Ben’s Record Fair

Ben's Record Fair in Old Town Hall

Ben’s Record Fair in Old Town Hall

I had forgotten Ben had his record fair today, until I walked past the Old Town Hall and saw the garish posters.

I would not normally go, as on a Saturday and Guildford, as most town centres, a place to avoid on a Saturday, but I was there for the farmers market.

I popped in.

My initial impression, apart from one stall at the back, overpriced rubbish. Albums that had sold millions, dirty, dog-eared covers (I hate to think the condition of the LP and what played on), £20. My record collection, pristine condition, played on expensive equipment, must be worth a small fortune.

The guy at the back, a former record dealer in Reading, had much more interesting stock.

He had a lot of promo CDs, many of which were individually numbered, with warnings that were watermarked, and we can trace you.

If nothing else, indicates how paranoid are the mainstream labels and how out of touch, and why they are failing businesses.

I had a long chat with the guy who had the stall. He told me how he once had three indie record stores in Reading but was now retired as the businesses was unsustainable. The record labels were offering him one price, supermarkets another price, which simply undercut him (it was cheaper for him to buy from the supermarkets than from the record labels). Or in other words, the major record labels not only shaft music lovers and artists, they also shaft the indie record shops. Incredibly short sighted, as all the indie record shops close and we are left with rubbish like HMV. Exactly the same is happening with books and publishing.

I picked up a promo album The Cole Porter Mix by Patricia Barber, I said I would have two. He then found me the actual CD as released with artwork, notes etc in a jewel case, still a promo. He suggested something else, I may like. I wish now I had taken him up on it. It was like talking to Ben, knows his music, knows his customers. More than can be said for HMV.

I suggested he may like to check out bandcamp, which he had not heard of.

I asked what difference did it make, being on the same day as the farmers market. He said he did not know, as this was his first time.

Ben’s Record Fair was worth attending for this one stall.

The numbers attending the record fair, those leaving with something physical in their hand, exposes the myth that people prefer lo-fi mp3 downloads, or even lower lo-fi digital streaming. Transient, lo-fi streaming services like Spotify, apart from offering poor quality, and racking up your data bill, also rip off artists big time.

Ben’s Record Fair happened to tally with Guildford farmers market, which was the only reason I was there. It would be a good idea to tally with the regular farmers market (first Tuesday of the month), then two attractions to bring people into Guildford midweek.

It would be great if during the summer months, Ben had a stall at the farmers market.

Staycation Live – Godalming – Saturday 2 August and Sunday 3 August 2014.

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