Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 14:59 UK

Record stores 'facing extinction'

Record player
Only about 30 independent record stores still exist in the UK

The owners of Scotland's few remaining independent record stores have warned they face extinction because of the boom in downloading music.

The shops are among 15 across the UK holding Record Store Day to urge music fans to back their local shop.

They include Avalanche records, which has branches in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and Aberdeen-based One Up.

Avalanche Glasgow owner Sandy McLean said sales of singles had dropped by about 90% in recent years.

The 15 shops formed the Coalition of UK Indie Stores last year after meeting at a conference in Liverpool to discuss the threat posed to their business by the internet.

Other members include London's Rough Trade outlet, which forms part of the record label which launched The Smiths.

There were more than 500 record stores dotted around the UK just 10 years ago, now I reckon there are barely more than 30
Sandy McLean

They have called on the major record labels to give them more support.

Mr McLean said: "We really are becoming an endangered species, that is how bad it is and it's come to the point where we can't just sit back and keep letting it happen.

"There were more than 500 record stores dotted around the UK just 10 years ago, now I reckon there are barely more than 30.

"The mom-and-pop owner-operated stores, as they are called in America, have nearly withered away and died."

Mr McLean said the independent stores in the US had struck deals with record labels which gave them exclusive sales on upcoming singles.

He added: "With all of us getting together we are hoping to be able to have enough muscle to do something similar.

"We would want to have the chance to get exclusive copies for the hardcore music fans before albums hit the shelves in all the supermarkets."

'Vinyl sales'

Mr McLean said internet downloading had virtually left sales of singles in his Queen Street shop non-existent.

He said: "Downloads have totally decimated sales in the single market. I would say I've noticed a 90% cut in sales over the last couple of years.

"Albums are a bit different because people will want all the tracks and the artwork that comes with owning a physical copy.

"We hope that it is all going to come full circle eventually with more and more people wanting the hard copies of their favourite artists and I am already starting to notice this because vinyl sales have shot up.

"I think British people in general really do like record shops but they just need reminded that these smaller and independent shops are here. If we were to disappear completely then people would realise what a loss it is."


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