In 86 years of existence Vinyl Record became both art and a statement. A loss-less format of the Long Playing Record (LP) captures music as the artist made it. “The 300 crown poster from Van Gogh is not art, the original painting is. Vinyl is a true art.” Magdaléna Zemanová – owner of the Happyfeet record shop in Pasáž Lucerna – saw the Vinyl Boom from the beginning.
“I was 19, I had 13,000 crowns in my pocket and off I was to Prague to make a living from LPs.” She has been selling Records for 12 years and experienced many ups and downs. “I began my business in 2007, right in the middle of the Great Recession.” The start was slow and Happyfeet moved from Štěpánská Pasáž to Roxy Club, there it got closed after a year and a half. “I was pretty burned out. Regardless of how hard you try, you will get kicked, that’s a part of it.”
Happyfeet settled in Pasáž Lucerna 6 years ago.
“This space used to be toilets.” Zemanová waves towards the rack with Rock records. “Whole place reeked of old plumage, but, we built something from it.”
From here, Zemanová watched as the year 2016 marked a new age for Vinyl.
Over 3.2 million Vinyl records were sold, that’s the most in 25 years. “The world is getting too quick, products are made for quantity and not quality. So people are starting to turn back to things that can slow it down.”
The 2000s’ obsession with CD burners and free music gives under the need to own something of a value. Same year Vinyl skyrocketed, CDs declined by 11.7% — a one-tenth drop against previous years.
“If we take a look at David Koller, a Czech musician, his CD [ČeskosLOVEnsko] now costs 299 crowns — half the price of LP. But, it might not play after 5 years. The 515 crown Vinyl is going to last next 40-50 years. Plus it can rise twice its former price. CD can’t be sold higher than its purchase price. Purely from the economic standpoint by buying Vinyl records you invest. People are starting to appreciate original medium.”
Michal Máka, the Marketing and PR executive of Supraphon agrees.
“On a local scale it’s still a zero profit market. But, it will get there. Customers want it and artists want it as well. It became a set trend.”
Registered in 1932, Supraphon got on board just as the RCA launched first Long Playing album in history. Over the years the company became a synonym for Czech LP industry and watched the medium change. Vinyl records can’t compete with Spotify or Youtube in distribution, they complement it.
“LP became an accessory to the digital output — part of the merchandise. Not every Vinyl is bought to be played. People get the digital album for use and then an LP as an artifact. Most wanted are the re-editions of cult records. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pearl Jam – those bands are not bound by generation and most target groups want them as a collectible.”
Classic Rock comprised 63% of last year’s Vinyl Boom, in-keeping with LP’s Underground roots.
“The alternative market, opposing the mainstream music platforms, started it and from there public rediscovered LP’s magic.” Máka’s words ring true in Happyfeet. The veneer of Vinyl allures both students and old timers.
“It’s a grey zone as it has always been. That’s the beauty of it.”