Word of Mouth & the Bandcamp Diet
Updated: Mar 16, 2019
Morning, its 7.09 am & I'm starting day with Cathedral - the Carnival Bizarre.
Working full time & an average working week consists of 50 hours means Saturday is only day I get to really listen to records. the problem with this is I spend most of my spare time playing catch up. trying to actually get around to playing records I've purchased.
How records are sourced now is a lot different than the traditional way of walking in to your local Record Store & ordering it. Although I still do this a lot. When I mentioned to my oldest friend Eamonn McLoughlin that I had a really good relationship with my local Independent Record Store (David's Music, Letchworth) He laughed & said "Brother you have had really good relationships with every record store you set foot in!"
That is what it comes down to. Relationships.
One of the nicest purchases I have in my collection is a box set, Black Sabbath - the Vinyl Collection. it consists of nine albums with Ozzy line up of Sabbath on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl, remastered, Debut single with non-album B-side of Wicked World. & finally Hardback Book collecting tour programme's (1971/1975/1976/1978)...its a thing of real beauty & a benchmark for box sets. How did I get my hands on it?
Relationships end of story
I seen it advertised in a music magazine & mentioned it to staff at David's Music. They hadn't heard of it. As it happens the rep from their supplier told them he had copy but only one & he wouldn't be able to get another one. It was only going to be available for a short while then deleted!!! They remembered my query & grabbed it. They e-mailed me & asked me if I wanted it. It was £180. I put £20 deposit on it & just paid a little bit of as I went along. Now you only get that type of service when you are valued, you won't get it from a main High Street chain store (you know who I'm talking about!!!) where some one is shouting NEXT! at you. Your also not going to hear something you have never heard before.
In your local indie store it's about relationships & also just as important the flow of information. The staff at David's Music (or any indie store in fact) are first & foremost music fans & collectors too. I still discover new music by what they are playing . Wolf People being an example, & my as always late to the party (it's important to make a sweeping entrance.....Hello! I'm Here!...ahem) discovery of Psych scene. I'm sure they have discovered bands because of my orders too.
When you first start buying albums it takes guts to approach counter in record store you have never been in & ask "what's that your playing?" You know they know more than you, they know they know more than you,
When I was 17 there was a record store called "DTK " in the Abbey Mall. I may have name wrong but it was owned by the legend Derek Larkin. I remember a group of older (& therefore much cooler) Rockers standing at counter & Derek putting on The MC5 - Kick out the Jams. the rockers laughed at first tracks falsetto vocals but I from a very safe distance felt my ears prick up, particularly when second track "Kick out the Jams" started . I watched them out of corner of my eye. when it was obvious they were not leaving despite the fact I was willing them to with my considerable psychic powers. I wanted this album....no I needed it I pulled up my britches, I stride to the counter, I took a sharp right & exited the shop.
I came back the next week having no way to find out more about the MC5. I had no choice but to ask at counter. I approached it like man walking to Gallows, When I asked for the Kick out the Jams album.
This is how the relationship starts, as easy as that. I was deemed by staff of DTK (in my mind at least) as serious about music & sufficiently cool enough & they started recommending bands to me. I got to know other customers . It just took word of mouth & a album could suddenly become essential.
You would purchase your album (or in my case albums, why have one when you can have more) in DTK then go have cup of tea & sandwich in "The Poor Mouth Cafe" I just sat there with tea. Buying a sandwich meant less money for records. You would then show & tell. What did you get? I remember one day eight of us being there & everyone of us had bought "Appetite for Destruction" this was strength on word of mouth alone. (It's hard to believe Guns 'n' Roses were a street band but they were)
Maybe the video for welcome to the jungle had been seen but that's it. No youtube, No Streaming. Just buzz created by people talking to each other.
Fast forward 32 years (time flies when you spend your time cataloging records....more about that later!) Technology has moved on. Most people just access music by streaming services, Cherry picking, & creating track lists. This is fine but it's not for me. I like to approach an album as one piece of work & with the up surge in Vinyl popularity the art of listening is slowly being rediscovered. More surprisingly
Social Media has actually become useful.....
No wait!!!! come back.....Really!!!
instead of spending time posting youtube clips of funny dogs or stupid people, ever so subtly, & quite organically Word of Mouth is almost a powerful tool as it once was. Groups have appeared on facebook, like Stoner/Doom/Sludge Vinyl Collectors , Psychedelic,Stoner Record Collectors or on the Record - Vinyl collecting, discussion and trading group up dating show & tell in "The Poor Mouth Cafe" by posting photos of latest purchases, particularly if its a limited run on colored vinyl
This is where it becomes a useful tool, It makes me at least aware of bands I would have never discovered. Monolord as one example had major buzz created around them by just people posting pictures of their first album & just talking to each other. It definitely led my Wife & I to the Black Heart in Camden to see them on their Debut gig in U.K. with Salem's Pot (another social media discovery) It was one of best gigs we had attended in a long time & it happened because people spoke to each other.
The other wonderful development is record buyers are also posting & telling each other where you can find these Limited Colour Vinyl from. Introducing me to small record labels based in all corners of the world, in some cases one or two man operations (Hello STB Records,Ripple Music and Hello Pink Tank).
Also it has changed the way I shop. I always have & will support my Local Independent Record Store but it has widened out my options.
Ultimately it has led me to the most additive site known to civilization.....Bandcamp.
Bandcamp is where you go to find Albums released by band independently or by small boutique labels. I like that most of the money goes to Artists & It is a well of amazing music I would never find.
its equally a blessing & a curse. It allows you to play album on site before you do digital version of Record flicking & make split second decision & internal dialogue that goes something like this
"oooh this is great...hold on there is only 9 copies left. I Better order it. Maybe I should think about this.....I need to buy food. .....Ah I eat too much anyway. Get the Album"
Which brings me back to where I started. I have a pile of Albums I haven't played yet.
On the plus side there's a pile of Albums I haven't played yet........I love Saturdays