How vinyl survived in Melbourne during the pandemic


Words by Deep Red

It’s a pretty obvious statement that the music industry has been hit extremely hard by Covid, but part of the music industry that has been able to grow – and in some cases thrive – in these strange times has been the world of vinyl and vinyl collection . .

During the pandemic, I got out of vinyl collection and started buying physical music again. I was interested in whether others had felt the same urge to jump off the couch and walk back towards the turntable.

A common problem in the vinyl world seems to be urgent times when presses face large backlogs due to the pandemic. In some cases, smaller companies waited six months to get a record pushed back.

But Melbourne responded to supply and demand. The long-established Zenith Records factory in Brunswick is the established name, with Program Records the first new vinyl press facility in Victoria in 30 years to open recently. Small Run offers lathes records for those looking for smaller quantities.

There are dozens of vinyl dealers in Melbourne, no shortage regardless of your taste or persuasion. Some newly opened stores include Funky Duck Vinyl, where you can literally order vinyl and booze pairings online to be delivered within an hour, and SoundMerch, a storefront with a large selection of vinyl that opened in Collingwood for just one few weeks ago.

With new vinyl stores regularly opening in Melbourne to add to the healthy number of established spots, there is no shortage of opportunities for music fans in particular, despite Melbourne suffering the world’s longest string of lockdowns. But why?

I spoke with Zach at vinyl dealer Oh Jean Records and Jake from Damaged Records (label and online store) about the state of physical music and vinyl in these crazy times.

Read more features about the music industry in Melbourne here.

Zach, Oh Jean Records

Oh Jean Records

Vinyl sales are always strong, I mean it feels like it’s the primary format people are looking for these days. If anything lockdowns put the focus on records as an investment in yourself. A tangible product that you can play, cherish and hold on to forever.

When money was not spent on more perishable items, people started investing in their collections, so I would say that online traffic increased dramatically in that sense.

I think the vinyl world can always be improved, reducing the overall cost is the biggest point to look at and whether there are enough resources to meet worldwide demand, otherwise I would say it is a healthy place.

I am first and foremost a record collector. I have been collecting records from all over the world for over 30 years and that story is part of my drive. I think it’s easy to see when people are not invested in that passion, for me it burns strongly.

I think for record nerds like myself, there is the endless quest, never any sense of being complete, so it makes you keep digging. I just love going to record stores and discovering something new or even just feeling nervous optimism about the potential of finding the ‘holy grail’ items we all have in our heads.

Jake, Damaged Records

Damaged records

We all know how artists have been affected by the pandemic, and fans still want to be able to support their favorite artists directly. Buying vinyl or merchandise is a great way to put money directly into artists’ pockets. Given that we are all stuck at home, there is a lot more time to spin vinyl and kill that boredom – it’s a real home activity.

There are also just a lot of great bands / labels popping up (especially in Melbourne) which make it a really exciting time in local music.

I think we have been lucky to some degree as a brand. Given that we are almost full-time musicians and tour up to 6 months a year in Clowns, staying stuck at home this year provided a unique opportunity to work harder on the label.

I like to collect on vinyl in the same way that some people like to collect on books. It is a physical thing that you can hold in your hands, see the artwork the way it is meant to be seen, read and put it on your shelf to be proud of.

I feel like I sometimes ALMOST get the same feeling of euphoria that blows vinyl through crisp and hot speakers on a Friday night over a few beers as I watch a live band (big call).

Perhaps, most importantly, if you are a big band / music nerd like me, a lot of information is often written about the band or record on the jacket or post. I love nerds on bands, how they came to be, who they listened to, the scenes they participated in, the labels they were involved in, and how they contributed to the music ecosystem – it’s all connected in some way, and I love to build bridges. these compounds.

I would say that it is this obsession that keeps me invested in running a label, it is creating my own story and contributing to a music community that is very exciting to me.

Check out Oh Jean Records on Nicholson Street in Fitzroy. Damaged Record co and Agency are run by the people from Clowns. Check them out here.