News January 29, 2020

Executive changes at AMRA & Record Store Day

Executive changes at AMRA & Record Store Day

Changes are afoot at the top of the Australian Music Retailers Association (AMRA) and one of its main initiatives, Australian .

AMRA CEO Ian Harvey and head of membership Sara Hood, are stepping down to follow other pursuits.

They have run AMRA for 20 years and Record Store Day for 11.

“The general plan is to keep it running as it has,” says AMRA president Blake Budak, who operates the long-running store Landspeed Records in Canberra.

“Sara and Ian have put a lot of mechanisms in place and done a lot of groundwork to establish Record Store Day in Australia in such a good way.

“AMRA wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

Sara Hood & Ian Harvey

It’s little wonder that Record Store Day plays a vital role in AMRA’s operations.

“We do as much trade on that one day as we do in the four days leading up to Christmas,” Budak explains.

The event returns this year in April. Last year 195 stores were involved, drawing around 85,000 customers.

Other retail sectors might applaud Black Friday’s discounts for bringing in foot traffic but not for music sellers.

“Record Store Day is not about selling product cheaply but having exclusives and special products. The margins are not huge.

“If you heavily discount, you’ll have a quick injection of cash but it’s not profitable.”

Record Store Day’s emphasis on vinyl – not to mention the social camaraderie, retail experience and the joy of music discovery you get in-store but won’t find online – has created a market that allows stores to thrive, if not survive.

Figures from the Australian Recording Industry Association, published in 2019 and covering the 2018 calendar year, showed that the Australian vinyl market grew 15.19% to a value of $20.8 million with sales up a further 9.36% to push close to 861,000 units.

ARIA predicts vinyl will overtake CD this year, forecast to take a 6.6% share of the market as CDs share drops to 5.4%.

With such strong sales, many independent stores have shifted to 100% or 50% vinyl stock.

As a result, Budak points out, “The situation in Australia is reasonably healthy.”

Christmas trading “was pretty good” but with a slight dip (”nothing dramatic”) attributed to customers in some cities on the East Coast staying indoors because of high temperatures and poor air quality from bush fires.

A Shift In Duties

A shift in AMRA duties, Budak would like to see is an expansion in building a community of independent music stores around Australia.

“To give my own perspective, we (Landspeed) just celebrated our 25th anniversary,” he recounts.

“For the first 20 years, I pretty much operated in isolation. I didn’t really know anyone in other sores in Canberra or have much to do with them.

“But after I joined the AMRA board and was active in it, I got to meet retailers from around the country.

“I’ve become good friends with them, and we got a lot us sharing our views and suggestions.

“So moving forward, one thing is for AMRA to grow the community and grow the stores.

“Indie stores are not competing with each other, we’re competing with online and internationals. The more the indies can get together, the better we’ll all be.”

The association has called for expressions of interest to fill the vacancies.

The AMRA role includes liaison with ARIA, the music retail industry’s self-managed code labelling scheme, government liaison, accounting and member management.

The Record Store Day gig is basically for a multi-skilled person or small team who can project manage the whole day.

That includes working with the AMRA board to appointing ambassadors to liaise with the publicist to running competitions on Facebook to securing sponsors and ensuring they are happy to posting content on the website and social media.

A full position description is available from Sara Hood on 03 9507 2547 or sara.hood@amra.org.au

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