What does a £2,500 record sound like?

 

What does a £2,500 record sound like?

Audiophile Pete Hutchison has gone to extraordinary lengths to reissue golden era classical recordings in their purest form. He talks to Killian Fox about the price of perfection, the ‘digital con’, and the sound of a truly analogue recording

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/may/25/pete-hutchison-interview-new-vinyl-recording

Pete Hutchison in his studio in west London

‘It’s not just about vinyl, it’s about a whole philosophy’: Pete Hutchison in his studio in west London. Photograph: Katherine Rose for the Observer

Four years ago, Pete Hutchison realised that his record-collecting habit was getting out of control. From a young age he had been buying music across a wide variety of genres – folk, rock, punk, jazz, house and techno – but recently he’d been getting into classical music, and that, for a lover of rare vinyl, is an expensive move. Classical music tends to fetch much higher prices on the collector’s market than other genres. “In a single year,” he says, “I spent £40,000 just on classical, not counting all the other music I was buying.” One purchase that year, a rare box set of Mozart recordings from 1956, set him back £7,000.

Seeking to address the problem, Hutchison decided to take matters into his own hands. Since 1991 he has been running Peacefrog, an indie label that has enjoyed considerable success in recent years with acts such as José González and Little Dragon. His label’s distributor was EMI, which held the rights to a formidable collection of classical recordings. Through his contacts there, Hutchison got permission to remake 80 celebrated recordings from the so-called “golden era” 1950s and 60s and reissue them himself, via his new label the Electric Recording Company.

The first limited-edition repressings, three sought-after LPs of Bach sonatas played by the Hungarian violinist Johanna Martzy. They went on sale last November, priced at £300 apiece. The second reissue was the rare Mozart box set. A collection of the composer’s complete Parisian work on seven discs, directed by Fernand Oubradous, and limited to 300 copies, it will cost you £2,495.

These are no ordinary reissues. Hutchison’s purism as a collector, it turned out, was outstripped by his perfectionism in the studio. Many vinyl reissues are produced cheaply and quickly on contemporary machinery. Hutchison insisted on doing everything as it would have been done half a century ago, but with added perfection. “I want to have the best-sounding records in the world,” he says.

Naturally, this wasn’t going to come cheap. “The first challenge,” he tells me when I visit him at his studio in Notting Hill, London, “was finding and restoring the equipment.” A willowy man with long hair and a gratifyingly bushy beard, Hutchison is every inch the obsessive audiophile, and now he has the machinery to match. The EMI reel-to-reel tape recorder on one side of the room, which had to be fully restored, would have been used at Abbey Road to record the Beatles and the Stones.

The mastering console in the centre, also built by EMI, came from Nigeria – but the real find, Hutchison tells me, was the pair of contraptions to our right: a valve-powered tape machine the size of an Aga and a vinyl-cutting lathe, both manufactured by the Danish company Lyrec in 1965. Hutchison found the two machines “shipwrecked” in a council garage in Cheshunt, bought them for £10,000 and spent three years and “10 times” the purchase price rebuilding them with the help of veteran sound engineers Sean Davies and Duncan Crimmins, guided by instruction manuals Davies had kept since the 1970s.

Valve technology all but disappeared in the mid-70s, when the studios switched over to cheaper transistors – a travesty, in Hutchison’s view, exceeded only by the subsequent switchover from analogue to digital. “The problem with transistors is they sounded a bit hard and glassy,” he explains. “They didn’t have the texture and open top-end of the valve sound.” Now he is bringing that lost texture back to life. “These, we believe, are the only machines in the world capable of producing an all-valve stereo cut.” When they put out their first stereo release in July (the Bach and Mozart records are mono), it will, he claims, be the first all-valve stereo cut in almost half a century.

