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Record Stores in the Digital Age

Posted: October 1, 2012 by chrisbordignon in Music

Dixon’s Recycled is one of the longest running chains of second-hand record stores in the country, and according to their website, are renown as a great source of hard to find vinyl records at bargain prices. Dixon’s opened it’s first record store in Blackburn in 1976, and that store remains the largest store in the Dixon’s chain today.

So, how does a second-hand record store remain successful in an age where digital music downloading is king?

Employee Matthew Watson has been working at the Blackburn store for 13 years, and in the video below he expresses why he feels the business has remained successful in the modern era.

Dixon’s also prides itself on it’s sheer bulk and range of records. Watson is quick to point to this as one of the stores greater strengths. “We cover such a wide selection of stock, and styles, and formats, ect – and also that we deal in bulk, such a massive amount of stock all the time, so people know there’s always going to be great stuff in the racks, and they can find bargains”.

However, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Dixon’s. Over the last two years, two branches of Dixons have closed down – the Prahran store and the Dandenong store.

Perhaps this is a sign of waning interest in records. However, Watson doesn’t believe that this is an indication of the industry weakening. He prefers to see it as an opportunity to strengthen the larger, busier, and more successful outlets.

“It’s a case of focusing on the stronger points, the stronger locations. Pooling resources into those, and making a really strong business so we can survive”.

The Dixons website  also notes that a large factor in the company’s ongoing success is it’s loyal customers and frequent return patronage. One such customer is Drumtek employee James Rindfleish, who has been a return customer to Dixons for over 2 years.

“They’re conveniently located, and the fact that they’re second hand means their prices are quite reasonable. I’ll keep returning as long as that remains the case,” He says.

Interestingly, while most second-hand records are sold to collectors, Rindfleish uses them for a completely different purpose: Sampling. Sampling is a music-making process involving taking beats or rhythms from existing songs, and manipulating them into something different and unique. Rindfleish explains this process, and his love of vinyl, in the video below.

However, Rindfleish doesn’t believe the record market will ever expand beyond the small niche audience it has at the moment.

“It’s not practical to have vinyl in this day and age when you want to take your music with you,” He notes. “I would say there’l always be a market for it, but it’s never going to ‘come back’ as a main outlet for music.”

Watson believes that Dixon’s does have the potential to survive into the future. He cites the franchise’s unwavering focus on its musical niche as a sign that perhaps a business like Dixon’s may be resilient in economic downturn. As Dixon’s provides “things that you can’t get elsewhere” at affordable prices, there’s no real competition that will cannibalize that market.

The continued success of second-hand record stores remains an intriguing anomaly in the music industry, but with hobbyists, collectors, and samplers all showing loyalty to the medium, Vinyl will seemingly remain a legitimate musical platform into the foreseeable future.

A slideshow of Dixon’s in Blackburn.

By Chris Bordignon