‘I think people are realising the sound quality is better’ – Vinyl revolution for Stevenage retailer

Andy Oaten from David's Music is getting behind Record Store Day.

Andy Oaten from David's Music is getting behind Record Store Day. - Credit: Archant

What goes around comes around – and all the experts who confidently consigned vinyl records to the dustbin of history because of advances in technology are having to think again.

Revolution Records owner Brian Keay says more people are realising the sound quality on vinyl is bet

Revolution Records owner Brian Keay says more people are realising the sound quality on vinyl is better. - Credit: Archant

Whether it was the cassette, the CD or the introduction of downloads, each step forward in music delivery technology was considered another nail in the coffin for the notoriously fragile vinyl recording.

But the classic format refused to die, with canny businesses forging a profitable niche for themselves serving the diehards who preferred the format.

And now even major players in the industry are getting back on board, being forced to eat their words because the customer is always right – and the customer wants vinyl.

Pure Entertainment in Stevenage’s Old Town is one independent retailer which has just made the switch to specialising in vinyl, which was previously a sideline to CD sales.

Andy Oaten from David's Music in Letchworth.

Andy Oaten from David's Music in Letchworth. - Credit: Archant


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Increasing demand and high sales for the old style LPs – including a first release Pink Floyd album which changed hands at £300 – have prompted owner Brian Keay to rebrand as Revolution Records, selling secondhand classics and contemporary re-released titles from its Middle Row base.

Rock from the 1970s is the biggest hit, with Brian admitting: “Youngsters today are listening to the bands I was into 45 years ago, Led Zeppelin and stuff like that.”

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Revolution Records – which is also aiming to stock music from local bands – is a product of a growing appetite for old-fashioned vinyl records.

Annual vinyl sales grew 800 per cent between 2007 to 2014, while supermarket giant Tesco stocked LPs again during last year’s Christmas period.

Hannah Fishwick, assistant manager with vinyl at Humanitas in Hitchin.

Hannah Fishwick, assistant manager with vinyl at Humanitas in Hitchin. - Credit: Archant

Brian says that simple sound quality is the key to the remarkable revival.

He said: “Vinyl is so much better in terms of sound quality. I think people are starting to realise that.

“Also, it’s a physical product where you can read the sleeve notes and look at the cover artwork.”

As far as the team at David’s Music in Letchworth is concerned, vinyl never went away.

The Eastcheap shop has been selling music in the classic LP format for more than 50 years but manager Andy Oaten has still been taken by surprise by the recent spike in sales.

He said: “We are now selling vinyl and CDs in similar numbers, but vinyl will soon take the lead.”

Andy credits Record Store Day – coming up on Saturday, April 16, and held each year to celebrate the culture of independent record stores – as a key ingredient in the success story.

He said: “Record Store Day has put vinyl records back on the map. Last year we had people camping overnight and queuing out the door to get their hands on the rare records.”

Asked to explain the vinyl craze Andy said: “Modern music went too digital. The music became soulless – vinyl music is warm and soulful.”

The Humanitas charity shop in Hitchin is a more recent convert – the Bucklersbury store started stocking vinyl last year for a trial period, but made them a permanent as sales skyrocketed.

Music manager Paul Wade said: “There is massive demand to produce it. The more we sold the more we had to get in.

“There is something romantic about listening to a record in its entirety, some of that got lost in the iPod and MP3 age.”

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