Notes From A Record Store: Bengans, Sweden

According to IFPI data, 84% of money spent on recorded music in Sweden in the first half of 2015 went on streaming.

Just 11% of the country’s recorded music market is claimed by CD, with vinyl taking less than 1%.

But don’t let that fool you into thinking the home of Spotify has completely given up on physical music.

Bengans, with a flagship store located in an old cinema in Gothenburg, is the biggest independent retailer in Sweden – and an institution for those who still like to acquire their music away from their mobile phones.

You’ll find its other outlets in Stockholm and Linköping, with an additional, smaller store in Gothenburg city centre.

The Independent Echo caught up with Peter Sandberg at Bengans to ask all about running a physical music and entertainment retailer in a digital world…


 

How has business been in the past year, and how is the landscape for independent retail in Sweden/the Nordics?

We’re seeing a more stable market for retail this year, with some small but increasing sales.

What is special to you about working in independent music retail?

Is there another kind? Our strength is our staff – they’re the ones who decide what we put in the front row. This gives us freedom to work with what our customer and our staff think is great music.

What is your opinion on music streaming services such as Spotify?

It’s the world order these day and it’s a great service when you want to bring your music with you.

The downside may be that you lose some personality, but that’s a personal view.

I do think a lot of record buyers use Spotify etc. to explore music, and to some extend have it as a lazy way to ”put on a record”. (I do it that way… sometimes with a record cover in my hand…)

What makes you optimistic for the future and what do you wish would change in the music industry?

I’m optimistic to our future as a ‘lifestyle’ provider for those people who something more than just the music on their mobile.

It would be great if the music industry didn’t put all their eggs in one basket and instead work on broader front… give the physical product a chance, there are people who are interested.

What are three records playing in your store right now you’d recommend we listen to?

I really should check with the staff, but I know Anders is playing the upcoming Clutch a lot.

Ane Brun and Ghost is somewhat on powerplay as well.

[Pictured: José Gonzalez plays a packed in-store at Bengans earlier this year]