Global intitiative launched to help independent record shops survive coronavirus crisis

There is little doubt that the UK's cultural landscape will look different on the other side of the coronavirus crisis.

For some institutions, venues, and events already facing an existential crisis - this could be the last straw.

That is why music companies have launched a global initiative called #loverecordstores. It aims to support independent record shops closed during the crisis, with some fearing the footfall will be lost forever.

The creative industries have been asked to enlist support from their biggest stars.

Paul Weller, who helped launch the campaign, said: "I'd be lost without my favourite record shops; Rough Trade, Soul Jazz, Honest Johns and all the other independents.

"Let's all keep them all going in this very strange time. Music will lift our spirits and soothe our souls. Love to everyone."

Artists are being asked to record short video clips of them talking about what independent record shops mean to them - perhaps as they were growing up or trying to break into music - and post the clips on social media.

Any music lover is urged to join in - posting on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag 'loverecordstores' - talking about their favourite independent music store and why they visited.

For me, it was Record Village in Scunthorpe.

For a daughter of Indian immigrants who'd moved to the steel town - and who stood out with my siblings because we looked different from just about everybody else - it was the one place I could go and just flick through the vinyl.

The same as every other teenager, heads down, marvelling at the bands we'd never heard of, an intimate and yet communal experience, the experience of belonging.

London's West End theatre district has fallen silent amid the coronavirus crisis. Credit: PA

In the UK the history of independent record stores has been one of highs and lows.

The advent of digital music consumption was a blow but in recent years, as vinyl sales have grown year on year, they are back in demand.

The simple joy of visiting a shop to flick through the records has seen a surge in shoppers through the doors of the shops.

They were massively helped by the creation of Record Store Day, 12 years ago, in which hundreds of vinyl and cassette releases are sold exclusively through independent record stores for one day.

It has become a global event, with an estimated 230 independent record shops from around the UK set to take part, joining thousands around the world.

But the event has been postponed from 18 April until 20 June and there are fears over how long it might get pushed back again, or even cancelled.

There is little doubt that independent record stores have played an important role in supporting developing artists.

Now a simple plea to all those who love music, and who perhaps while looking through the vinyl discovered a new band that became a passion - for teenage me it was Hanoi Rocks - that when this crisis is over, we will not forget the magic of those shops, and turn up to browse again.

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