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Amazon stops stocking physical music, worst case for months

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  • Amazon stops stocking physical music, worst case for months

    Record Labels Take Another Hit as Amazon Stops Accepting Vinyl and CD Shipments

    Although probably no one will begrudge Amazon prioritizing essential goods and services during a pandemic, the company’s decision to put a temporary halt to incoming shipments of physical media is subjecting record labels — particularly independent imprints that do a good deal of business in vinyl and CDs — to yet another blow.

    Amazon has announced that its warehouses has “temporarily disabled shipment creation” for discretionary items through at least April 5. That doesn’t have to do with the outflow of product from Amazon, but inflow. Amazon is declaring an immediate emphasis on the kind of household and medical supplies that have been quick to sell out, and which customers are having a hard time finding in person. Their message to record labels and distributors: Please stop sending us anything, until further notice.

    That doesn’t mean that products already sitting in Amazon warehouses won’t still be up for sale to consumers. But replenishing stock, or stocking new music releases, is something that will have to wait for weeks — or, some fear, months.

    “Considering Amazon is the biggest record retailer in the world, I have to imagine that all record labels will take a hit,” says Cheryl Pawelski, the Grammy-winning co-founder of Omnivore Records, adding that with “brick and mortar retail under duress at this time as well, I can’t say that the outlook is good.”

    “We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock,” Amazon said in a statement to third-party sellers this week. “With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and deliver these products to customers. For products other than these, we have temporarily disabled shipment creation. … We understand this is a change for our selling partners and appreciate their understanding as we temporarily prioritize these products for customers.”

    Other web retailers may be able to step in and fill the gap for labels and customers. Some local record stores that remain open could benefit from Amazon’s shortages, too, although the ability of brick-and-mortar shops to keep their doors open as customers increasingly stay home is in question.

    A lack of new physical media for sale at Amazon won’t have much impact on the top sellers of the day. (Stats from Rolling Stone and BuzzAngle Media show that this week’s No. 1 album, by rapper Lil Uzi Vert, was streamed 351 million times but sold just 7,800 albums — all of those digital, since it wasn’t even released on CD or vinyl.) But many smaller labels with constituencies that aren’t satisfied by streaming could be devastated if Amazon turns them away for long.

    Lest anyone think that physical media is so diminished in the face of streaming that no one should be concerned about a hiatus, recent stats tell a different tale for how much it means to some labels. A study released by the RIAA in February said that physical sales accounted for just 10% of the music marketplace in 2019. But while CD sales were down 12% for the year, to $615 million in revenue, vinyl sales were actually up by 19%, bringing in $504 million in sales — marking the biggest year for vinyl since 1988. Even as one format wanes while the other waxes, vinyl and CDs together are still a billion-dollar annual business. Or at least they were, pre-coronavirus.

    Although the pronounced growth in the vinyl sector has been something to celebrate, the industry has seen a string of bad news stories affecting the future of LPs — all of it having to do with the supply chain, and none of it due to diminishing demand.

    “The hits keep on a-comin’,” said the co-president of catalog label Real Gone Records, ruefully, on his Facebook page after the Amazon announcement. The “hits” he speaks of are a series of body blows that include a February fire that destroyed a lacquer production factory in Banning, Calif., one of only two in the world that could produce the material for the master discs that are an essential component in manufacturing vinyl records. Then there have been the problems befalling brick-and-mortar stores as distribution has been consolidated to one company, Direct Shot Distributing, that’s recently become famous even to consumers for bottlenecks that have often kept shops from getting the product they order.

    Most recently, as a result of coronavirus concerns, the biggest day of the year for most independent music retailers, Record Store Day, was moved off its April 18 spot and pushed back to June 20. Even a June date for RSD may seem optimistic now, with predictions that carefree public assemblage may not be a regular occurrence again until farther into the year.

