrist opened Lost Weekend Records nearly a decade ago, during the CD era.

Vinyl, as everyone knew, was dead. But he said he opened his Clintonville store as a nod to Columbus’ reputation for having a “great record-store scene.”

Great, indeed. Siegrist’s store is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary, and vinyl sales are skyrocketing.

Nearly 4.2 million vinyl albums have been sold in the United States this year, a 17 percent increase from 2011, Nielsen Soundscan reports.

Jim Johnson, a local sales representative for Alliance Entertainment Corp., a music, video and game software distributor, said the market has seen a remarkable turnaround and that Columbus is at the forefront.

A few years ago, there were three or four stores where serious collectors and DJs shopped. Now, there are at least a dozen stores across the city.

“I would say the vinyl crowd in Columbus is just as hip as the vinyl crowd in New York or Los Angeles or any other major market,” Johnson said. “The people in Columbus are on the cutting edge."

Siegrist said many new releases are coming out on records, including the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift.

“Ten years ago, old people would joke that kids don’t know what vinyl is,” Siegrist said. “Kids know what vinyl is now. It’s the people that are 40, 50, 60 that don’t realize it’s back. So it’s flipped.

“It’s kind of a youth-driven thing, as music always is.”

Brett Ruland, owner of Spoonful Records, said Facebook and word of mouth have brought many customers to his store, which he opened Downtown in July 2010.

“People who are into records find the stores,” Ruland said.

The Columbus vinyl market even attracts out-of-town shoppers. Siegrist said he gets customers from Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh almost every weekend. And Ruland said international customers visit his store on record-buying trips.

Despite the competition for customers, record-store owners have a good relationship, Ruland and Siegrist said. In fact, Ruland created a map showing the record stores in the city, an idea he got from a shop in Austin, Texas.

“We all know each other,” Ruland said. “We all sort of have different specialties and different areas that we know.

“If you help a store, then they’re going to, in turn, help you out, send somebody your way.”

Steve Moore, 43, said he visits record stores at least once a month and owns 400 to 500 albums.

“You can hear new music, diverse music you haven’t heard before,” said Moore, a Pickerington resident. “You’re part of a select group that can even play the music. If you don’t have a turntable, you can’t play the music.”

Anna Carnahan lives in upstate New York but goes record shopping whenever she visits Columbus. She was shopping at Lost Weekend last week.

“I was a local music fan when I lived here, and you just can’t find it, especially not records, where I live now unless I were to mail-order it,” said Carnahan, who lived in Columbus when she attended Ohio State University several years ago.

“They’re great gifts.”

Another aspect of Columbus’ vinyl scene is Musicol, which presses vinyl records. Siegrist has used the company to press records for his label, Lost Weekend.

Adam Smith, house engineer for Musicol, said it is easier for local labels and bands to work with a local pressing company than with bigger, national plants. “That’s something most cities don’t have,” Smith said.

Siegrist said that direct link makes the city unique.

“Recorded in Columbus. Pressed in Columbus. Sold in Columbus. This town rules,” he said.

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