AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — When it comes to consuming music, we all have preferences. It could be streaming or physical media that you listen to.
But according to U.S. 2022 Luminate Year-End Music Report, vinyl sales grew for the 17th consecutive year in the U.S.
Vinyl is that sleek black circle of music, and according to Luminate, which has been tracking music sales since 1991, vinyl sales comprised nearly 45% of all album purchases in the U.S. In 2022.
And 48% of those were sold at independent stores, like Bitter Buffalo Records located inside Caliche.
“I want people in Amarillo to have access to cool things. I want them to have access to music that they like, and they don’t have to go onto the internet and just buy everything, they can just come in here and get that personal touch,” said Lance Garza, Bitter Buffalo Records owner.
Ray Wilson, the owner of High Fidelity Record Store said you can find things at your local record store that you just can’t find at big chain stores.
“We get a lot of special releases and limited edition releases that we get to carry that the big guys don’t. But really, that’s just it, y’know, I feel like you could probably go to a big box store and find an associate and go ‘hey, y’know I’m really into this band and I really wish you would carry them’ and that’s not going to go very far, but as an independent record store that means everything to us, we want to carry exactly what our customers want and love,” said Wilson.
Garza said though local they still have to be aware of what the big box stores are doing.
“They actually have Target and Walmart exclusives that they will do, so that becomes a double edge sword because while there are a lot of people that are eager to support local shops like us, we still in a way have to compete or know what is going on with vinyl like with Walmart and Target getting titles too,” said Garza.
Luminate added Gen Z music listeners are 27% more likely to purchase vinyl records compared to the average music listener.
“I got customers of all ages, backgrounds, you name it, but the large bulk of the people that come in here and spend time and spend money, they are a lot younger … they know actually they want, they are coming in here specifically for bands that would blow your mind that a 15-year-old, let’s just say is looking for, y’know,” said Wilson.
Another thing that helps independently-owned record stores is Record Store Day, which according to Record Store Day, was conceived as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly independently-owned record stores in the US and stores internationally.
High Fidelity recently took part in Record Store Day Black Friday and Wilson said it was a great draw for the store.
“We just had our first Record Store Day, it was the Record Store Day Black Friday, and then in April, the big official Record Store Day is coming up and our Black Friday Record Store Day was crazy awesome, so we are really looking forward to the one in April because it is always larger, bigger, more impactful,” said Wilson.
According to Luminate, those who buy vinyl are 109% more likely to spend more money on music monthly.
Both Wilson and Garza said the most important thing to them besides the music, is building that personal connection with their customers.
“Working the shop is kind of the bright spot of my day is when people get to come in, we talk about music, they tell me what they like and they tell me what they are into and what they are looking for. Especially, when I can find those records or I happen to have them, it’s always fun,” said Garza.
“The cool thing about supporting independent record stores is that we work really hard to have a personal relationship with our customers. We get to know what turns them on musically, we get to learn their favorite bands, their favorite artists and we get to curate our inventory based on that,” said Wilson.
And, when it comes to the musical taste here on the High Plains, both Wilson and Garza add its a medley of sounds.
“My customers love good music. Everything you can think of. From grindcore to hip-hop, from bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s, I mean from Wayne Newton to Led Zeppelin and Kendrick Lamar,” said Wilson.
“Probably more modern independent rock. A lot of the new releases, I mean people like Mitski, I sell a lot of her records, Faye Webster, Wilco, specifically newer records for sure are what sells best for me. I mean you have a wide array of people come in, so it’s anything from obscure jazz to cocktail jazz to 80s metal, indy rock, hip-hop. It’s kind of all over the place,” said Garza.
Also, in 2022, for the second year in a row vinyl albums outsold CD albums in the U.S. But, while vinyl sales increase, according to Luminate, only half of those buying records actually own a vinyl record player.
And, if you are willing to make a little road trip, Shamrock has you covered for your vinyl fix as well with Spinning Jenny’s House of Music.