Having paid so much attention to how his product would sound, Hutchison didn’t want to skimp on appearance. “The sleeve and artwork design and manufacture had to be done as it was in the 50s,” he decided. In east London, he tracked down an artisan printer with a 1959 Heidelberg letterpress and set him to work. Everything had to be authentic, right down to the vintage gold paint and the silk cords, and nothing could be scanned: even the images had to come from the original photographs, which meant tracking down the photographers, or their children, to request permission. The 50-page booklet accompanying the Mozart box set took an entire year to make .

When Hutchison plonks the £2,495 item in my lap, informing me that it’s probably the most expensive record ever made in terms of manufacturing costs, I open it nervously and peek inside. It’s a beautiful object, and the attention to detail is astonishing. But has all this effort really been worthwhile?

Financially, perhaps not. Although he says he’s recouped 50% of the manufacturing costs for the first two releases since November (they are still coming out on a drip-feed basis), breaking even on the entire project will take a lot longer. “Possibly my kids might recoup it,” he says, laughing. Money, it seems, isn’t the main issue here. Hutchison tells me with obvious pride that when a writer for the American magazineStereophile got his hands on the Mozart box set, “he said it was the most expensive record he owned but by far the best. And that was a great accolade: success to me is more about getting the respect of individuals like that than it is about the financial side.”



Reading this on mobile? Click here to view video

It’s also about drawing attention to superior technologies that have been neglected in the scramble to do things in cheaper and more convenient ways. It would be easy to read the project as a critique of the digital era, and in fact Hutchison represents it quite openly as such. “It’s not really just about vinyl,” he says at one point. “It’s about a whole philosophy: it’s the aesthetic, it’s the sound, it’s everything.”

In terms of the listening experience, digital, he says, “is the great con. They said that CDs were indestructible, but they weren’t. They said it would sound better, but with the MP3 we are at probably the lowest point in the history of sound. It’s a compressed file. If you try to play an orchestra over a proper sound system on MP3, it’s just garbage.”

Hutchison has bigger criticisms to make about digital culture – we have become slaves to our technology; the distractions of mobile phones and social networks are threatening creativity – but, I wonder, is this project really the best way to get those points across? How effectively can a philosophy be expounded if it costs hundreds, even thousands of pounds to buy into it?

Hutchison acknowledges that exclusivity is an issue. “We’ve had some comments where people have said, ‘I wish I could afford these records, why does it have to be so elitist?’ The reason is simply how much these things cost to make – it’s a bit like Aston Martin making cars at a loss in the 60s. But I think now that the technology’s settled, we can look to do some stuff that’s a bit more affordable to some people.”

In July, the Electric Recording Company will put out its third release, a 1959 stero recording of Leonid Kogan playing Beethoven’s violin concerto, conducted by Constantin Silvestri. Further ahead, Hutchison has plans to move beyond classical music into rock, jazz, and other genres with a broader appeal, which would help lower the price somewhat. “They would sell more so we could press more and maybe do them around the £100 mark,” he says.

Still not fully convinced, I ask Hutchison if his products are for audiophiles only; or would the average listener be able to make out the difference in sound quality? “Anyone could tell,” he says. To prove his point, he places one of the Bach LPs on to a turntable and lowers the needle. Across a gap of more than half a century, Johanna Martzy’s violin begins to play. It’s not only the music that’s extraordinary: the sound is warm, textured, gorgeously nuanced. We sit in silence for a few moments, marvelling at the clarity. Save for a few little crackles here and there, it’s perfect.

Mills Record Co. arrives in Westport with an unlikely pitch: new vinyl

If you pay even glancing attention to the movements of the music business, you’re by now familiar with at least a few narratives. Nobody buys CDs anymore. Everybody downloads music from the Internet, usually illegally. Record stores are dying. But also: Vinyl is resurgent! (Sales are up 17 percent over last year, when more new records were sold than in any year since 1997.) What can be gleaned from this conflicting information?

For Judy Mills and Chris DeLine, the conclusion was fairly simple: Open a shop that specializes in new vinyl.

