Selling music these days is incredibly hard. It’s easy to see why, too: there are very few tracks you can’t search out online and throw on within a few seconds. There are currently eight albums in the world that lay claim to more than 40 million sales worldwide, and only one of them dates from within my lifetime (Whitney Houston’s soundtrack to The Bodyguard, oddly enough). In blunt terms, selling a record as ‘art’ these days seems a bad business proposition on the face of it.
Of course, vinyl has been a different story over the last few years. Personally, I struggle with 7″s. Perhaps it’s a love of the complete, rounded album, or perhaps I’m just too lazy to flip them over, but I’ve never been particularly drawn to them. Certainly not in the way I gather LPs, anyway. Yet there’s something about Flying Vinyl that instantly grabbed my attention. Perhaps it’s the curation, or the weird delivery system, or the idea of selling albums without telling anyone what you’re selling, and still succeeding.
They seemed like good people to talk about the vinyl revolution with, anyhow, so I did. This little Q&A is with Craig Evans, who runs the place. You can see their two months worth of assorted and impressively beautiful output to date scattered around this post, too.
Let’s start with the background. How did Flying Vinyl come about, and how did you get from concept to a functioning business?
I was just thinking about how we could better connect listeners with new music and I was having this thought whilst holding a copy of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac on vinyl. It felt like if every piece of new music was introduced to people on wax it would be a much more intimate and personal experience and would enhance that connection, so the idea came from that really. We got it from concept to a functioning business with sheer determination. It was one of those companies where we started with the end result and then worked backwards on how to deliver it, which meant a lot of problem solving early on.
What are your backgrounds – are you music industry types?
My background’s in digital marketing in the music industry, my business partner has a range of different businesses but also manages a great band, which is how we ended up meeting.
Whilst vinyl is clearly pretty fashionable at the moment, getting people to pay for music is pretty challenging. You have people paying for music without knowing what it’s going to be in advance. In some senses, that seems an odd formula from the outside. Why do you think it works?
I think it’s a misconception that people won’t pay for music. You only have to look at the amount of people willing to spend £200 going to a festival each summer to see that people are still willing to part with cash to connect with music. The problem really is that music’s become very disposable because of the push towards digital downloading. Now we can listen to everything, anywhere without paying much for it, it feels like the shift in how people spend on music is moving towards experience. Our boxes are a really unique experience both because of the format, the exclusivity of the music and the fact it’s all about discovering amazing new artists, it’s hard to put a price-tag on what that means to people.