Quantcast
"Expect the indie store community to make even bigger and bolder moves in the coming year to remain not only relevant to their customers and the bands that want to reach their customers, but to make sure the sick side of the business does not hold us back."
——Don VanCleave, Coalition of Independent Music Stores
INDIE RETAIL HAVING A BOFFO HOLIDAY
CIMS Ruler VanCleave Points to Artist Exclusives, Product Diversity, Online Marketing as Key
Just in case you were sitting at home ruminating about the end of the record business.

Indie record retail ruler and Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) guru Don VanCleave leaves us with an optimistic note in  his last missive and chart of the year, answering Steve Knopper's article, "CD Sales Collapse" in the current Rollling Stone. Thought it might cheer up your holiday season:

"I talked to Steve for this article, but my news was not reported. Our stores are killing it this Christmas. When I reported that a few weeks ago, one major distribution President asked me how that is happening when Soundscan is telling him that the indie sector is way down.

Well, first of all, we have been ultra aggressive this year about finding things that bands own themselves and sell on the road. We bring in big quantity on those titles and do enough marketing so that the customer thinks it is a giant new release. For us, it IS a giant new release. And, we don't bother getting these titles Soundscanned because who cares? We are not playing radio games or getting people paid by the scans so why bother. Some recent pieces we bought directly from bands that are selling like hotcakes are Daniel Lanois' release Rockets and the Radiohead DVD The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time. We are also recording and releasing instore performances with great success. Our most recent, Rilo Kiley Live at Fingerprints, is doing amazing business. Stores feature titles like these (non-distributed and out of the mainstream) in all of their email marketing and in the stores. Our thinking is that it sure helps to have something cool and generally unavailable to compete with $7.99 U2 CDs at the Beast.

Secondly, Mike Dreese at Newbury Comics caused wide panic in the indie store community over five years ago by telling us we would be out of business by now if we didn't diversify our offerings. Most good indie stores took that advice to heart. Many of our members spend as much time at lifestyle trade shows buying cool things that music fans want as they do at SXSW or NARM. Many indies also share success trends with each other on a regular basis. The biggest diversification item is obviously the DVD, musical and theatrical. Many of our owners are aggressively buying DVDs that are not in the mainstream in addition to the big releases that are everywhere.

Another reason that indie might be doing so good is the incredible advantage that email blasts offer to our marketing options. You should go right now to www.cimsmusic.com. Down the left column, you will see all of our stores listed. If you have the time, click on Park Avenue, Twist and Shout, Waterloo, Record Exchange, Vintage Vinyl and earX-tacy. Sign up for these stores newsletters. Most of our accounts have email blasts, but these guys in particular are taking customer interaction to a whole new level.

Then again, our guys could be doing so well this year because many chain stores have just closed leaving fewer players in the marketplace. The remaining stores are pathetically understocked and as boring as ever. Whatever the answer is, indie retail is working very hard through coalitions to come up with smarter survival tactics. The amount of direct communications between indie stores and the various coalitions are at an all time high. Expect the indie store community to make even bigger and bolder moves in the coming year to remain not only relevant to their customers and the bands that want to reach their customers,  but to make sure the sick side of the business does not hold us back.

I sincerely hope that everyone has a very safe and restful holiday season. We will catch you in the 05!

HITS LIST IS
IN THE MAIL
A not-so-subtle reminder to fill out that ballot. (10/15a)
NEAR TRUTHS: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
The lives behind live music. (10/14a)
HARVEY MASON JR.:
THE HITS INTERVIEW
The Grammy chief takes our call. (10/14a)
RAINMAKERS 2020: COMING SOON
It will rain again this fall--we guarantee it. (10/13a)
STEVIE WONDER PARTNERS WITH REPUBLIC
First music in 15 years. (10/14a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)