Neither had any experience running a record store. Mills, a local, has a background in retail but has worked a corporate gig in recent years. When the company went belly up, she recruited her friend DeLine, who was living in Nashville at the time, to come to Kansas City and help her open Mills Record Co. They settled on a Westport space — 314 Westport Road, next door to Dave’s Stagecoach Inn — and, May 3, opened for business.

“Judy’s lived here a long time and was in a situation where she felt like she could try something new,” DeLine says. “The pieces just seemed to fit. The shop is basically this partnership between Judy and me. We’re rookies, but we’re longtime music fans and we thought it’d be fun to try a little adventure here.”

Browse the racks at Mills Record Co. and you notice a few things right off the bat. One is that they’re peddling almost entirely new records, heavy on Stereogum-style indie rock. Other spots in town, like Vinyl Renaissance and Zebedee’s, offer new LPs, but a big chunk of their real estate is occupied by used records and CDs.

“We’re definitely going hard on the new stuff,” DeLine says. “That’s a huge part of our plan here. We think it offers a nice complement to working with the existing record stores in town, because that’s where they’re kind of lacking. So if we can keep pushing it and keep up sales, I think it’ll add a good piece to this city that’s missing.”

The store is also surprisingly cheap. If you’re like me, you want to support our local brick-and-mortars but have a hard time shelling out $19.99 for a new record when you can get it for more like $15 online. I still occasionally pay the premium, either out of a sense of civic charity or because I happen to want some instant gratification. But I tend to leave record stores wishing that buying new records was just a little less costly.

I did not feel that way when I visited Mills Record Co. on Saturday. I picked up a deluxe edition of the new Kurt Vile for $24.99 ($29.98 on Insound); Christopher Owens’ new-ish solo album for $10.99 ($12.14 on Amazon); and an old Walkmen album, You & Me, also for $10.99. The store’s system for pricing seems to be that recent releases are marked around $16-$17, but albums that have been around a few years — Smith Westerns’ Dye It Blonde, the War on Drugs’ Slave Ambient — are tagged in the $12-$13 range. As it turns out, that price drop is basically the difference between my leaving a record store empty-handed and my leaving $50 lighter. (How long they can sustain those prices while keeping the lights on is another matter, but I’m rooting for them.)

In Nashville, DeLine ran a music blog called Culture Bully, and part of his aspiration for Mills Record Co. is to establish an online presence. Not just online sales but also a newsletter; a local directory of venues, labels and bands; and a blog, on which he publishes a daily roundup of local-music news bites. He has spent the last few months brushing up on local music, and he hopes that Mills Record Co. can become a sort of hub for the KC scene.

“All of our racks are on wheels, so we’re set up to do in-stores and events like that,” DeLine says. “We’re really trying to work on that community aspect. I’ve talked to a lot of people — a lot of people in punk bands lately — who don’t feel there’s a home for them in town. We want to be that spot.”

Vinyl is the focus at Mills Record Co., but DeLine and Mills are making an exception for local acts. “It’s sort of unfair of us to expect everyone to have the means to print up their own vinyl,” DeLine says. “So we’re buying CDs and cassettes from local bands, in addition to buying vinyl from local bands. We also want to do some Etsy type of stuff — sell pottery and art in the store.

“It’s not easy selling records in general,” he adds. “But for us, the flip side to that is we’ve spent a lot of time making sure that if we’re selling new records, we’re not going to do it half-assed. It can be done — double-digit vinyl-sales increases across the board for the last three years. We think we can make it work.”

 

http://www.pitch.com/kansascity/streetside-mills-record-company-may-2013/Content?oid=3220605

Wooden Record with Radiohead and Velvet Underground

LISTEN TO THE WORLD’S FIRST LASER-CUT WOODEN RECORD; RADIOHEAD AND VELVET UNDERGROUND CARVED INTO MAPLE

Amazon ofer ‘autorip’ for vinyl sales

Earlier today, Amazon announced that it has extended support for its Amazon AutoRip program to vinyl albums.  If you’re not familiar with Amazon AutoRip, it’s essentially a way for customers who purchase physical CD’s and now vinyl records to get access to digital copies of the songs without having to the rip the album themselves.

