Vinyl sup­plier’s clo­sure shakes record sell­ers


TORONTO One of Canada’s largest dis­trib­u­tors of vinyl records has shut down with lit­tle no­tice — leav­ing some re­tail­ers scram­bling to find al­ter­nate sup­pli­ers and rais­ing ques­tions about higher prices.

RPM Dis­tri­bu­tion, based in Con­cord, Ont., no­ti­fied clients by email on Mon­day that it would be “clos­ing all op­er­a­tions ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately.”

The move in­stantly put a halt to vinyl ship­ments for many smaller mu­sic shops, in­clud­ing Rev­o­lu­tion Records in Hamil­ton.

Owner Scott Bell says he’s re­lied on RPM to sup­ply about 70 per cent of his new in­ven­tory, most which came from ma­jor la­bel Uni­ver­sal, home of Bruce Spring­steen, Imag­ine Drag­ons and an ex­ten­sive hip hop cat­a­logue. He’s now look­ing for a dif­fer­ent com­pany to work as his mid­dle­man.

Other re­tail­ers leaned on RPM for an even larger chunk of their al­bum sup­ply, Bell says, and some are wor­ried about the fall­out, which could in­clude higher prices or a short­age of new ti­tles.

“I’ve not stopped talk­ing about it,” he said of many calls he’s re­ceived from his friends in the re­tail in­dus­try over the past day.

“No­body knows. Ev­ery­body’s won­der­ing what ev­ery­body else is do­ing.”

Sup­pli­ers like RPM serve a unique func­tion in the vinyl busi­ness, work­ing as a fun­nel for main­stream and in­die record la­bels to lo­cal stores, which tend to order small num­bers of each ti­tle.

Uni­ver­sal doesn’t work di­rectly with stores that don’t buy a plen­ti­ful enough in­ven­tory each year, say sev­eral of the own­ers, mak­ing a mid­dle­man their best op­tion.

Bryan Munn of Royal Cat Records in Guelph, Ont., says he first re­al­ized some­thing was amiss with RPM when his post-Christ­mas re­stock order didn’t show up last week.

“I’m already find­ing it a lit­tle bit dif­fi­cult to get some reg­u­larly stocked items,” Munn says.

He sug­gests cus­tomers keep a close eye on vinyl prices in the com­ing weeks, as the lack of sup­ply drive may drive them higher at some stores.


Boxes of vinyl records line the walls at Canada Boy Vinyl in Cal­gary on Oct. 22, 2015. RPM Dis­tri­bu­tion, based in Con­cord, Ont, one of Canada's largest dis­trib­u­tors of vinyl records has shut down with lit­tle no­tice.

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