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Vinyl records sales in Turkey reach new heights in virus era

Interest in vinyl records has grown even more during epidemic, says Istanbul-based record collector and musician

Anadolu Agency TURKEY
Published March 28,2021
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With live concerts out of the picture for the last year-and perhaps for months still to come-more and more Turkish music lovers have turned to old-fashioned vinyl to get the richest enjoyment from their audio experience, say local musicians, collectors, and buyers alike.

Emre Metin Bilginer, the guitarist for Turkish rock band Merlyn, told Anadolu Agency that interest in vinyl platters had grown even more during the epidemic.

"In the early days of the epidemic, people cut their purchases due to fear [of getting the virus] or international cargo not working properly, but now we see that since April 2020, people started to buy more physical media like CDs and cassettes, and especially records," said Bilginer, who is based in the metropolis Istanbul, also the hub of the Turkish music industry.

Bilginer is an avid record collector himself and boasts around 1,000 platters in his collection, including Queen, Jeff Beck, and many hard rock and jazz albums.

Bilginer said finding good period vinyl, especially in the domestic market, became quite difficult since the pandemic started.

"The main reason for this was that record shops that got records from abroad couldn't buy them," he explained.

"Another reason is that people's travels abroad have been restricted," he added.

People used to collect records from visits abroad and bring some back to shops in Turkey, he said, adding that the recent rise in exchange rates also drove up prices, making record collecting a pricier pastime.

Nostalgia and history

According to Bilginer, record collecting has become an enthusiastic hobby, a way of recapturing a nostalgic feeling.

Well-pressed copies are still considered the best vehicle for top-quality sound, he added.

"I also think first editions of albums whose master tapes were destroyed or damaged are valuable sources for witnessing history," he added.
But he said the recent boom in the popularity of records has both an upside and a downside.

The upside was that with the expanding market, more vinyl was released and this led to better, deeper listening habits, he said.

The downside, he explained, was how very poor-quality pressings and "bad record players, which should definitely not be listened to, became widespread."

Citing data by Discogs, a website on audio recordings, Vinyl Factory magazine reported that more than 12 million items were sold on the site in 2020, with vinyl accounting for nearly three-fourths of all sales.

Movies move sales

Like Bilginer, Vedat Ispir, an online record store owner based in Istanbul, also saw a rise in record sales.

According to Ispir, the hit Turkish drama Ethos on Netflix also helped fuel a leap in sales, as the show began with a song from Ferdi Ozbegen, a Turkish singer who had his heyday in the '80s.

He added that his stocks are running low and sales are booming. According to Ispir, record sales are steadily gaining ground.

"There's been a lot of interest, especially during the epidemic period. Sales rose."

"The longer people stay at home, the more they pay attention to records. They see it as a hobby," he added.

According to Bilginer, even though in past years films that used records as a prominent plot point-such as the 2000 US movie High Fidelity or 2008 Turkish film Issiz Adam or Alone-helped boost sales, today the market is a bit different.

"The deaths of famous artists or the decision to quit music such as Daft Punk [can spike sales], their records can be valued more," he said, referring to the famed French electronic duo who called it quits this February, leading to a 2,650% rise in sales, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

After the release of the 2018 Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, it became almost impossible to find the band's records in stores, Bilginer added.