Starting today, any customer who buys a supported vinyl record on Amazon.com will also receive a digital copy of those tracks added to their Cloud Player library, which is also available across a number of devices, including iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, the Kindle Fire, connected TVs, and more, in addition to the web.  Additionally, customers who have purchased AutoRip records at any time since Amazonfirst opened its Music Store in 1998 will find digital copies of those albums in their Cloud Player libraries – also for free.

“We’re thrilled to extend this experience to vinyl records,” said Steve Boom, Vice President of Digital Music for Amazon in a release this morning. ”Many of our music customers are vinyl fans and it’s traditionally been very difficult to make digital versions of vinyl records—now customers can enjoy the albums they buy wherever they are, not just when they have access to a record player.”

Amazon’s MP3 store now has over 23 million songs, but Amazon did not say exactly how many CDs and vinyl records support AutoRip today. In January (when the service launched), the service had support for over 50,000 albums and promised more would be on the way soon.

 

http://www.besttechie.com/2013/04/03/amazon-autorip-now-offers-support-for-vinyl-albums/

Vinyl records: Old tech sparks new demand in Franklin

Will Jordan, owner of Kimbro’s, a photographer and a vintage clothing retailer, has opened Carpe Diem, a record shop specializing in vinyl, the only such store in Franklin. Vinyl has had a resurgence in popularity in recent years. / John Partipilo / The Tennessean

FRANKLIN — A chalkboard on the front porch of Carpe Diem in downtown Franklin invites folks in to shop for vinyl.

Not everyone gets it.

Just the other day a passerby stopped in the shop to look at vinyl. Rudy Jordan, mother of the proprietor, Will Jordan, ushered her back to the record shop portion of the store, an eclectic slip of a place adjacent to Kimbro’s on South Margin.

“Oh, it’s records,” said the dismayed customer. “I’m looking for vinyl to cover a motorcycle seat.”

The ever-gracious Rudy offered the names of places like Joann’s in Cool Springs that would probably have the kind of vinyl she was seeking.

But those who do get it — and Will says they are plentiful — sort through his offerings of old records with great enthusiasm.

“We have a lot of teenagers, college students and of course serious collectors in here. On any given day, there are probably around 1,000 records in here,” he said.

One of those who does get it, Franklin resident J.D. Meek, terms himself a “serious collector.”

The 45-year-old systems engineer says he’s been collecting for 30 years.

“My mother says even as a very young child I would crawl over to the stereo speakers, listen to music and fall asleep,” he said.

In the late ’80s, he sold his big collection, but started collecting again.

“I have 1,000 albums … lots in boxes, but about 200 out and readily accessible. Vinyl just captures music better. I love the sound and feel of it,” he said.

The vinyl offerings at Carpe Diem include 45s, 78s and 33s and range from rock to country to recordings of presidential speeches.

Will says there is a real resurgence of interest in vinyl.

“Pressing vinyl now is expensive. In its heyday the master was made from pressed wax and records were produced en masse. Now, there are very few artists who use vinyl. Jack White comes to mind; he presses his own vinyl and they go for $30 or more each,” said Will, who has himself been a collector since he was a teenager.

“My mom and dad gave me their record collection when I was 16 or 17. I listened to one side while I read all the information in album covers, then flipped it over and listened to the other side. I’ve always been into music, and I still prefer vinyl to digital,” he said.

He maintains he hears more bass in vinyl than digital.

“You can really tell the difference,” he said. “Vinyl has a fullness that digital does not have. The sound is pure, honest and real.”

Bring your own

This 40-year-old guy, now a father of a teenager himself, owns four record players. He plays them in his shop and next door at Kimbro’s, an eatery and music venue he owns.

