Flying Vinyl festival, Hackney: ‘Streaming services like Spotify have left music industry at ground zero’

Swim Deep are performing at the festival

Swim Deep are performing at the festival - Credit: Archant

The music industry is in crisis. Online music platforms like Spotify have artists in a chokehold, only paying fractions of pennies every time a song is streamed.

The debate over fair royalties for artists has prompted superstars such as Adele, Taylor Swift, Kanye West and Beyonce to refuse some streaming services access to their music.

But another, quieter backlash is also afoot, in the form of steadily rising numbers of vinyl sales.

And Craig Evans, the founder of a new Hackney festival dedicated to celebrating wax records, says it might just be the answer to the question of how to make music pay again.

“You can pay 70p for a song or a few quid and have access to all the music in the world but it doesn’t compensate people for their intellectual property,” he says.

“We really feel that digital has taken over the music industry and left it at ground zero. But vinyl puts money in artist’s pockets, it’s not something that’s disposable and throwaway.”

Last year, Evans founded Hertford-based vinyl subscription service, Flying Vinyl, which sends subscribers a monthly box of exclusive seven-inch vinyl records by emerging artists.

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Despite the ubiquity of music streaming, the service was an instant hit – so much so that Flying Vinyl is now putting on a one-day music festival at Hackney Shapes in Hackney Wick on Saturday April 9 to further promote vinyl.

The line-up includes up-and-coming names from the indie rock world, including Black Honey and Swim Deep – the common thread being that all the artists have had their records pressed onto wax by Flying Vinyl.

A pop-up shop will also sell vinyl records and merchandise.

“Everyone in our company is someone who goes to a lot of music events and we tend to find that a lot of them are exactly the same,” Evans explains. “You can’t actually find many places for £20 and see the calibre of artists we have on stage.”

The last decade has seen a huge resurgence in vinyl.

There were more than two million vinyl sales in the UK last year, up from 1.4million in 2014, and last week, the Recording Industry Association of America reported that the music industry made more money from last year’s 17million vinyl sales than from the billions of songs streamed online over the same period.

Evans predicts no end in sight yet to what has been dubbed the “vinyl revival”.

“It’s going to keep growing year by year,” he says. “We are still talking about 1 per cent of music sales on vinyl, it’s not ever going to be 30, 40 or 50 per cent of music sales, it’s not going to be that predominant.

“But with vinyl, people buying it really, really care about music and understand it on a deeper level, and that passion means we are going to see up to five or 10 per cent of sales in the next few years.”

But in a convenience-obssessed age, why are we flocking in such numbers to buy these bulky black records?

Evans says it’s simple. “Once you’ve had the experience, digital music will never feel good enough,” he adds. “The inconvenience of the format makes you appreciate what you are listening to. When you listen to a seven-inch vinyl, you don’t do anything else.

“You don’t sit there texting, checking Facebook, doing anything else in the background or running between meetings,” he adds.

“The more we can do to get vinyl out there, the better for the music industry.”

Imogen Blake

Flying Vinyl festival tickets for April 9 are £20.

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