- We speak to independent record store owners about how the reissue boom is impacting business.
In 2015 the sale of reissues on vinyl and CD outstripped new albums in the US for the first time.
The Nielsen statistics, as reported by Music Business Worldwide, show that 71.2 million physical "catalogue albums"—i.e. any album that's more than 18 months old—were sold in comparison to 65.8 million new albums. Reissues also beat new releases in overall sales—digital and physical combined. The vast majority of these sales are pop, jazz and rock LPs issued by major labels.
Record store owners contacted by RA say that major label-driven reissues are having a negative affects on small, independent labels and record shops specialising in electronic music, causing delays at pressing plants for smaller labels.
Zane Landreth, co-founder of Los Angeles record store Mount Analog, told RA: "Mathematically, [the statistics] make sense, when you look at average buyers who are just getting into vinyl. I think the major drawback of all of that is it's incredibly unnecessary because those records are really easy to find. I can find that record for a dollar and the drawback is that it eats up pressing plant time and makes it harder for everybody else to get their records released. On the other hand, Light In The Attic just reissued the This Heat albums, which is great, because I don't want to pay $125.00 for each of those records. There's a lot of good music out there that doesn't get a fair shake first time around."
In Europe, Markus Lindner, who co-owns Berlin's OYE Records, said: "We work mostly with independent labels and they have now a huge problem pressing their 300-500 runs because majors overbook all the pressing plants with their reissues, and they pay better. In the end it's killing independent music, club music and labels."
Jason Spinks, owner of London's Kristina Records, told RA that new music outsold reissues in his shop in 2015. "New music is our main thing here and what we try and mostly push," he says. "I am not anti-reissue, just as long as it's done right and for the right reasons. The reissues we sell are the more obscure, undiscovered gems from around the world. But it has trickled into the classic house and techno world, and I'm not sure that's too healthy—a lot of unnecessary reissues can really oversaturate the market."
Additional reporting by Matt McDermott