Friday, June 15, 2012

Exciting online music store

My curiosity was piqued when I read this recent announcement in hifi4sale.net: "Just want to inform you guys that Hard Graft Records' online store is now open. We welcome you to point your browser our way: http://hardgraftrecords.com/"

I just had to find out more about this set-up especially since I surfed to its web store and saw some obscure titles. I sent an e-mail to the administrator and got back some answers from Nick, the enterprising music lover who started this online music store.




When did u start this online store?

The online store was set up about a month ago. Hard Graft Records, however, started about a month before that.

Do u hv a brick-and-mortar store or is this a pure Internet store?

Not at the moment, though it was considered when I first started. That said, Hard Graft Records isn’t purely an Internet store either. The online store is used as a means of communicating what’s available. I’d say Hard Graft Records is more of a direct-to-customer model.

Much like independent record stores in the West for example, there’s a fair bit of interaction between the buyer and I. But this takes place over the Internet, via e-mail or social media for instance. Browsing is, of course, crucial to buying records and arrangements can be made to do so, especially when a shipment arrives.

What music genres do u have in stock?

Mainly indie, punk and metal. But I do find genres restrictive. I believe the main consideration is that it has to be remarkable. By remarkable I mean music that creates a buzz, that gets fans talking. I think when one looks at it this way, the genres that emerge can be quite eclectic. Here are some of the recent/upcoming releases that Hard Graft Records carries that would illustrate this.

Bobby Womack’s Bravest Man In The Universe is his first album of original material after 18 years. The album you could say happened when Richard Russell (of XL Recordings) got Womack and Damon Albarn into the studio to see what would happen. This wouldn’t be significant if the end result isn’t great, and it is.

Public Image Ltd’s This Is PiL is another example. It’s John Lydon’s first album after a break of two decades and it’s a great sounding one as well.

And then we have D.O.A.’s first single (7”) from their upcoming album We Come In Peace. It’s called We Occupy and is completely relevant to what’s happening all around us today. It features Jello Biafra and is surprisingly a ska-based tune. 

I also have one particular customer whose tastes I think best reflects what Hard Graft Records is about. His order list ranges from John Coltrane and Muddy Waters right through to Paradise Lost and Hellhammer.

I notice u hv some obscure titles. Is there a market for these?

Obscure titles will always be a bit more challenging to sell. I try not to shy away from these because there’s so much to discover and enjoy both as a music lover and record store owner. My customers clue me into stuff I’m not aware of when they ask me to order it for them. And that is great because a record store is a place where people share and discover music, and a store can’t be that if it only stocked well-known (mainstream) titles or acts. There must be an element of the unknown for discovery to happen.

Where do u source the vinyl and cds from?

I get them from various sources but get the most of my stock from a supplier from Hong Kong.

Why buy from yr store and not other websites?

I won’t say why someone should buy from Hard Graft Records and not somewhere else. All I can and should say is that Hard Graft’s strength lies in the fact that it’s owned and run by a music lover and everything is approached from that standpoint (of a music lover). So it’s a fundamental aspect of the business to stock and/or obtain titles for customers; titles they may have found difficult to get from other sources and to act secondarily as a platform for exchange of good music. Hard Graft can quite quickly tell a customer whether a title is in stock or has to be back ordered.

Besides that, Hard Graft also does pre-orders for upcoming releases. Pre-ordering ensures availability of a title when it is released. This is crucial when it comes to buying vinyl because it’s sometimes difficult to say when is the next pressing, if there is going to be one in the first place.

How many people r involved in this store. only you?

Yes, only me.

Where is it based? from yr home? where is yr home?

Currently, from home. But come July, I will be working from an office in Mid Valley.

How has response been?

The response has been very encouraging.

Customers mostly Malaysian or from other countries?

Hard Graft is meant for and targeted at Malaysians. This is deliberate. As a music lover, I’ve often found it difficult to obtain (for whatever reasons) the stuff that I like. In a way, Hard Graft Records is a solution to my problem and hopefully that of other music lovers as well.

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