​The smoke and mirrors of record store sales figures - Kevin Buckle

​There is a plethora of music charts these days, but one that artists and record companies like to pay attention to is the Official Record Store Chart.

People understandably but mistakenly think this is what is selling in record shops, when actually it is a chart of what record shops have sold including all their online sales.

The chart is further skewed by the fact that a small number of shops specialise in pushing new releases, often based on having something limited that is unavailable elsewhere.

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Virtually every release these days will have an indies or indies/HMV only version and these versions will be further specialised by adding limited elements, while for some releases an entirely different version will also be available from a particular shop.

This scrambling around to try to convince customers that a shop has the version they must buy online is something I’ve never been keen on, especially since we have been in the Waverley Market where we are busy enough just trying to keep up with shop sales.

Some shops do put a lot of effort into new releases and nobody does this better than Banquet Records in Kingston with their in-stores and out-stores based in nearby venues, while others rely more on simply having an exclusive format and mailing lists.

Last week’s chart, however, highlighted that things have really gone too far with the top 15 chart places in the Record Store Chart all taken up by new releases and with the previous week’s number one the self-titled Neck Deep album disappearing from the chart completely.

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It will be interesting to see how this week’s number one from Reytons fares the following week.

There was a time when newly released albums sold for many months and even years, while now with only very few exceptions albums can come and go within the month.

For shops that focus so heavily on new releases the whole process is a bit of a treadmill, but at least there is the guarantee of there being new releases every week.

Some shops make a better job of this than others with those that claim to have a new favourite band every week doing so without any sense of embarrassment.

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The current situation doesn’t really benefit anybody, with new releases gone in the blink of an eye, except possibly that the artists feel vindicated by their high chart placing, not realising that their fans on the whole really don’t care.

It is possible to generate a little social media interest around whether an album reaches number one especially in the main chart but it is all soon forgotten.

At the same time the sales figures are nothing like they were even a decade ago.

The saddest thing in all this is that no attempt is being made by labels, record companies or indeed shops to create new fans for established artists and all that is happening is that sales are being moved around so one shop’s gain is another’s loss.

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The other sad thing is that shops now receive very little support in any way other than being considered one of the marketing tools to be used for a new release.

You can find the Official Record Store Chart at www.officialcharts.com/charts/record-store-chart/

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