Sales of new and ‘new old’ vinyl records can be found at Chattanooga’s Yellow Racket Records

Sales of vinyl records continued to set a record in 2021, according to a report on axios.com, and when Ben Vanderhart decided to take part in the action more than a year ago, he wanted to focus on a market that was not served locally. – freshly pressed vinyl records. It has proven to be a smart move, despite the pandemic forcing him to stop some of the in-store promotional ideas he has.

“You can buy previously beloved records at McKay or in an antique mall, but even there it can be hard to find the really good ones because people tend to keep the ones they like,” he said. “The good ones like ‘What’s going on’, who will give it up?”

Vanderhart’s Yellow Racket Records on West Main Street in Chattanooga sell the Marvin Gaye album as well as works by The Beatles and other classical rock artists, but they are freshly squeezed and sealed. The store also sells newly recorded albums by artists such as Taylor Swift, Radiohead and local groups Call Me Spinster and Strung Like a Horse.

While sales of vinyl records have increased every year for the past 15 years, the numbers are nowhere near where they were in the 70s before the advent of digital formats and online services like Spotify and Apple Music. And not every new release is released on vinyl – and neither should it be, Vanderhart said.

But there is a demand for new vinyl from the right artists.

“You have to look at your fans and the demographics,” he said. “People come all the time and ask [K-pop superstars] BTS, but they do not put things out on vinyl. “

He said new works from country, independent and classical rock artists sell best.

Top 10 artists in 2021 based on sales at Yellow Racket Records

1. Radiohead 147

2. Taylor Swift 133

3. The Beatles 130

4. Sturgill Simpson 121

5. Sufjan Stevens 119

6. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard 114

7. Phoebe Bridgers 107

MF Doom 91

9. Grateful Dead 88

10. John Prine 86

“You have to ask yourself, is my demographic interested in vinyl?” said Vanderhart.

He said most of the major vinyl printing companies would only print orders of 500 or more, and that anything less would make the bid price for a record $ 50 or more.

Rock ‘n’ roll legend Mitch Ryder, best known for his days with Detroit Wheels and their hit “Devil With a Blue Dress On,” recently completed the recording of a dozen new original songs here in Chattanooga, saying he is planning to release it on vinyl. Ryder has lived in the Chattanooga area for several years and toured regularly in overseas pre-pandemics. He has agreed to sell it only on vinyl in Germany, Switzerland and Austria with plans to do so in the United States as well.

“I can not tell you why the general public has taken up vinyl again, but as an artist, the quality has improved,” Ryder said. “Although vinyl costs a lot to make, it’s worth it.”

He said the whole vinyl experience is better for the listener.

Best-selling albums of 2021 on Yellow Racket Records

1. “Evermore” – Taylor Swift

2. “Shore” – Fleet Foxes

3. “Cowboy Bebop” Soundtrack – Seat belts

4. “Copycat Killer” EP – Phoebe Bridgers

5. “Stranger in the Alps” – Phoebe Bridgers

6. “Charlie Brown Christmas” – Vince Guaraldi

7. “Cuttin ‘Grass Vol. 2” – Sturgill Simpson

8. “Hov!” – excited like a horse

9. “Punisher” – Phoebe Bridgers

10. “Star-Crossed” – Kacey Musgraves

“For the most part, if you have a turntable, you already have a quality setup, so it’s going to sound better than on your phone or iPad. You also have the liner notes, and you can read who’s on the record, when it was busy and where. “

Vanderhart said fans have proven they want music on vinyl and that his store sold more than 17,000 units last year. About 750 of them were special orders, meaning the rest were from people who came into the store, either looking for something specific or just to browse.

When it opened in August 2020, Vanderhart said he had plans to offer personal appearances and signatures of local and touring bands, and he has created a lounge-like feel with sofas and a coffee shop, but much of it has been done . stopped due to the pandemic.

“We had a couple of events like the Strung Like a Horse album release party,” he said. “That’s why they’re on our list of best-selling albums. They hung out for four or five hours, played some songs and signed albums. They sold 30 or 35 that day, and it keeps getting sold out.”

The local group Call Me Spinster also made an appearance in the store for the release of the self-titled debut EP in the store.

“I expect to see more of that side of the industry this year,” Vanderhart said.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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