THE owner of a tiny record shop has had his best ever year thanks to a boom in vinyl sales – in Russia.
Mike Craig, 50, who runs Unknown Pleasure in the Canongate, sells albums and singles all over the world, from Africa to Australia.
But a recent surge in sales in Eastern Europe and Russia has given him his best annual sales figures ever – in the first ten months of this year.
Mr Craig said Russian dealers “fight among themselves” to snap up LPs by bands such as Nazareth every time items come in stock. And some Soviet sellers have even travelled to his store to buy in bulk.
Mr Craig, who started selling vinyl in 1997, said: “Everyone is talking about the music industry being in turmoil, but we’ve had our best ever year.
“Business is booming. I don’t know why it’s taken off this year. I think it’s the whole ‘retro’ thing – people love the sleeves and the artwork of LPs.
“It’s not even particularly rare stuff that’s selling so much as bog standard albums by people like Michael Jackson and Meatloaf. But the surge in interest from places like Russia has had a huge impact on sales. They love their heavy metal.”
Although a big fan of indie music, Mike does not collect vinyl himself these days and admits he has an “unsentimental” attitude to music.
He said: “I love Joy Division, for instance, but I had no hesitation in selling a copy of their first single which was signed by all band members, including the late Ian Curtis. I think that went for £1400.”
According to Mr Craig the top five most collectible artists are Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Joy Division and David Bowie. The top five Scottish artists are Nazareth, Primal Scream, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub and The Rezillos.
Music industry body the BPI says that nearly 550,000 vinyl albums have been sold so far this year. With a predicted end-of-year total of more than 700,000, 2013 is expected to mark the biggest year for the format since 2001.
BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: “We’re witnessing a renaissance for records – they’re becoming the format of choice for more and more music fans.”
With 15,000 LPs being sold every week, vinyl now accounts for 0.8 per cent of UK album sales, up from 0.1 per cent in 2007.