In 2020, the Recording Industry Association of America published a report that certified something that, on the other hand, was common knowledge at traditional record stores: vinyl had outpaced CDs in physical sales revenue. It hadn’t happened since 1986.
The resurgence of vinyl records
In Spain, the same year, 1.2 million vinyls were sold, sales figures similar to 2019, while other physical formats saw sales plummet. In fact, despite the weeks that the stores were closed due to the confinement, the Spanish bought 1,229,000 acetate LPs, compared to 1,338,000 in 2019; the year with the best data in history according to Promusicae.
“Many people came here who expected us to reopen almost eagerly. They missed us,” says Pepe Salvador, one of the founders of Oldies. When the pandemic arrived, the premises he runs together with his wife, Carmen Arnal, and another couple of partners –Vicent Fabuel and Isabel Aguilar– had been active for 42 years. Now Pepe is 68 years old and he can’t take it anymore: this place, one of the oldest in all of Spain, will close if the partners can’t find someone to carry out a generational changeover, to replace them at the front of the store.
Close despite resurfacing
“It has nothing to do with the business going bad, on the contrary: we are doing very well with vinyl. But the partners have already an age. The body is not the same. The energies are not either,” confesses Pepe Salvador to elDiario. it is.
He and Carmen Arnal move restlessly behind a counter, which complicates their movement in two square meters crossed by a screen typical of pandemic times. None to stand still for a single second: they sort index cards, wrap vinyls, pick up phone orders, jot down English album names on notepads with yellowed pages. It seems that if they stop, the store collapses.
Business is good thanks to vinyl, but we’ve been at this for too long. When you see that bankers take early retirement at the age of fifty, you think: when is my turn?
“We have a lot of work, but we’ve been doing this for too long. When you see that bankers take early retirement at 50 years of age, you think: and when is my turn?” Asks Salvador.
“Forty years are many battles, son,” continues Carme Arnal. “This is not just a job: it is a life project full of memories and people for whom this store means something.” Before the Oldies, they both had a bookstore and stationery. In 78, in another place on Zapadores street, they opened a record store called Carraixet, and shortly after they were joined by Isabel Aguilar and Vicent Fabuel, with whom they founded the current Oldies on Mare de Déu de Gràcia street. Today it is one of the stores that has been active for the longest time in the country, along with other legendary places such as Escridiscos in Madrid or Paradiso in Gijón.
“This site needs a change. The people who have been interested for now, and you will understand that I do not say names, are always around 40 years old. It is almost the same as what we have been open!”, Exclaims Pepe Salvador.
“In the panorama there is everything. There are people who find a relief and people who close. In the eighties, in any city like this, you had dozens of stores”, reflects Salvador. “Today there are less and less, but those that are still open, resist. Perhaps for this reason: we have less and less competition,” jokes Arnal.
They both agree that the resurgence of vinyl – nuanced and nuanced if the numbers in Spain and in countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom are compared – has been a ball of oxygen for them. “Fortunately we have seen a change, because vinyl is heard more and more and the profile of the buyer turns out to be very varied,” explains Salvador. “Here come people of 16 and 60 years old, and they come to the same thing: to buy vinyl. And that has given us a push, really.”
The reason for this resurgence, according to Salvador and Arnal, is based on intangible values. “People prefer to have the object”, argues Arnal, “when you listen to Spotify you can’t touch anything, it’s as if you don’t have anything, because it doesn’t belong to you. Besides, they don’t advertise you on vinyl.” Salvador, for his part, confesses that “the CD has never completely convinced me. It has always seemed somewhat cold to me. On the other hand, vinyl has a certain warmth that other formats do not give you. And I think that, like me, many people also think “.
Forty years of music history
The “Leasehold: Reason Here” sign has hung over the Oldies doorway for a few weeks. It stands out in the right window of the store, on a baroque cluster of books, CDs, posters and vinyls. Forty years of activity give us to see with perspective how the understanding and consumption of music has changed in our country.
“When we started, what we sold the most was the Soundtrack of Grease and of Saturday night Fever. Now you sell few soundtracks, “says Carmen Arnal.” Well, we also sold a lot of the Diki, Diki by Amina. I have to say that flamenco of this type was very popular. We called it ‘gypsy music’, and today we hear very similar things “, he describes making a non-veiled reference to a Rosalía album that can be seen behind the counter.
During the seventies and eighties, Oldies positioned itself as one of the key places in Valencian musical culture. In it were records that could not be easily acquired: music in co-official languages of the State, published by independent labels that never passed the doors of an English Court or a Preciados Galleries. “A business must be the more varied the better to be able to survive”, argues Carmen Arnal, “we have never closed ourselves to anything, and we have brought music, singer-songwriters from all over Spain, in any language, even when it was impossible to find his music on no large surface. ”
We are looking for someone with more energy, younger and with their own focus … but who leaves the blind up
“This is more than a store,” says Pepe Salvador, “it is an important place for many people and that is why we want someone younger to resume our work.” For this founder of the mythical Valencian place “Oldies is a cultural reference point”. “I understand that if there is no other option, there are those who choose to sell the entire genre, get rid of the fund, and goodbye very good. But I hope there was continuity,” he adds.
Arnal and Salvador say they are looking for “someone with more energy, younger, who will print their own approach in this place … but who will leave the blind up”. New blood for Oldies to resurface just like vinyl. So that when someone thinks of buying music they can also think of a neighborhood store, local and with history, that time and large stores have not managed to erase from the map.