“We always have vinyl playing in the red bar at Kimbro’s. Oftentimes customers will come in here to the shop and buy records, then bring them over and we play them,” he said. “And customers also just bring their own for us to play.”

Seemingly a bit of BYOV (bring your own vinyl).

And for the non-record-player-owning folks, Carpe Diem (Italian for “seize the day”) can fix you up.

“We repair and sell record players. They go from $25 to $250 and they sell immediately. When I post one on Facebook, it’s gone immediately. We even have needles here for those old record players,” said the photographer-artist-collector.

This entrepreneur has become quite the picker. And not the guitar type.

He picks through shops, barns and attics (always by invitation) looking for old records and unique antiques, which fill the front half of his little shop. His picking trips include an annual sojourn up the east coast to Maine and back.

Few record stores

He says record shops are few and far between. He says his is the only one in Franklin. Nashville has several, including Grimey’s and Great Escape.

“Records are nostalgic. Playing them takes us back to different times,” he said.

The offerings in Carpe Diem, as far as vinyl goes, sell from 10 cents to $100 each, depending on quality and rarity. He offers everything from “Woodstock I and II” to the Beatles to Japanese imports of Elvis recordings. That vinyl is flashy, like the King himself. It’s red, green and gold — and snazzy. There’s a vast array of other recordings, from big band to presidential speeches.

Meek says he’s a regular at Carpe Diem.

“Will is all about quality. He has an incredible offering of all sorts of recordings, including the off-the-wall stuff I like. While once I wanted a really huge collection, now I want all the records I can get of really, really good quality. Will has that. He is all about perfection,” he said.

Meek says nearly every visit ends up in a purchase.

“Just last Saturday I found a pristine first pressing of a Chet Atkins record,” he said.

Will says he lives with many of the records he finds for a while.

“And some of them, I just can’t let go,” he laughs.

 

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130503/WILLIAMSON01/305030015/Vinyl-records-Old-tech-sparks-new-demand-Franklin?nclick_check=1

Great Gatsby on vinyl

Great Gatsby’ Soundtrack to be Released on Vinyl by Third Man Records

Jack White’s label will give old-school treatment to anticipated film music

April 26, 2013 5:55 PM ET

'Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby'
‘Music From Baz Luhrmann’s Film The Great Gatsby’
Courtesy of Interscope Records

The Jay-Z-produced soundtrack to The Great Gatsby is getting a release worthy of the Jazz Age. Today, Jack White‘s Third Man Records announced that they will produce the much-anticipated film’s music on vinyl as well as digitally. The label will also be releasing seven-inch singles of key tracks, including the boss’s howling ballad, “Love is Blindness.”

Listen: Clips from ‘The Great Gatsby’ Soundtrack

The soundtrack features new tracks from White, Florence and the Machine, Emeli Sandé and the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, Beyoncé and Andre 3000 and more. Jay-Z worked with the film’s composer, Craig Armstrong, and music supervisor, Anton Monsted for the album, which will be released on May 7th, three days before the film opens.



Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/great-gatsby-soundtrack-to-be-released-on-vinyl-by-third-man-records-20130426#ixzz2SmemPiJV
Follow us: @rollingstone on TwitterRollingStone on Facebook

Vinyl back in vogue as 18-24-year-olds lead resurgence of record sales

Vinyl back in vogue as 18-24-year-olds lead resurgence of record sales

Vinyl back in vogue as 18-24-year-olds lead resurgence of record sales

Vinyl back in vogue as 18-24-year-olds lead resurgence of record sales

 

It seems 18-24-year-olds in the UK are preferring vinyl records to iTunes and Spotify, if research from ICM in time for Record Store Day this Saturday is to be believed.

This resurgence of vinyl is almost entirely enabled by the UK’s independent record stores that are currently enjoying a period of measured growth after having declined in numbers from 2,200 in the 1980s to just fewer than 300 today.

