Features March 15, 2019

Meet the new Melbourne-based startup ready to service Australia’s booming vinyl market

Meet the new Melbourne-based startup ready to service Australia’s booming vinyl market

Australia’s appetite for records is on the rise.

Figures from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) show that between January and June 2018, $9 million worth of vinyl albums were sold – a 22.9% rise from the same period in 2017.

The whole of 2017 saw $15 million worth of vinyl album sales, an all-time high at that time.

Vinyl collectors do have problems – too expensive, long waiting times, and hard to source rarities.

A new online store vinyl.com.au, which launches today, expects to sort out the problems.

It has 40,000 titles ready to sell, with 7,000 titles in its Melbourne warehouse for quick turn-around, with daily orders and shipments.

Explains digital marketing manager David Rose, “In this digital age of streaming and instant gratification, we’re attempting to bring the joy of vinyl to the masses by offering fast shipping and cheap prices on items that would usually take weeks to be delivered.”

The records are mostly sourced from Europe, the UK and the US. There is only a handful of vinyl pressing plants in Australia.

The dozen people who work at vinyl.com.au are, to be expected all vinyl freaks who instinctively know what their customers are specifically looking for.

They know where Henry Rollins was coming from when he once famously said that he had a better relationship with musicians through vinyl –   as he sat in his garage listening to Jimi Hendrix or John Coltrane, he could speak to them, smell them and actually hear their message.

“Absolutely!” says store manager Mark Mebalds, whose own obsession with vinyl saw him become a musician. “More so because the vinyl artwork is so big and detailed that you can read the lyrics and really get into the song.

“Vinyl people love that whole experience of taking the record out of the sleeve, feeling how heavy it is, and placing it on the turntable.

“With some, like Abbey Road or Dark Side of The Moon, one side gets played more than the other, and it has crackles and pops from constant use  — and people love hearing that!”

Like virtually all avid fans, Mebalds started getting into music via his elder siblings who played music non-stop in their bedrooms.

It was the time of great vinyl releases like Sgt. Peppers and Are You Experienced, which came accompanied by psychedelic album covers.

Mebalds recalls that as a three-year-old, he was more into Cream’s Disraeli Gears, another black long player wrapped in a visually exploding sleeve, instead of nursery rhymes.

Vinyl freaks tend to stream as much as they spin on the turntable, more to “taste before you buy” before they get a vinyl version which they can listen to more intensely with headphones.

With turntables become more accessible and increasingly becoming gifts, fans are building up their vinyl collections.

There is as much discovering early releases as getting multi-format versions of the same record.

Mebalds says that Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is a strong vinyl seller because they’re touring. Similarly, they’re expecting a Red Hot Chili Peppers spike after their tour this month.

Vinyl.com.au, as a result, has a section where staffers can recommend sound-alikes when they buy, and customers can review records.

Down the track, there is a plan to set up regular online chats where customers and staff can discuss what’s turning them on.

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