According to BPI figures, in 2021 vinyl purchases have reached their highest level in over three decades, cassette sales have surged and the decline of the CD has slowed down. Townsend Music‘s direct-to-consumer e-commerce services have been front and centre in the public’s continued devotion to physical music formats throughout.
To take us into 2022, here’s Part 2 of of our look at a year of unprecedented evolution of our business, taking in the chart action, industry awards and exciting campaigns that we were honoured to be a part of.
As Euro 2020-fever heated up the summer, so did anticipation for the second Record Store Day drop. With a list of releases so big, they had to do it twice, Record Store Day 2021 – Drop 2 took place on Saturday 17th July, with Townsend Music once again stocking our store with a scintillating selection of coloured vinyl and desirable limited-edition releases from Freddie Mercury, Pearl Jam, The Happy Mondays and many more.
Speaking of desirable limited-edition releases, one record proved particularly alluring at the end of the month, as Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ exceeded a staggering one billion views on YouTube. With this landmark achievement close to the 34th anniversary of the track’s original release on July 27th, 1987, BMG issued a limited numbered and coloured 7” vinyl single, signed by Rick Astley and swiftly snapped up by customers such as this lucky Reddit user.
“I am kind of a big deal.” – Rick Astley
Album campaigns from respected activist and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, plus a store for the latest Iron Maiden album Senjutsu, launched in July. We also had the pleasure of the pre-order campaign for Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Zuzu‘s debut album Queensway Tunnel, her previous run of EPs always a firm favourite on the office stereo.
Mercury Music Award nominations for Hannah Peel’s Fir Wave and Arlo Parks‘ ubiquitous Collapsed In Sunbeams had us crossing our fingers ahead of the September Awards.
Following our successful rollout of the expansion of our services with campaigns from The Byson Family and Kyle Falconer, August was time to make the announcement of our D2C+ service public. Alongside new album campaigns from indie-rock heavy-hitters Feeder and The Sherlocks and we were also in a position to throw our full D2C+ support behind newcomers like Zuzu.
“This is a natural evolution for our company,” Townsend Music sales director Bruce McKenzie explained to Music Week. “During lockdown, many of our D2C clients approached us for help with releasing new products to generate revenue when touring was off the table. We successfully took a number of live albums from conception to market and then found other clients were looking for extra levels of support such as management and business strategy.”
“Our aim with D2C+ is to give artists a new and exciting way to bring products to market” – Paul Barton, D2C+ Manager
Our social media channels continued to thrive with August delivering our biggest Instagram post of the year via a cheekily pedantic twist on the classic Bart Simpson chalkboard meme. Our Twitter account also generated the year’s most excitement and engagement with a Tweet asking the question on all our lips: What is the greatest album of the Britpop era?
Some sizeable campaign launches kept us busy throughout August, including the physical release of the companion album to Oasis’s Knebworth 1996 documentary movie and a brand new album from indie-rockers The Wombats. Alongside Top 10 chart successes for Will Young (Crying On The Bathroom Floor) and Barbra Streisand (Release Me 2) another of this month’s highlights was helping Shaun Ryder to finally release ‘Visits From Future Technology‘ – a record thought lost in the sands of time and now seeing the light of day on signed CD and vinyl!
Back in 2020, with the global pandemic and month-long lockdowns affecting everyone’s plans, musicians and artists were among the hardest hit. Album campaigns, release schedules and tour bookings ended up irrevocably affected across the board, so Townsend Music stepped in to assist a line-up of essential artists – Shed Seven, James, Supergrass, The Darkness and Bryan Ferry – to provide new live albums for the fans.
Dropping in September 2021 was our latest foray into these vinyl-exclusive albums:
Best Of Live From The Cellar Of Dreams by Embrace. A coloured vinyl compilation of their Live From The Cellar Of Dreams sessions, these deluxe formats look and sound incredible, especially after a visit to our warehouse by the band to sign the sleeves,
Further chart smashes kept September sizzling, with Steps (What The Future Hold Part 2), The Stranglers (Dark Matters), The Vaccines (Back In Love City), Millionz (Provisional License) and Iron Maiden (Senjutsu) all landing in the Official Charts Top 10 and Sugababes‘ One Touch reissue and remixes causing plenty of excitement on our social media channels.
Foreshadowing a major campaign launch in October, our year’s most far-Reaching Facebook post celebrated Shed Seven’s debut album Change Giver. Major titles from Richard Ashcroft, The Divine Comedy and Twin Atlantic soon followed, plus a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it limited edition 12″ white label release for long-time partners The Prodigy thrilled customers lucky enough to grab a copy. And the Mercury Music Prize? Snapped up by Arlo Parks for Collapsed In Sunbeams. 2021 belonged to Arlo.
