Avalanche has previous with Belle and Sebastian - Kevin Buckle

This week saw the announcement of a new Belle and Sebastian album A Bit of Previous, the first in seven years.

Avalanche has supported Belle and Sebastian since the very beginning - but it seems past performance is no guarantee of future results
Avalanche has supported Belle and Sebastian since the very beginning - but it seems past performance is no guarantee of future results

As usual there was an “indies” version with an extra 7in and as usual I was told shops would be limited to how many they could have.

In this case we were told we could have 20. Now given we have sold more than 12,000 albums from the band over the years and their first three albums are our three bestselling Scottish albums of all time 20 doesn’t look many.

Avalanche has supported Belle and Sebastian since the very beginning when we were only one of three shops and the only shop in Edinburgh selling their first album Tigermilk. We also used to sell the T-shirts they had left after a tour.

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Things, however, are never as they seem and the first thing to do is check what other offers are available for the album. Disappointingly, Rough Trade had been given a clear vinyl version limited to 600 copies which had already sold out, taking a chunk out of sales straight away. Over at Monorail in Glasgow they had an orange vinyl version that is also signed.

No surprise that the band’s label Matador are also selling the same version the indie shops have.

On the whole Avalanche gets a decent share of releases compared to other shops but record companies have no interest in past history so normally the bigger a shop the more they get. In this case one of the biggest players had more than 20 copies left after the initial rush despite never having been big supporters.

At the other end of course there are lots of new small shops who based on previous support and sales would get next to nothing but are given understandably if not fairly more than they deserve.

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Partly by design and partly by luck Avalanche has never been stronger but I have no illusions that there is any real support for record shops from labels and artists. I saw the conflict of competing with direct to customer sales a long time ago and diversified into music merchandise and working with illustrators and graphic designers.

Where the luck came in is that the vinyl back catalogue we have always stocked has become bigger than the new releases.

When Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die vinyl came back in stock we took 50. When the Deftones Around the Fur was back we took 25. Any popular Smiths album reappears and we take 50. We have 50 Gorillaz Demon Days on back order and nobody is telling us that we can’t have that many.

Older Avalanche customers will be glad to know we still sell lots of Slint, Neutral Milk Hotel, Radiohead and Sonic Youth and now with added T-shirts to choose from.

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The kids haven’t really picked up on Belle and Sebastian but for old time’s sake we will play it every day and see if we can steer the odd Smiths fan their way.

This week a young girl at the counter said to her pal “What I like about this shop is they have a One Direction bag at the door, a Neutral Milk Hotel vinyl on the wall and a Type O Negative T-shirt hanging at the back.” I’ll take that!

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