We work with fantastic indie stores and we want you to get to know them! This month is the turn of Union Music Store, in Lewes, specialised in Folk, Country and Americana.
Please introduce yourself and give a brief bit of background / history to the shop…
Stevie Freeman from Union Music Store, we opened the doors to Union 5 years ago – we started it as an experiment, a pop up shop really, and here we still are going from strength to strength! We have small team of dedicated staff and our store manager Emma really knows her onions – her and Jamie are also in a band – The Jamie Freeman Agreement – so we have a great bond here. We specialise in Folk, Country and Americana releases and we also sell instruments and accessories, prints, T shirts, record players etc. When we opened one of the things we felt needed to be a strong USP was live music, so we promote a few gigs a month and also have regular in-stores, most Saturdays at 3pm we have live acoustic in-stores here on our tiny stage.
What positive developments and changes for independent music retail have you noticed occurring recently?
People want to shop in independent stores, they love the attention they get, the quality of service and advice. We are lucky that in a town like Lewes indie shops are very important and therefore supported. We have noticed that our prices are now in line with the online giants so there is less reason to buy there and more reason to build a relationship with us, real music lovers hate what those big retailers stand for anyway! There has been a real shift towards cool Americana music and the understanding of the genre that has helped us as a specialist shop get more regulars.
Record Store Day is also such a huge party for us, yes the limited edition releases are important but we mainly have a great fun day with live music stage outside and a barrel of local Harveys beer on tap – its like a birthday party!
What more do you think can be done to help independent music retail?
Unique releases for indies only, signed copies, extra add-ons like postcards or download codes, high profile in-stores or signings – all of these things are great and exciting! It’s important for labels and bands to understand what indies can do to raise the profile of releases when given a chance. We also feel that distributors and labels should visit the shops, see what they stand for and meet the staff – get to know who is working on the ground to make sales 🙂
How is the local music scene in Lewes? What role do you think an independent music store can / should have in its local community?
Without sounding like we are blowing our own trumpet too much, we have been told that this store has changed the music scene in the town, we bring great bands here for live shows and in-stores, we have created a scene that other promoters have come in on and you can now go out and see live music most nights a week here. We can’t take full responsibility for Mumford and Sons choosing this town for one of the Gentlemen of The Road festivals but we know for a fact that Union and Harveys – our local brewery, certainly helped them decide we were the right town – it was an amazing weekend , a real celebration of music.
Finally, what three recent / forthcoming releases are you particularly enjoying at the moment?
John Moreland ‘High on Tulsa Heat’ is a beautiful album that we can’t fault.
Lucinda Williams ‘The Ghosts Of Highway 20’ – we adore Lucinda and think she is Americana Royalty, looking forward to getting to know this album.
Applewood Road ‘Applewood Road’ – out next month, we have listened to preview and seen them live in Nashville, three beautiful humans with great harmonies, a real mix of song writing talent, think this record will be a keeper! They will be doing a special online show from the store on the day of release so check out our website for details.