In the last month, 5pc of the research participants had bought music in vinyl format. The most surprising finding from the research was that sales of new and vintage vinyl are biggest amongst 18-24-year-olds (14pc had bought vinyl in the last month compared to 9pc of 25-34-year-olds and 5pc of 35-44-year-olds), not what you might expect from the generation that has grown up with the CD, iTunes and online downloads.

The majority of vinyl buyers are purchasing second hand, and although there are specialist websites meeting this demand, 8 out of 10 (85pc) record buyers prefer to buy their vinyl or special-edition music in their local independent record store. In fact, the research suggests that having an independent record store nearby actually influences how people buy their music. Eighty-six per cent of vinyl buyers have an independent store near where they live.

But it’s not just vinyl fans who prefer to shop in their neighbourhood independent record store – almost a third (32pc) of all respondents chose it as their preference, as did almost half (47pc) of 18-24-year-olds. Ten per cent visit their local record store on a monthly basis, with the majority (78pc) spending up to stg£15 per visit.

27pc of vinyl buyers don’t actually play their records

Those who are engaged in music generally are more likely to buy in a range of formats. Of vinyl buyers, 52pc also bought CDs, 31pc got MP3 downloads, and 36pc bought luxury editions or box sets and, perhaps most surprisingly, 19pc of vinyl buyers bought cassettes in the last month.

Twenty-seven per cent of vinyl buyers don’t play the records they own, and although some are planning to buy a turntable, others say they buy the vinyl to admire and own, and the CD version to listen to the music.

“Independent record stores are driving and fulfilling a growing demand for music on vinyl – from new limited editions to second-hand collectibles,” said Maurice Fyles, research director at ICM Research.

“With the closure of many branches of HMV, some might expect that demand for music shops and physical formats are declining – our research rejects this.

“Rather, when there is so much music available to buy or download online, people’s needs from the high-street record store have changed. Independent record stores offer a diverse, interesting and rare range of music – and that seems to be the key to their continued survival,” Fyles said.

 

http://www.siliconrepublic.com/new-media/item/32329-vinyl-back-in-vogue-as/

Melodiya rereleases classic Russian albums on vinyl

Music fans themselves had the opportunity to select which releases should make the top 50 “golden collection” by casting their votes on openspace.ru.

 

Melodiya rereleases classic Russian albums on vinyl

While in Europe, young people are among the most ardent buyers of vinyl disks, in Russia the industry still depends on collectors. Source: ITAR-TASS

In 1991, Melodiya, the Soviet Union’s sole record label, put out its last vinyl release, “Neizvestny Utyosov” (Unknown Utyosov), a collection of lesser-known material by Soviet jazz singer Leonid Utyosov. Back then, the vinyl format appeared to be dead. Now, Melodiya is reviving it by rereleasing its “golden collection” on vinyl.

“The beginning of 2012 signified the return of the vinyl disc, which we can call triumphant, practically all over the world,” Melodiya general director Andrei Krichevsky told The Moscow News. International acts such as Radiohead release new albums on vinyl, while popular music shops like Moscow’s Ukeleleshnaya spurn CDs for records.

“In Russia, we can also see quite a significant interest in vinyl.” Krichevsky said. It was vinyl that brought Melodiya to the international limelight after it opened in 1964.

Krichevsky said that the label still has a huge collection of records on analog tape. The latter is most suitable for vinyl releases as it preserves the “warmth” of the sound, which is lost in digital recordings. Melodiya long used St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Moscow as its recording studio, thanks to the building’s excellent acoustics.

Melodiya announced its plans to resume putting out vinyl releases a year ago. Music fans themselves had the opportunity to select which releases should make the top 50 “golden collection” by casting their votes on openspace.ru.

Topping the list was “Geroi Asfalta” (Hero of Asphalt), the 1987 debut album by Aria, one of the first Soviet heavy metal acts. In late April, it became Melodiya’s first vinyl release in more than two decades, and the 500-copy run immediately sold out.

