Businesses great and small have had to adapt to the new world that has come with the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. They’ve had to adapt to stay alive and for most it’s been a painful and uncertain process. One type of business that was considered an endangered species for a long time before the pandemic may actually see better days at the end of the tunnel.
Mobius Records has been open at their location at 10409 Main Street in Fairfax since they first opened in August 2014. Like other businesses they’ve had to change how they do business, operating hours have shortened, curbside service is now the norm as with every other retail store, they’ve limited how many customers can be in the store at the same time, and they’ve even shifted their inventory to a 24-hour online store.
“We’ve gone from being a hangout where people can come and browse and talk about music to having to adjust our hours, having two to three people on staff, and on weekends having long lines at the door. It’s been a whole new dynamic in the last 10 months.” says Mobius Records owner Dempsey Hamilton.
According to Hamilton business has still been good, since most people are now working from home there’s been more time for customers to explore more music especially when it comes to vinyl records. It’s not just older albums that usually attract collectors, it’s also newer album by newer bands and artists that have also released their music on vinyl.
Because of that growth in demand there may possibly be a bright future for record stores like Mobius, a demand that has been slowly growing even before the pandemic.
According to a report from the Recording Industry Association of America last year saw sales of vinyl records surpass CD sales in the United States for the first time since the 1980s. Sales of vinyl records accounted for $232.1 million in music sales in the first half of 2020 when compared to the $129.9 million in CD sales over the same time period.
While technology in music sales continues to move forward and streaming is king, the prophecies of the complete death of physical music technology seem to have not come to pass. That desire for physical media has continued to grow, from its continued use in the underground punk and hip-hop scenes to collectors the medium was kept alive but barely.
Something started to happen in 2007 however when those vinyl sales began to grow and retail outlets such as Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart along with bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million began not only selling vinyl records but turntable and speaker sets as well. Even Tower Records has resurrected itself as an online record retailer, what’s old is new and interesting again and the demand continues to grow.
There are still problems to deal with as the pandemic continues, demand for vinyl is high but supply is low. Many vinyl pressing plants across the country have gone through several temporary closures and had to lessen staff strength due to the virus. Once the pandemic ends it’s possible that the plants will be back to full strength but nothing is certain.
That’s also how Dempsey Hamilton and his employees see it, they take things three days at a time since planning to far ahead with no guarantees of what next week will look like. But he doesn’t see the demand for vinyl going away even when people start returning to the office in the post-pandemic. Whether there will be a boom in record sales after the pandemic Hamilton can’t say for sure, but it’s a good thing for artists and labels as far as he’s concerned.
“Streaming like Spotify doesn’t support artists; they get so little from the plays unless they’re really popular. The money from vinyl sales goes back to support the artists and the labels whether they’re a major or a minor label.”