How Rivals Become One: The Rough Trade East Story


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“If you can’t beat them, join them.”



The Rough Trade East record shop makes a first within the music and becomes one of the first record shop to develop a streaming and vinyl retailer partnership.

Rather than cowering away from the inevitable power of streaming services and glowering at Spotify from a distance, they have simply used it to their advantage.

By giving their customers an opportunity to sign up to the Rough Trade edit playlist on Apple Music, it allows music lovers to affordably discover new music in the market.

“We proudly and warmly endorse streaming as an affordable way to discover and enjoy music, it being very much a driver of vinyl sales.”


“If someone develops a love for a recording, the best way to cherish that is to follow up the discovery by owning and enjoying it on vinyl.”

— Rough Trade Retail director, Stephen Godfroy

Like developing a first taste, streaming platforms have offered this independent vinyl store an appetiser for discovering new music. The appetiser soon becomes the main when a customer becomes a fan – and then the vinyl is purchased.

Like a try-before-you-buy scheme, streaming platforms have allowed Rough Trade to expand with their UK 2019 sales increasing over 25% and with Rough Trade representing 75% of total release week vinyl sales.

But, will it last?


It certainly seems that the effect has been impactful – a physical vinyl purchase sweetens the deal and validates the music lovers’ decision. There is certainly something a bit better than having it on your shelf than lost in your phone playlist.

But, there will certainly come a time when customers would rather stay on their Spotify and save their pennies on something more flattering.

Regardless of this, however, there will always be a vinyl audience and there will always be vinyl purchases. Rough Trade have seemingly secured this deal and are merely sharing the love for music, even that be with their competitors in the industry.

Come 20 years ago, you would certainly never expect for streaming services and vinyl to be partners in crime to developing the music industry.

Streaming services have become the lazy, how-to guide in music and vinyls? Rather the final flourish of purchase – the dedication made from the music consumer to say “I love this so much, I’m going to spend more than what I need to for this.”

Vinyls are a different class, though, aren’t they?



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