    A Post Malone vinyl release that was supposed to come out on Record Store Day has now been rebranded as a normal indie store exclusive with an April 24 release date. Other labels sitting on boxes of the 400-plus RSD releases that were announced less than two weeks ago could also decide not to wait for a mass shopping extravaganza to be viable again. But if they did decide to opt out of waiting for RSD and put all those releases out on their own timing, where would they sell them? As of this week, probably not Amazon.

    2019 Year End Charts: The 20/20 Experience

  • #2
    I noticed that Amazon took physical CDs out for a few weeks now. Streaming is taking over and we have too deal with it.
    Taylor Swift - Colbie Caillat - Carrie Underwood - Miranda Lambert


    • #3
      Got an email today from Amazon to say that my album order (The Birthday Massacre) had been put back to April 10th (April 16th arrival). They didn't offer the explanation above but i assumed it was the artist that moved it due to the virus. Good thing i saw this post as the same item still has the original release date (March 27th) on the record label site - and is also cheaper. Even if it takes two weeks to get here from America i'd still get it quicker. The main reason i chose Amazon was you get an instant download. But with streaming also available at midnight on release, that will do until the CD arrives.

      EDIT: label site wouldn't accept my details. And the shipping amount is more than the CD. Um. Back to Amazon then... MP3 is out 27th anyway - doh!
      Last edited by Blondini; Wed March 18th, 2020, 19:57.
      Tony's Charts ft Hits / Albums (23rd May 20) - Camden Cox, Cigarettes After Sex, Cam, Leftwing:Kody, Zella Day, Janet Devlin, Empathy Test, Dagny, Steve Earle and The Dukes, Badly Drawn Boy, Josh Garrels, Owen Pallett, Tim Burgess


      • #4
        Originally posted by Blondini View Post
        EDIT: label site wouldn't accept my details. And the shipping amount is more than the CD. Um. Back to Amazon then...
        Yeah, shipping from the label sites is crazy af sometimes. I wanted to get Dua's new album, the deluxe boxset with signed art. That's 45 euros and the shipping would be 38 euros. No thank you maam. On the other hand I've ordered some other stuff from UK official stores from other artists and the shipping ranged from 5 -10 euros which is way more reasonable. I pre-ordered Perfume Genius' new album that comes with a shirt and a poster and the shipping was 9 euros.
        I have received many gifts from God,
        but this is the first time I have ever received a gift from a goddess

        Don McLean on Madonna's version of American Pie


        • #6
          I'm not an Amazon consumer but a physical buyer and I want my format to return once this pandemic is over. Streaming just isn't doing it for me and devaluates the art of music imo.


          • #7
            So - surprisingly - nearly all of this week's (March 27th) scheduled CDs are still coming out. Apart from TBM, the only other one to be put back is the Depeche Mode box set. Even the Donna Summer box set is still on schedule.

            TBM came out early on Bandcamp so i've used that instead. God knows when i'll get the CD, though.
            Tony's Charts ft Hits / Albums (23rd May 20) - Camden Cox, Cigarettes After Sex, Cam, Leftwing:Kody, Zella Day, Janet Devlin, Empathy Test, Dagny, Steve Earle and The Dukes, Badly Drawn Boy, Josh Garrels, Owen Pallett, Tim Burgess


            • #8
              As an Amazon driver I can say for sure I've been delivering non-essential goods all week, though they did say that existing stock will still be sold, but some customers have been surprised that their items have arrived as they had expected a delay but despite what they've said publicly, they still seem to be pushing the same delivery times.
              1 Groove Armada|2 Gjons Tears |3 Tove Lo|4 Jack Garratt |5 Sigma|


              • #9
                ^^ Having said this, when I've looked on the website today, it seems most non-essential items have been pushed back to a delivery date of April 24, though the essential items that they've said they're making room for all still seem to be out of stock.

                Unlike other companies, it seems they have made very little comment publicly, no e-mail to customers, no announcement on the website. It almost seems like they're trying to carry on as normal without drawing attention to themselves.
                1 Groove Armada|2 Gjons Tears |3 Tove Lo|4 Jack Garratt |5 Sigma|