Give us a brief history of Soul Brother Records… The store opened in 1994. Prior to that we’d been doing record fairs and mail order while I personally had been selling records on and off since 1971 when I was a kid. I had a business doing it part time for 10 years and I’ve been doing it full time since ’92. Basically the business
mushroomed and we decided to open the store. That took off throughout the ‘90s and the early part of the 2000s. Then, as with many other stores, we started to be effected by downloads, our friends Amazon and others operating from the Channel Islands and undercutting everyone. But it’s started to come back
again. In the last year or so things have really picked up, particularly in the store. The mail order side of things is still a bit depressed but the physical store is doing really well.
How was Record Store Day for you this year? Really good, well up on last year. It was the fourth year that we’ve been involved. We specialise in soul and jazz along with a little bit of blues and reggae and this year there were a lot more exclusive releases for our kind of music, which really helped us. It wasn’t a record day in
terms of turnover but, in terms of number of people served, it definitely was a record day. It is the busiest day of the year now, definitely, but going back right over our history we have had days where we’ve been busier. Generally that’s been when we’ve had a big vinyl collection and have sold a lot of records to a few people.
You said that business is up generally, what’s the reason for that do you think? Obviously you get days when business isn’t very good but
‘Amazon and HMV.com have put their prices up. That will definitely help us’
LAURENCE PRANGELL, SOUL BROTHER
generally, over the last six months, we’re well up compared to a year ago. I think there are a lot of
things we’ve done to cause that. Over the years the mail order side overtook the store and we focused our attention more on that. We had a separate office around the corner, which we were operating from and since the lease has been up we’ve moved so that we’re all back together in the same store. That’s helped enormously
and has given us a real inputus because everyone’s here and
we can deal with people far more easily. We also extended our range.
We put in a blues section, extended the reggae section and put in more vocal jazz like Frank Sinatra. That seems to have worked for a lot of the local people as well. We’ve also noticed a big
increase in vinyl sales. That’s gone up a lot in the last six months or so.
Is there anything that the music industry could be doing to help indie retailers more than they already are? I think they could be releasing more records. The one thing that has held us back so far this year is that there have been hardly any major label releases. You can only sell what you’ve
got and not having a volume of quality soul and jazz releases, particularly from major labels, has really put a dent in our sales. Most of what we’ve had has been independent.
You mentioned Amazon and other companies based in the Channel Islands - the LVCR loophole has, of course, been closed recently… Yes it has and I’ve noticed that both Amazon and HMV.com have put their prices up. HMV.com in particular has gone up hugely. That will definitely help us. It hasn’t made a big difference yet because it’s still early days but it will do when people work out that there isn’t as big a difference in prices anymore.
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