Opening late last year, Castlemaine’s Record Low is dedicated to the music lovers in the region. What began as an online store, you can now find everything from classic to hip hop vinyls (and every other genre under the sun), music autobiographies, to one-off quirky pins and magazines in store. Forté chat to owner Kate McDonald.
Now five months into the physical store, how did you first come to taking the jump in opening the store and how have the past few months been?
We’ve always worked in music retail. We had come to a point with our careers that it kind of felt like now or never! We were in a position to move from running the online shop in our spare time, to dedicating more time and giving a physical shop a go! The response from the Castlemaine community has been great and we are now in a position to promote local musicians and creatives, and it has been great getting to know them all.
What are some of the biggest challenges of running a record store?
Keeping on top of the releases can be really time consuming – not just knowing what is available, but also making sure we’re aware of all the new releases; who they are, what they sound like, will our customers be interested? Only been five months in, we’re still getting to know our customers, so it can be hit and miss, but that’s where the website picks up the slack.
What are your best-selling records, and what makes them so popular?
D.D. Dumbo – Utopia Defeated flies out. He’s a local boy, so that one’s a no brainer! Miles Davis albums never last long, particularly Birth of the Cool and Kind of Blue. Popular new releases do well, but I think the one that has surprised me the most has been Marquee Moon by Television. It’s a great album, but I didn’t realise it would be in such high demand!
Apart from records, you also sell books, magazines and band tees. Was it important for you to sell items beyond just vinyl?
For sure. Vinyl can be pricey, and sometimes it’s hard for the customer to justify spending the money on the album when they can often listen to it on streaming services. Books and magazines are still a great way of absorbing culture, and there is definitely a crossover with people who love music who also love reading. And who doesn’t love a good band tee? We try to make sure we’ve got really cool, unique ones.
Where do you see the future of vinyl records in the next 10 years?
I don’t think the bubble is going to burst. I think we will continue to see an increase, but it will never reach the height that CDs did. Streaming and downloading will be around for a long while, but there will always be people who also want to engage more in their music, and for them, vinyl is the best format. And that is good news for the indie retailers. It means getting to know their customers, not just getting in the latest top 10 albums.
And what does the foreseeable future hold for Record Low?
We’re hoping to expand. We’d like to move into a space where we can do more events (in-store, DJing), and once we have found a space like that, we’ll be able to do more work with local musicians, artists and creatives, and we’d really like to be involved more with the youth groups in Castlemaine.
Record Low is located at Shop 3, 203 – 205 Barker Street, Castlemaine.