Kevin Buckle: Paolo Nutini’s album’s a hit but some are missing out

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It may be no surprise that Paolo Nutini’s new album Last Night In The Bittersweet tops the album charts this week, but the make-up of the sales is not what people will expect.

As I write my column on a Thursday night the figures are not the final figures but will be very close. The biggest format is compact disc, selling almost double all the vinyl formats put together.

The top selling vinyl format is the standard black vinyl currently at just over 4,000d sales. The green vinyl available exclusively from Paolo’s website registers a thousand less and three quarters of the sold-out paisley picture disc zoetrope version from Blood Records limited to 2.000 were in the UK and therefore registered.

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Lagging behind in last place is the Scottish shop white vinyl version – only available to buy from Scottish shops and not online – coming in at only a third of Blood Records total sales. What this means, of course, is that one guy selling novelty vinyl currently very popular with artists and record companies has been given three times the sales of all the Scottish shops. Around 15 per cent of sales were downloads.

Paolo Nutini’s new album Last Night In The Bittersweet is No 1 in the album chartsPaolo Nutini’s new album Last Night In The Bittersweet is No 1 in the album charts
Paolo Nutini’s new album Last Night In The Bittersweet is No 1 in the album charts
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What this means is that around half the vinyl sales went to Paolo and Blood Records, representing a huge loss of revenue to shops shared with exclusively online sellers.

Now there is nothing unusual these days with the way Paolo’s album has been promoted and though the support for Scottish shops is a little disingenuous it is no different to the indie shop support by others that is really no more than a marketing ploy.

There will of course be shops happy to go along with these marketing strategies, which is fine. Thankfully Avalanche has no need to depend on artists and record companies, which isn’t to say that we aren’t grateful for the pricing breaks independents are given meaning we can be competitive on price across a wide range of catalogue.

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Even these price breaks meant to help those shops with high street costs are often given to those with no such overheads or even just trading online.

Avalanche did have Paolo play in our Cockburn Street shop for the release of his first album. We used to get a bizarre number of people asking if they could use our toilet which for a range of reasons we always refused and there were toilets behind the Tron Kirk we could direct people to.

About an hour before our Paolo Nutini instore a young lad turned up and asked to use the toilet. Instinctively I went to say no but it was an unusual request from a young guy so I then hesitated. Thankfully in the lull that followed the young guy said “I’m playing here later, I’m Paolo” so any embarrassment was avoided. Avalanche will soon have been trading for 40 years, and more about that soon, so you can imagine we have a lot of stories like this.

I’m always amused when shops have “established” on their bags and publicity when it is a relatively recent date and even worse is the “vinyl specialist”. Avalanche has always sold vinyl but we still have many CDs in stock, especially as they are now such good value.

These days, record shop memories are bittersweet.


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