By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
Some may call Bruce Watson crazy, but most are praising his name and offering words of gratitude.
In a world full of mp3s, iPods and clouds, Watson just opened The End of All Music, a record store – an all-vinyl record store, at that – in Oxford.
Thanks to a rise in vinyl record sales and a demand for a record store in Oxford, Watson knew it was time to open up a shop.
“I think the time is now,” he said. “Vinyl sales are at the highest they’ve been since 1991. Vinyl’s a tangible object. You look at the album art; it sounds better. There’s a whole new generation of kids who are into vinyl.”
Watson should know all about the medium.
He used to own a vinyl record shop, Blue Heaven, in Water Valley, and he’s the general manager at Fat Possum Records, home to bluesmen like Junior Kimbrough and T-Model Ford and indie darlings like Yuck, Tennis and The Felice Brothers. In fact, most of the vinyl in The End of All Music is used, but there is a big stock of new records – including all Fat Possum releases.
“I grew up in the era of vinyl,” Watson said. “I just never stopped listening to it. It’s always been my preferred format.”
Into the future
At the store’s grand opening this past weekend, it was standing room only to hear in-store performances and pick up new and used records.
David Swider, the store’s only other employee, said most of the sales were in used vinyl, some new vinyl and a few CDs.
“CD sales are dying,” Watson said. “They’ll always be around, in some form or fashion, but it’ll always be digital and vinyl.”
Oxford has plenty of local bands and venues, but has been without a music shop for six years, Watson said. Fans may be downloading more music, but as far as artists and record labels are concerned, physical record shops are where it’s at.
“If we can’t have an indie record store in this town – I just didn’t understand,” he said. “At Fat Possum, our life blood is the small, indie record store. We bend over backward for them. You can’t really have a thriving local music scene without a record shop.”
The End of All Music plans future in-store performances, and will participate in Record Store Day on April 21, with performances and Record Store Day-only releases.
The store also carries record players for anyone looking to get into the medium.
The End of All Music isn’t the only place to buy vinyl. Greatest Hits, a used book, movie, games and record store in Tupelo, has a large collection of mostly used but some new vinyl, while Album Alley keeps a small stock of new vinyl on its shelves.
A QUICK GUIDE to starting and maintaining a record collection:
CHECK OUT THE VINYL in the store before you purchase it. Look for dirt and scratches, and if the store allows, give the record a quick spin. Both The End of All Music and Greatest Hits encourage this.
TRY TO KEEP DUST AND DIRT OUT OF THE GROOVES – no touching the playing surface – and return the album to its paper sleeve after listening. Protect the album jacket with a plastic sleeve.
STORE RECORDS VERTICALLY and away from heat sources.
MANY MUSIC STORES, including End of All Music, sell vinyl cleaning kits, but solutions can be made at home, too.
PAY MORE FOR A BETTER SOUND? Some records are made at a heavier weight – 180 grams – and sound better, but are a bit more expensive.
SOURCES: Bruce Watson, vinylville.tripod