Despite ever-increasing sales and a less and less homogeneous clientele, independent record stores fear that, with Record Store Day approaching, the rise in vinyl prices will blow the needle of music lovers’ enthusiasm. .

” Rising prices. Jean-François Rioux drops these words as a doctor would pronounce a serious diagnosis. For the owner of Le Vacarme, a record store in Plaza Saint-Hubert, the proverbial inflation alone cannot explain the surge he has witnessed since the end of the pandemic, in the catalogs of record giants.

Something beautiful ? According to a report by the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl recorded growing sales in 2022 for the 16th consecutive year, an increase of 17% compared to 2021. Vinyl thus surpassed compact discs for the first time since 1987.

At home, according to the latest analysis from the Observatoire de la culture et des communications du Québec, 197,100 records found buyers in the province in 2021, an increase of 26.4%, compared to 1,003,000 CDs (down 7 .6%).

At the Aux 33 tours store, the small vinyl superstore located on Mont-Royal Avenue East, logistics director Patrick Chartier noticed a diversification of the clientele. “Before, it was 70% male, whereas now we tend towards 40% female. And we have as many older people coming to buy back the records they put in the trash in 1991 as young people. »

But, he fears, “if prices continue to soar, vinyl will no longer be accessible to teenagers, to those who are new to music. The bubble could eventually burst.”

The second-hand market is also suffering from the increase in demand created by the pandemic, during which several Sunday music lovers have discovered a vocation as a collector. Christophe B. De Muri, co-owner of the café and record store 180 g, in Rosemont, has resolved to also place used cassettes and CDs on his displays, the price of used vinyl in some cases being ridiculous.

“What motivated, at least in part, the return of vinyl was the pleasure of going to garage sales, basements, and coming across classic patties, at modest prices, recalls -he. That’s why today I’m having a lot more fun finding a $1 Ghostface Killah Supreme Clientele CD than a $150 bad-ass vinyl copy. »

How to resist this bubble? By turning to Quebec music, replies Jean-François Rioux, who is delighted with the generally much more reasonable prices for albums by artists from here – often between $20 and $30, compared to $48.99 for 30 from Adele or $56.99 for Kendrick Lamar’s double Mr Morale And The Big Steppers. “‘Let me discover a local novelty’, it’s a phrase we’ve heard much more regularly since the pandemic,” he says.

“The fact that it’s sometimes up to half the price of American stuff encourages people to try new things,” adds Christophe B. De Muri, who showcases Montreal musicians dropping off their records at 180 g by immortalizing their visit using a photo then published on Instagram. “It’s become that there are artists who call us to ask us if they can come and take the famous photo! »

But how do Quebec record labels manage to sell their products at a lower price than their American competitors? Impossible for La Presse to get an answer from Sony or Universal. “It’s simple: it’s because the majors like to make money more than us,” says Jean-Christian Aubry, label and operations director at Bonsound, the label of Lisa LeBlanc, Louanges and Milk.

If the democratization of music is inscribed in the DNA of the house, he underlines, the implacable law of supply and demand is also at work here.

While a Philippe B record at such a price might cool his fans.

With initial pressings varying between 500 and 1000 copies, but profit margins of up to $10, vinyl can be a significant part of the business plan surrounding the marketing of an album for a Quebec artist who derives little income from streaming platforms.

Another problem: Quebec labels have been facing since the pandemic – again it – long manufacturing times – on average six months, according to Jean-Christian Aubry. There are only six such record factories in Canada. “What I wouldn’t want, he concludes, is for vinyl to become a luxury product, a collector’s item. You have to remember what it is, in the beginning: a cool medium to listen to our favorite music. »