Resident in Brighton does exactly what it promises.
Co-founded in 2004 by Natasha Youngs with her husband Derry Watkins, Resident has won acclaim as one of the UK’s favourite independent music stores, rich with the latest offerings, deep catalogue – and plenty of bargains.
This selection, plus its famed in-stores and its position as a ticket vendor for local venues, were key factors in Resident being crowned Best Independent Retailer at the Music Week Awards 2015 earlier this year.
Not only that, but Resident runs a successful mail-order operation online, pushing the new albums that are most floating its boat each week.
The Independent Echo asked Natasha Youngs (pictured, inset) why she and Derry are still going strong 11 years after they began…
How has business been in the past year, and how is the landscape for independent retail in England?
Business has been better than ever and we are constantly trading up year on year.
The resurgence of vinyl continues to drive more new people into the shop whilst CD sales remain strong, contrary to the commonly reported doom about their demise.
“CD remains strong, contrary to the commonly reported doom about its demise.”
Independent retail has always been part of what defines Brighton & makes it such a special place.
I can’t speak on behalf of the rest of the country but certainly here, there is a conscious move to support independent, local retail & to really think about where you are spending your hard earned cash.
What is special to you about working in independent music retail?
You get to work with people who are genuinely excited and knowledgeable about the product that they are selling.
That energy is infectious and unbeatable.
“Independent retail tends to attract a more interesting type of customer.”
Independent retail tends to attract a more interesting customer too – one that you can chat with, make recommendations to, learn from and that really appreciates the level of service we offer.
Being a small independent business also means we can react to change in demand quickly, can implement new initiatives and can adapt to the ever-changing industry as and when we need to.
What is your opinion on music streaming services such as Spotify?
Anything that encourages people to listen to and discover music is alright by us.
It’s only a glorified radio service really, isn’t it? We have loads of people come in to buy physical copies of albums that they have been streaming on Spotify, just as we have people coming in to buy copies of albums they’ve heard tracks from on 6Music.
“Spotify’s a glorified radio service really, isn’t it? Loads of people buy copies of albums they’ve streamed.”
Most people who regularly use Spotify will tell you that they didn’t really buy records anyway.
The main issue with it seems to be how the artists earn a living from people listening to them on Spotify but that’s not really for us to comment on.
What makes you optimistic for the future and what do you wish would change in the music industry?
The future feels pretty bright at the moment as there is a cultural move towards owning physical product and towards owning vinyl in particular.
Labels are reacting well to this, shops are embracing this and customers are most definitely wanting to be a part of this revival.
We just desperately need more pressing plants so that the demand can be fulfilled.
If I could ask the music industry to change one thing, it would be to stop over complicating everything. We don’t need six versions of one reissue.
“I wish the music industry would stop over-complicating everything. We don’t need six versions of one reissue.”
We don’t need the same release on three different colours of vinyl. We don’t really need money spent on stickers, posters, beer mats, badges etc. We just need the stock to be available, repressed when necessary and kept at a reasonable price that allows us all to make a living.
If we weren’t all bogged down in the minutiae detail of so many different releases, we’d be free to spend a lot more time out on the shopfloor with customers. Also, record company reps would be free to be out on the road seeing their shops – helping them provide an even better offer and service.
What are three records playing in your store right now you’d recommend we listen to?
Algiers: Algiers (Matador). The Gospel-post-punk power trio challenge the meaning of rock as we know it and they’ve got us all a bit over-excited.
Thee Oh Sees: Mutilator Defeated At Last (Castle Face). Another new batch of brain-melting muscular tunes from John Dwyer and co that are primed to pummel.
Mbongwana Star: From Kinshasa (World Circuit). A newly formed band fusing traditional Congolese rhythms with post punk and electronics inspired by life in the townships around them, “making magic out garbage”.