Total music sales continue to increase

In 2011, total music sales reached the 1.6 billion mark for one year. Digital sales made up nearly one third of all music sales for that year, and for the first time surpassed physical records in quantity sold. During the final week of 2011, digital track sales set second highest record ever with 46.4 million track downloads. With the ability to purchase music at our fingertips, it is no wonder that sales have increased to the level that they are today.

The following are three interesting charts of data compiled from 2011:

Where albums were purchased in 2011









































Thank you to Nielsen SoundScan for the data!



The Revival of Vinyl

Obsolete: a word that, with everyday technology, has become increasingly familiar. First came the vinyl record, followed by the 8-track, the cassette, the CD and so on. So why is it that vinyl, one of the most seemingly outdated platforms of music, is experiencing such a revival?

Mike Voldeck, owner of East Grand Record Company on Grand River Avenue, has one idea.

“You just can’t beat that sound of the needle when it first touches a record,” he says.

The experience of holding and listening to a record isn’t something that can be easily replicated with a 99 cent song downloaded from iTunes.

A Nielsen Company study shows that vinyl sales have tripled since 2005, hitting $3.6 million last year. That is the highest sales have been since 1991, increasing by a quarter in just one year.

Another East Lansing business, The Record Lounge on Division Street, is sharing the experience of this resurgence.

“The last year and a half it’s just really escalated,” says owner Heather Frarey about her store’s vinyl sales.

Just like East Grand Record Company, whose small selection of CDs is displayed on a tiny shelf at the front of the store, The Record Lounge carries mostly vinyl records.

“We’re strictly vinyl except local band CDs,” says Frarey.

Many record shops also carry record players and player parts in their inventories. Although vintage record players are often preferred, both new and old can be found in most shops.

“I can’t keep record players in the store,” says Voldeck.

Record Stores Thrive Again

Once again shops can support themselves purely on the sale of vinyl records and the necessary products and services that go along with them.

East Grand Record Company is located in a basement on Grand River. The long room is brightly lit and filled with records; the walls are decorated with album covers and graffiti.

Every Monday afternoon the store hosts a free jazz show in its newly renovated stage, a dark room that has been built into the wall adjacent to the entrance. Additionally, the store acts as a venue for many other shows of all genres of music, all of which are free.

Likewise, The Record Lounge hosts an annual show on the date of the store’s anniversary, as well as acoustic sets on Wednesdays once a month.

Small concerts like this not only help local artists, but they also help promote the store, which is essential to a small business.

But small businesses aren’t the only ones catching onto the upward sales trend. Larger companies are beginning to carry records in their stores as well.

In recent years, Best Buy has started to sell records in their stores as well as online. Although vinyl makes up less than five percent of the store’s music sales, it is clear that the comeback of vinyl is making an impact.

Impact of the Economy

Unfortunately, small businesses struggle to make ends meet in a harsh economy. On Sunday, March 18, East Grand Records went out of business. Not only was East Grand the newest shop in town, but Voldeck also owns a small record label, adding to his expenses. Any records that were not sold by Sunday were given to Salvation Army.

Voldeck’s record label, also named East Grand Record Company, is going smoothly and will release its first album soon.

Despite one business closing, the other two record shops in East Lansing remain open, and both continue to see success.

As sales of vinyl records increase and stores open in cities all across the nation, only time will tell whether or not the trend will stick.

Mike Voldeck’s opinion?

“It’s here to stay.”

Related Articles & Stories:

Business Wire: Nielsen SoundScan

The Toronto Star: Resurgence of vinyl records means new business up their sleeve

Record Pressing: Top Ten Vinyl Myths

Is City Center II Back on Track?

City Center II is once again a major topic of discussion for East Lansing City Council, as well as Strathmore Development company, after being postponed for two-years. The project will involve Michigan State University, as it will be built right on the edge of campus. Next Tuesday, city council will vote on the approval of the project’s pre-development agreement.

Tim Dempsey, East Lansing’s Planning and Community Development Director, has been involved with City Center II since he started working for the city in 2004.

“The project has floundered for a long time, [and] as a result there’s certainly some frustration in having to start over in some respects. Regardless, city council is committed to doing the work necessary to properly vet the project,” Dempsey said.

Moving Forward

East Lansing City Council approved a site plan for the project on April 6, 2010. One year later, Strathmore Development Company received a 12-month extension to the site plan, giving the company until April 6, 2012 to take action toward demolition.

Depending on whether or not the city council approves the pre-development agreement at the Tuesday, April 3rd meeting, the developer plans to have demolition crews at 303 Abbott Road the next morning for deconstruction.

If all goes as planned by April 6, a 75-day period will begin which will allow a third party enough time to assess the risk that the project poses for the city. Assuming the city council approves the project’s development agreement, construction would then begin.

Dempsey estimates that the project, given that it moves forward from this point, would be finished by the end of 2014.

City Center II will include housing, two restaurants, a hotel, and a parking structure. Additionally, there will be a new black box theater for Michigan State University. The project, which will consist of three buildings, will be built on the corner of Abbott Road and Grand River.

According to East Lansing Mayor Diane Goddeeris, there has never been a project of this size in the city.

The project, which is estimated to cost $105 million, will cause an annual tax increase of a quarter of a percent for residents of East Lansing.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us to transform a corner in the downtown area,” Mayor Goddeeris said. “If the project can be successful, it will be great for the city of East Lansing.”

Although there is still a long way to go in getting a project of this magnitude off the ground, City Center II has gained quite a bit of momentum this month.

Opposition to the Project

At the end of each city council meeting regarding this issue, the audience was given a chance to speak their minds on City Center II. It turns out, not everyone in East Lansing is on board with the project.

Hans Larsen, 37, has been an East Lansing resident for the majority of his life, and ran for city council in 2009 and 2011.

Larsen believes that there is “rampant corruption involved in this project.” He argues that the City Planning Department illegally obtained properties located in a Historic District using the threat of Eminent Domain.

Additionally, many members of the community are skeptical of Strathmore Development Company president Scott Chappelle.

“The developer has been involved in multiple lawsuits, liens, foreclosures, and tax delinquencies, involving multiple failed projects,” said Larsen. “I have references for everything.”

“I am not against City Center II. I am against the corruption, deception, and public funding of a financially insolvent development for a grandiose project that we do not need and cannot afford now.”

Despite the efforts of those opposed to the project, meetings will continue with next Tuesday’s vote on the City Center II pre-development agreement.

Related News Stories:

Lansing State Journal: City Center II plan advances in East Lansing

The State News: Workers set stage for City Center II project