Billboard has answered the question many music industry analysts asked last week: Is Urban Outfitters really the world’s leading vinyl retailer? According to label execs, distributors and wholesalers — nearly 80-percent of the U.S. market, according to the trade magazine — the answer is a resounding no, with Amazon inching past the lifestyle retailer’s stateside sales by a little more than four percentage points. Meanwhile the smaller footprint of Urban Outfitters outside the U.S. — 50 stores as compared to nearly 300 — has all-but-ensured Amazon’s greater reach internationally.
“The chains are realizing that they don’t want to miss out on a product category that is growing 30 to 40 percent a year,” explained a wholesale executive. “Even non-traditional retailers that didn’t want to touch any music up until now are saying this is something we should investigate.”
That said, Billboard insists that indie retailers have an upper hand on chains like Urban Outfitters due to the sheer volume and variety of music they stock. “Independent retailers are still the backbone of vinyl’s growth, and they are still selling tons of it,” a major label distribution executive said. “Indies are driving the format’s growth and everyone else is picking up on what they do.”
“The vinyl numbers are extraordinary,” added another distribution executive. “Up until about a year ago, I though it was a cool contemporary fad — but now it is an established business and continuing to grow. Vinyl is part of the sales and marketing mix of almost everybody I am in business with.”