Vinyl and the Hoarders
Music consumption is on the turn, as Compact Discs give way to music downloads and streaming services but there is one growing blip in the decline of physical music media - the vinyl LP is enjoying a comeback, experiencing an extraordinary 50 per cent growth in 2015, on top of similar hikes in previous years.
Two crackerjack presenters at Radio Northern Beaches, Jez Ford and his irascible sidekick Stew - no surname, just like Madonna (but without the conical bras…. possibly) - have been riding this black wave of vinyl resurgence as they approach their fourth year presenting the 'Hoarders' Vinyl Emporium' radio show, which is on for two hours every Friday night.
"It's been an extraordinary few years for the vinyl LP,”says Mr Ford, who lives in Dee Why and asks to be called Jez.
"Everybody thought CDs meant the end for vinyl, but hi-fi fans kept it alive, and now half of new vinyl is bought by under-25s.
"It's a new generation discovering the joys of dropping that needle into the groove and sitting back with a big album cover and rich analogue sounds."
Not only are sales increasing, the rate of increase is also increasing. The UK Financial Times recently predicted that "soon, maybe even this year, vinyl records will outsell compact discs, bringing that 35 year experiment in optical media to an ignominious close."
With the latest RIAA figures showing that LPs and EPs make more money than YouTube, Vevo and Spotify combined, record companies are reacting, with the Universal Music Sydney team recently launching online store 'thesoundofvinyl.com.au' and UK supermarket giant Sainsbury's has just started selling records in store for the first time since the 1980s.
But on the Northern Beaches you don't need to go mail order or to the UK to get your vinyl fix.
"Sandy's Music in Dee Why is a proper record store," says Jez. "Always ready for a chat, it should be treasured.”
Stew's also delighted that Pacific Records has just reopened in Mona Vale, adding, “Pacific Records does record fairs on the Beaches every few months, and many of the markets also have boxes of second hand vinyl.
"Ironically though, it’s second hand CDs that are the bargain at the moment, just a buck each at Vinnies. Compare that with $2.19 for one song on iTunes, and it's not even CD-quality."
Meanwhile, the Hoarders bring out their treasured vinyl for the radio show each Friday for two hours from 8pm, broadcasting to the Northern Beaches on 88.7 and 90.3FM and also on the internet.
"Many listeners call in for a chat or to request songs and messages," says Jez. "We've also got regulars listening down the internet tubes from the UK Argentina, Borneo, Saskatoon, everywhere.
"Each time a new listener contacts us, we put a chalk mark on the wall and they become part of our little community. But only our wonderful Northern Beaches listeners can enjoy the show on good old-fashioned analogue FM. And that's worth saving too, there's no digital spectrum yet for community radio, so long live our analogue airwaves!"
Both keen musicians, Jez and Stew also perform as B'Jezus, and last year raised money for Tour De Cure and a number of other charities. As well as tinkling the Ivories and singing, they DJ and have appeared on Triple J.