Problem for shops is bands want to sell albums direct to fans first - Kevin Buckle

The Rah's are set to play La Belle Angele on Saturday, April 27The Rah's are set to play La Belle Angele on Saturday, April 27
The Rah's are set to play La Belle Angele on Saturday, April 27

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I received a request this week from East Lothian band The Rah’s, pictured, to stock their new album which came out recently, but sadly that falls foul of the criteria for what we stock in that we need to have any title in time for its release, and we need the information in advance so we can decide whether to presell it online.

To be fair they had got in touch soon after the release when by far the most common scenario these days is for an artist to wait a couple of months and sell as many as they can to their fans and then only when there is nobody left to buy it offer it to shops.

Another mistake they had made was to give one shop an exclusive signed version when again the policy at Avalanche is that we have to be able to offer our customers the best versions available of an album locally.

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I say locally because if this was adopted wider we would hardly stock anything as labels and artists now as a matter of course take an “indies exclusive” for themselves to sell online adding further benefits to tempt fans away from shops.

I am occasionally asked why we don’t support local bands any more and the answer is simply they don’t support us. In our 40 years shops have come and gone saying they support local artists but really when a new shop starts it is just a way to attract customers. The problem is these shops are promoting newly released albums both local and otherwise every week so an artist might get a short spell of sales but then quickly be selling nothing at all.

On the other hand Avalanche’s approach has been to support bands over many months and often years with the twin approach of playing in the shop and recommending to customers. We still work with a few bands successfully with none more so than There Will Be Fireworks, but generally artists and labels now want all the sales to fans to themselves and then expect shops to create new fans for them.

The problem these days is shops are always trying to gain an advantage over their fellow shops while Avalanche has been able to rely on who we are and our history. We still regularly get customers in the shop who want to say they have bought an album from some of the artists we have supported over the years, from Belle and Sebastian to Frightened Rabbit, but there appears to be little knowledge or interest in newer bands and from what I can tell the reason is that for all the internet gives a massive reach to even the smallest artists the worldwide profile of Scottish music has declined over the years.

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It was disappointing to read that The Rah’s had had their gigs in Newcastle, Manchester and London cancelled due to poor ticket sales but again this reflects more on how difficult it is to get young folk out to gigs these days than any fault of the band. If you would like to support the band you can see them play La Belle Angele next Saturday (April 27) and they have some reasonably priced bundles of vinyl and t-shirts at