By Sarai Coscojuela and Jackdwin Saez
Caracas, Aug 31 (EFE).- Fernando Dominguez, part of a small but growing number of music aficionados in Venezuela with a newfound interest in vinyl records, browses the shelves of the recently opened El Marchante record store one late afternoon in this capital.
A big fan of rock-and-roll and North American and British music, he has found in LPs a new way to listen to his favorite recording artists.
“I really don’t have a vinyl collection, but this retro wave is appealing,” Dominguez told Efe while holding one of Canadian rock band Rush’s albums. “There wasn’t much variety before, nowhere to pick out (records) and now it’s different. I think if I’m not a collector (yet), I’m going to become one.”
His friend, Jose Lombardo, has a collection of around 1,500 LPs at home and will likely expand it with the opening of this new store for music lovers.
“I’ve never stopped collecting vinyls,” he told Efe. “I’ve always been buying vinyls even though there was a time when they were discontinued.”
El Marchante opened its doors as a brick-and-mortar outlet just over a month ago and currently has around 30,000 records in stock.
While shoppers can find works by contemporary artists like Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish, most of the titles are from bands and singers who became giants in the latter part of the 20th century.
In another part of Caracas, Efe spoke to a somewhat more atypical music retailer.
Oscar Viñas has been selling vinyl records since 2015 in the working-class Catia neighborhood as a way to help out some “music-lover friends” who were unable to find LPs in good condition.
“This is like a ‘boom’ right now and has become trendy. A lot of new sellers have appeared,” he said. “What I can tell you is that two more physical stores are coming.”
Viñas, a self-styled vinyl “dealer,” has an inventory of some 8,000 records that has grown thanks to European imports and his purchases of albums from the general public.
His collection even includes a year-end speech in 1971 by then-President Rafael Caldera.
The prices of his records range from less than $10 to $150 for rare imported items like Spanish rock band Heroes del Silencio’s 1990 album “Senderos de Traicion.”
“We sell all kinds of music. We sell salsa, we sell jazz, we sell ’80s rock, we sell Venezuelan folk music,” Viñas said.
He added that some of the most popular genres are traditional Venezuelan music like joropo and tambor (a coastal Afro-Venezuelan music and dance).
“If we’re talking about salsa, Venezuelan groups from the 60s, Federico y su Combo Latino, Sexteto Juventud, Tabaco y sus Metales, Los Calvos … are what people are looking for,” Viñas said.
But classic rock artists from all over the world – including Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Black Sabbath, Nirvana, AC/DC and Soda Stereo – are the undisputed champs when it comes to sales.
Yet despite the upward trend in Venezuela, music producer and promoter Felix Allueva said the country’s vinyl market remains “very small” and that demand mainly comes from customers in their 50s and 60s who are nostalgic for the sound of traditional LPs.
“There’s another niche of new consumers, those consumers between around 19 and twenty-something, who are starting to get into the vinyl culture,” he added. “They start buying their equipment, understand the sound, the characteristics of the sound, of a recording with the analog characteristics, and start to put together their collection. But it’s not a big niche.” EFE