Vinyl offers a change of pace ahead of Record Store Day

Mark Richardson, right, at last year's Record Store Day celebration.
Mark Richardson, right, at last year's Record Store Day celebration.
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Vinyl records have made a comeback and are here to stay as more and more people look for a change of pace in an increasingly busy world.

Both record shops and manufacturers in the region are seeing an upsurge in demand for vinyl with some retailers expecting queues at midnight for Record Store Day, which takes place this Saturday.

Turning the tables: Chris Black, managing director of Sound Leisure, which has seen a 500 per cent increase in sales of vinyl playing jukeboxes.

Turning the tables: Chris Black, managing director of Sound Leisure, which has seen a 500 per cent increase in sales of vinyl playing jukeboxes.

Leeds-based jukebox manufacturer Sound Leisure has seen a 500 per cent increase in sales of its vinyl playing jukeboxes.

While record store Loafers, based at the Piece Hall in Halifax, is combining coffee with music to get customers through the doors.

Founder Mark Richardson told The Yorkshire Post that even “younger people are buying records. It’s something that they are getting into and collecting for the sound and the artwork that goes with it.”

Mr Richardson is expecting queues of music lovers at midnight ahead of Record Store Day tomorrow.

He said: “We’re going to have people queueing from midnight. At least 60 or 70 people queuing for limited edition releases. There’s a real interest in it again.”

Chris Black, managing director of Sound Leisure, has also seen a widening of demongraphic when it comes to vinyl.

The company was launched by his father Alan 41 years ago and stems from him fixing radios as a hobby.

“People thought that Dad was buying into a dying dream and called him crazy when he formed the business in 1978, but demand rocketed,” Chris Black said. “Our first customers were Bluechip companies who were installing them into bars.”

He added: “We then found that older people who could remember the classic machines and who understood what quality was were buying a jukebox and installing them in their homes.

“Since the launch of our vinyl players our customers are much younger, with people buying for themselves or for presents, Jukeboxes have become a lifestyle choice.”

“Of course, there are now hundreds of ways to enjoy music in your home or business, but there’s nothing quite like choosing a song, watching the LP or 45 rise from the basket and hearing that record play.

“The theatre that comes with a jukebox is difficult to replicate with anything else.”

Loafers is also tapping into that idea of providing a theatre. The record shop has hosted artists, open mic events and coffee tasting evenings.

Combining coffee with music is a big part of Loafers’ appeal, says Mr Richardson. He set the business up in 2017, after a 20 year career in the insurance industry from which he was made redundant.

Mr Richardson said: “I just felt that putting coffee and records together in a really cool, quirky way at the Piece Hall would be a great thing to connect music lovers back to that passion.”

As well as music and coffee, Loafers also sell limited edition artwork.

He believes that nostalgia is a big factor for older customers but it also provides a change of pace in life as well as giving music lovers something tangible to enjoy.

“With life being as quick as it is these days, it’s an actual thing you can sit down and enjoy doing, listening to a whole album, which is how the artists wanted it to be enjoyed, rather than skipping songs.”

Downloads may have eroded the connection between musicians and fans somewhat but vinyl is helping music lovers feel more connected to artists. It enables them to support artists and for many musicians vinyl is the prefered format.

Mr Richardson, who runs the business with his partner Sarah Dale, said: “The musicians themselves are putting albums together with vinyl in mind.

“Primarily they want it to be pressed on vinyl. That format is definitely going to be as prominent as ever going forward.”

Despite this, he admits that vinyl will never outdo downloads because of easy accessibility.

Loafers hopes to expand in the future. Potentially hosting more live music events as well as serving food.

Back in Leeds, Sound Leisure employs 85 staff and the firm has a turnover of £5m. It has produced in excess of 100,000 jukeboxes.

Mr Black said: “I believe this time the vinyl boom is here to stay. Artists are releasing their albums on vinyl and the machines are proving so popular we’ve got a two-month waiting list.”

Mr Richardson said: “As a format vinyl is a beautiful thing. They’re like little time capsules that you take out of the rack. You put them on and they bring memories back.

“We need more of that these days. It’s a fast-moving world and the vinyl experience is like reading a good book. It’s relaxing and enduring.

“It’s a format here to stay and long may it continue.”

Record Store Day takes place on April 13 and looks to celebrate independently owned record stores.