Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Vinyl collectors eye Jamaica

Published:Sunday | May 24, 2015 | 5:00 AMCurtis Campbell
Herbie Miller, director/curator Jamaica Music Museum.
Alton Ellis
Bob Marley
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Willing to pay big bucks for rare commodity

Since the rise of digital streaming, the sales of vinyl, and music, to a large extent, has declined tremendously, with music consumers opting to utilise cheap and free methods of building their musical catalogue.

Storage and playback mediums such as YouTube.com and CDs have for several years overtaken the vinyl format and have posed a threat to creative artistes.

Several locally based record stores that solely relied on vinyl sales for productivity have closed their doors over the years, citing that sound systems and other consumers of reggae and dancehall music have moved on with the digital wave.

However, according to recent research conducted by the BBC, global sales of vinyl recordings have increased by more than 50 per cent since 2014, especially music recorded during the 1970s and ?80s.

BBC?s research took them to places like The Netherlands and Jamaica, where interviews were conducted with record stores and vinyl-pressing plants. Surprisingly, both international and local industry players confirmed that the same vinyl records that were considered old news were now becoming a hot commodity once again.

Among the places visited in Jamaica was the Alpha Boys Home. However, correspondent at the institution, Sister Suzan, made it clear that despite the large sums of money being offered for the vinyl, the institution would not be selling its collection anytime soon.

BBC also highlighted that Jamaica?s musical power has waned since the passing of Bob Marley and Desmond Decker. However, it also shortlisted the island as one of the places that is under the watchful eye of collectors willing to pay vast sums of money for rare recordings from the music industry?s heyday.

In an attempt to catch up with the resurgence of vinyl, locally-based company Tuff Gong International recently hosted a Record Store Day to raise awareness as well as market the now-rare method of music playback.

making a comeback

Debby Bissoon, brand manager at the Bob Marley Group of Companies, confirmed on behalf of Tuff Gong International that vinyl is making a comeback. However, she did highlight that Jamaica would have benefited more if the local vinyl pressing plants had not closed their doors after the digital revolution.

?It is a known fact (that) the Japanese are always coming here to get the vinyl. The only problem is that there aren?t a lot of Jamaican factories that are still pressing vinyl ? if any at all. Tuff Gong has a factory, however, the parts to maintain it are very expensive, so we have to take a deeper look into the market before we fully indulge because it is very expensive to run a factory,? she said.

The BBC also listed Bob Marley as one of the artistes whose music is often sought by collectors of vinyl. However, Alton Ellis? Mouth A Massi single currently sits atop the collector?s list and is valued at up to £6,000, according to the BBC.

Monique Reindeers, sales manager at Netherlands-based pressing factory Record Industry, told the BBC that up to 30,000 records are pressed per day, and the demand gets higher each year.

?Last year, we pressed 5.4 million records, and this year, it will grow even further ... the demand is from Europe and the whole world, actually. We even get requests from Asia and Australia ... we can?t keep up with the global demands,? she told BBC.

Herbie Miller, curator for the Jamaica Music Museum, said he has a collection of his own which he does not intend to sell, unless he is faced with severe hard times. Miller also said the vinyl industry never died, however, persons who have focused their attention on the digitally driven United States market are being misguided.

natural mystic of vinyl

?I have never stopped purchasing vinyl though I have purchased thousands of CDs. There is a certain relationship with vinyl and books ... the smell, the physical touch ... just the whole natural mystic. Some records will never reach CDs, so you have to buy it on vinyl. Imagine you brush your stylus and you press play on the turntable then you sit on your chair and listen to the music. It?s like a ritual. That?s the type of feeling you get from the vinyl,? he explained.

?CDs are like getting a quickie from a girl. But vinyl is about going through the real process and getting her to say yes,? he said.

He also encouraged the children of icons like Clement ?Sir Coxon? Dodd and other musicians who own the rights to music to wake up and revive the local vinyl industry. This, he said, noting that not just anybody can capitalise on the opportunity at hand without owing the rights to execute the pressing process.

?You are sitting on a pot of gold, and many lack the intelligence to capitalise on what they have ... many of the off-spring of these legends are sleeping on gold,? Miller told The Sunday Gleaner.

entertainment@gleanerjm.com