On the people’s choice list, “Geroi Asfalta” was followed by Kino’s 1988 “Noch” (Night); the soundtrack to the 1969 children’s cartoon “Bremenskiye Muzykanty” (Town Musicians Of Bremen); Paul McCartney’s “Snova V SSSR” (Back in the USSR), recorded live in a studio and originally released only in the Soviet Union in 1988; and Nautilus Pompilius’s 1988 album “Knyaz Tishiny” (Prince of Darkness).

It comes as no surprise that most picks voted for rerelease date back to 1987 to 1989 – a time when, thanks to perestroika, Melodiya shed its ideological bias and began to put out records by local rock bands, which previously had been available only on samizdat (self-distributed) tapes. These early Melodiya rock records sold millions of copies, and are still fondly remembered by several generations of music fans.

According to Krichevsky, Melodiya aims to release all the albums on the top 50 list, although not necessarily in the order they were voted. “Negotiations with the rights holders have a serious impact on the speed of preparing albums for rerelease,” he said. “Of course, we will first put out those albums for which the material is completely ready.”

The next titles slated for release are “Bremenskiye Muzykanty/Po Sledam Bremenskikh Muzykantov” (In the Footsteps of the Bremen Town Musicians), which will be a double LP featuring the soundtracks of both the original cartoon and its 1973 sequel, and a collection of songs by famed bass Fyodor Chaliapin. Several more reissues are scheduled for this summer, including the 1976 radio play “Alisa v Strane Chudes” (Alice in Wonderland), which includes songs by bard Vladimir Vysotsky.

But now, as CDs too seem a thing of the past, many music fans are dusting off their turntables (or buying new ones) and returning to LPs.By the time Melodiya put out its last vinyl release, it was no longer the only record label in the country. Newly arrived independent labels were quite active in the niche of domestic and Western rock. However, just a few years later, vinyl seemed obsolete, and they switched to the newer format of compact discs. Record collectors saw their hard-built vinyl collections lose their value as people increasingly switched to CDs.

The vinyl resurrection has prompted new stores to pop up around Moscow. Radiotekhnika, which sells both records and audio equipment, recently opened at Flacon design factory.

According to Yevgeny Ivanov, Radiotekhnika’s co-founder, interest in vinyl is partially driven by record labels looking to cash in as CD sales plummet. “[Vinyl disks] are not that easy to counterfeit,” he said.

While in Europe, young people are among the most ardent buyers of vinyl disks, in Russia “the industry still depends on collectors,” Ivanov said.

Melodiya’s Krichevsky disagrees. “Unexpectedly, the main buyers of vinyl LPs are young people between 20 and 30 years old, for whom it must be a lifestyle choice,” he said. He added that rock and classical music are the most popular genres.

However, all is not rosy for vinyl fans, as high prices concern customers and retailers alike. Imported records available in Russia are more expensive than in Europe, Ivanov said.

“Customs duties and transportation costs drive up the retail prices a lot,” he said.

In recent years, domestic artists such as Mumiy Troll and NRKTK have also begun releasing vinyl disks. But although Radiotekhnika purchases the bands’ albums from distributors, Ivanov said the cost is not substantially lower. “We’d like to see some breakthrough in prices,” he said.

Melodiya releases are not cheap, either, compared with prices for CDs. “Geroi Asfalta” sold for 1,000 rubles, which may not have been a problem for collectors or hardcore Aria fans, but was steep enough to put off regular customers.

Local vinyl releases would be cheaper if they were produced in Russia. But at the moment, the country has no capacity for vinyl manufacturing. Melodiya releases come from Germany. Back in the Soviet era, Melodiya controlled several record manufacturing plants, including in St. Petersburg and the town of Aprelevka outside Moscow. Both of them went out of business in the mid-1990s.

Meanwhile, Krichevsky is optimistic, stressing that qualified personnel is what is needed to launch local production of vinyl records. As vinyl sales increase, he thinks, young people may take interest. “I believe it’s just a matter of time,” he said.

First published in The Moscow News.