If you consider yourself a vinyl aficionado, you have likely met Rick Wilkerson. He owns and operates Irvington Vinyl, which shares a storefront with Bookmamas at 9 Johnson Ave. (See a message from Rick on YouTube.)
Along with two partners, Rick started his first record store, Missing Link Records, in 1994 in Broad Ripple, but it closed in 2008. He ventured into the antique business with another partner in 2012 with Irvington Vintage, at the corner of Audubon Road and Bonna Avenue. That changed focus, names, and location to become Irvington Vinyl, in 2014, where he offers both used records and new releases. Rick says, “Business is still growing, and people are still finding us.” He sees his customer base drawing primarily from the east and southeast sectors of the city, with some sales generated online.
Rick also owns TimeChange Records. He archives older Indiana music on vinyl and CD. Through TimeChange, he either reissues the music or releases it for the first time. He’s currently working with a friend from Last Four Digits to release their music.
As if he has nothing else to keep him busy, Rick is also heavily involved in the Indiana Music and Entertainment Museum. The IMEM displays Indiana music, broadcasting and film artifacts and is looking for funding so they can open a public bricks-and-mortar space. He keeps an eye open for valuable Hoosier gems to put on display in the museum.
“STREAMING IS KILLING DOWNLOADING”
CD sales used to dominate the market, but their share is plummeting and is now less than 20% of music sales. Vinyl has reached about 6% of sales, up from less than 1%, but people largely pay for streaming now rather than downloading digital files. Rick says most young consumers don’t care to own their music like generations past, mostly because they can listen to anything they want through streaming. A small percentage of people, though, still want to own their physical music, and this keeps both vinyl and CDs alive.
INDUSTRY INSIDER INFO
Currently only a handful of record pressing plants remain in the U.S., with old equipment “being held together with chewing gum and shoe strings.” The industry is slowly starting to see new production of equipment, according to Rick.
SOME “DID YOU KNOW?” POINTS
- The cost of releasing a vinyl LP is three to four times higher than the cost of releasing a CD.
- In 2007, 1.3 million records sold.
- In 2015, record sales soared to 11.9 million.
- Vinyl LPs from the late 1980s to early 1990s (including original Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam LPs) are valuable due to their scarcity and demand.
RECORD STORE DAY
In 2008, a few record store owners introduced Record Store Day (RSD) in an effort to reverse the downward record sales trend. The response was minimal for the first year. There were 15 to 20 special releases.
This year, on Saturday, April 22, Irvington Vinyl will open at 8 a.m. and offer 400 to 500 special releases just for this day. Many will be limited editions from artists in high demand and will sell quickly and then go out of print. The line stretches around the block, and Rick has to bring in extra staff for that day.
In conjunction with RSD, State Street Pub will provide live music, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., outside at 10 Johnson Avenue, as well as their Electric Breakfast. Affordable Hi-Fi will offer special deals on their Music Hall turntables at both Irvington Vinyl and across the street at Guitar Town.
Sales on all special releases are first come-first served, in keeping with the RSD contract. The contract also requires that no record sell for more than 20% over list price.
Over the years and with the internet changing how consumers get their information, Rick has learned, “Customers know more than you do about what they love.” He stands ready to serve as a facilitator in getting those things into your hands!
How long have you lived and/or worked here in Irvington?
I moved to the Irvington area in 2010 and now live in Community Heights. Previously, I lived in Bosart Brown.
What do you do for fun?
I work a lot. I play the bass and guitar. I watch TV. I ride my bike to work.
What’s your favorite walk, bike ride, block, or view in the neighborhood?
Irvington is beautiful everywhere you go. My bike ride is basically to and from the shop. I love Ellenberger and ride through it a lot.
If you were Mayor of Irvington for a day, what would you do first?
Fix the Coal Yard. It’s not for me to say that I would do something that somebody else hasn’t tried, but I know that’s a concern in the neighborhood.
What’s your connection to IDO?
I’m a member of the Irvington Business Association, which is in partnership with Irvington Development Organization.