Yes, It’s OK to Buy Vinyl at Urban Outfitters
Read the counterpoint to this column, 'No, It's Not OK to Buy Vinyl at Urban Outfitters' -- written by Judy Mills of Kansas City's Mills Record Company -- here.
Update: Urban Outfitters claim that they are the world's biggest seller of vinyl is being refuted. Get the whole story here.
This week, Urban Outfitters' chief administrative officer, Calvin Hollinger, announced that the store is "the world’s number one vinyl seller" (via Buzzfeed). While some may be shocked by this statement, it really shouldn't come as a surprise; the clothing retailer has been stocking their stores with records for awhile now, and in New York City, the esteemed indie giant Amoeba Records recently opened an annex in the Herald Square location -- marking Amoeba's first-ever spot outside of California.
It also shouldn't be surprising that Urban Outfitters outperforms traditional record stores; outside of the aforementioned Amoeba, New England's beautiful Bull Moose and a handful of others, there aren't many "chains" out there that sell vinyl. Yeah, you might be able to pick up a Justin Timberlake album pressed on wax at Target, but it's a whole different ballgame at Urban Outfitters.
We imagine the negative reaction to this announcement will only grow, but here are a few tweets that stand out to me -- and make me shake my head:
The reality is that vinyl isn't some hidden gem that only the really, really cool kids know about. It's not exclusive to the indie shop down the street. It's burgeoning -- oh, and it's been around for decades.
It's a means to an end, that end being an intimate experience with your favorite music.
Yes, I think it's the absolute best means to that end. And yes, I love nothing more than flipping through records at Rough Trade in Brooklyn or Generation Records in the Village or Mills Record Company in Kansas City or Good Records in Dallas or the Record Connection in Augusta.
But, I also enjoy walking to Urban Outfitters to see what records they have -- I recently picked up Lucero's triple-LP live release, 'Lucero: Live From Atlanta.' Believe it or not, I had a hard time finding this elsewhere, and Urban Outfitters had three copies in-stock. And if you're a fan of unique pressings, the retailer is an amazing outlet for that; recently, they teamed up with Interpol for an exclusive release of 'El Pintor,' they had a clear pressing of Spoon's 'They Want My Soul' and they released a red-black marbled vinyl of Banks' debut, 'Goddess.'
Earlier this year, Third Man Records -- who, outside of the fine folks at Record Store Day, should be credited for the reason vinyl has exploded in the last five-to-eight years -- partnered with Urban Outfitters. The Nashville-based record store and label took its "portable" shop, dubbed the Rolling Record Store, across the country and parked in front of stores from Baton Rouge to Memphis.
(I can spend all day talking about the ritualistic nature of listening to vinyl and why it's my favorite way to consume music, and how important it is, and how big Jack White's 'Lazaretto' is, but you can get all of that in our Vinyl section. There's no reason to belabor that here.)
So then, what's the point?
It's OK if Urban Outfitters sells vinyl, because it's good for music, and it's good for the format we all love. Where's the outcry to keep Amazon from selling LPs? Where's the shaming of eBay? What about those indie shops that -- gasp! -- offer their inventory online?
Music is about you and your relationship with your favorite bands, with your favorite records. You share it with your friends, you feel smarter because you listen to music nobody else does. Whether you obtain that music at a chain or in an alley, what's important is the fact that you are getting your hands on it and spinning it.
So everyone, let's just take a breath. Let's support music and let's support records. It's OK to buy vinyl at Urban Outfitters.
Agree? Disagree? Hate vinyl? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.