October kicked the year into high gear with another very special development for Townsend Music. With postal services and logistics a continued area of focus for the company, we partnered with a fulfilment company in the US to arrange geo-specific fulfilment for artists with significant fanbases on both sides of the pond. The first of these campaigns is the new SLASH feat. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators album 4, with more to roll out in 2022.
Another milestone for us came with Shed Seven’s A Maximum High 25th Anniversary Box Set, a celebration of Shed Seven’s crowning recorded achievement to date, originally released on 1st April 1996. Townsend Music’s New Business Manager Ben James worked with the band on the creation of their first-ever box set, collectively digging through the archives and mixing and remastering unreleased material to bring A Maximum High Special Edition to vinyl for the very first time. New artwork, design and expanded formats manufactured to honour that golden era of the band included a never before heard live gig from Hanover Grand in 1996 and an anniversary range of merchandise.
“It’s time to immerse yourself in A 2021 Maximum High” – Rick Witter 🎳
National Album Day returned on October 16th 2021 with a timely theme of ‘Celebrating Women In Music’, shining a light on the huge contribution made by women and female-identifying artists to our music and culture through the art form of the album. With releases from Garbage, Róisín Murphy and Solange, Townsend Music customers were quick to snap up the limited vinyl editions on offer, none more in demand than Kylie Minogue’s Fever (20th Anniversary Edition) limited edition white vinyl
Hard rocking album campaigns for Reef and Deep Purple rubbed shoulders with new music from Johnny Marr, Jamie Cullum and Craig David. Plus more Top 10 chart action for Natalie Imbruglia (Firebird), Potter Paper (Thanks For Waiting) and Duran Duran (Future Past) rounded out a hectic October!
Twenty-five years ago, Oasis played the first of two era-defining concerts at Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire on the 10th and 11th August 1996. Released alongside the cinema debut of the feature-length documentary film of the event, Knebworth 1996 was available on multiple formats including an Exclusive Super Deluxe Box Set on the official Oasis store.
Directed by Grammy nominee Jake Scott, by the week after its release, the film had become the highest-grossing documentary of 2021 in the UK and the accompanying album charted at Number 4 in the Official Charts.
“The important thing for us is to connect with as many fans of the band as possible as well as making some new ones. Oasis Knebworth 1996 is the definitive Oasis live performance and will have a place in the band’s catalogue for years to come.” – Oasis co-manager Alec McKinlay
November’s album campaign launches were possibly the strongest of the year, including a new record from progressive rock legends Porcupine Tree, as well as indie-rockers Bloc Party and Placebo. Our exciting new partnership with Domino Records produced Franz Ferdinand’s Hits To The Head and the debut album campaign for one of the most buzz-generating bands on earth, Wet Leg, about whom none other than Simon Le Bon recently gushed to Sky News: “Wet Leg is definitely my artist of the year. This female duo is from the Isle of Wight and their track ‘Chaise Longue‘ is genius!”
A key release for November arrived with Wet Wet Wet’s The Journey, whose album pre-order journey had been fortified by extensive Making Music updates from the beloved Scottish pop group. Acoustic Hymns by Richard Ashcroft landed in the Official Album Charts at Number 2 and, with a lift from the myriad of fabulous formats available for her “Guest List Edition”, Kylie’s Disco danced its way back into the Top 10.
As news of Townsend Music’s enhanced services gathered momentum through the music business, the UK’s premier industry-journal Music Week ran a feature on Feeder and Sea Power’s (formerly British Sea Power) planned releases in the first quarter of 2022 as part of Townsend Music’s D2C+ initiative.
With our partners Absolute providing label services, Townsend Music is now fully enabled to assist select artists, labels and other rights-holders in bringing a range of products from conception to market including studio albums, live albums and merchandise, as well as publishing coffee table books, with many more D2C+ projects lined up for 2022.
“Teaming up with Absolute and Townsend has given us a direct route to our loyal fanbase plus additional clout to push into a wider audience.” – Matt Page (Feeder Manager)
A Number 4 hit for the return of JLS with 2.0 added to the scoreboard of a year with plenty of Official Chart action, including the triumph of Leigh indie-pop sensations The Lottery Winners, whose Number 11 in the Official Charts was accepted tongue-in-cheek as ‘two number ones’ for them and their independent label Modern Sky during social media merrymaking.
December is the season for giving and two charity campaigns closed out a spectacular year with the opportunity to provide support for some very worthwhile causes. The first official Christmas single in aid of Children In Need came in the guise of ‘Merry Christmas Everyone‘ by BBC TV’s Andy And The Odd Socks, available to buy on CD single to support children across the UK. Ladbaby’s Official Store also offered a limited version of their Christmas Number 1 single ‘Sausage Rolls For Everyone‘ featuring Ed Sheeran & Elton John. The upbeat and cheeky ‘Sausage Roll’ take of Ed and Elton’s festive track ‘Merry Christmas’, was available on a CD single signed by Ladbaby and Ed Sheeran, with all proceeds donated to food bank charity the Trussell Trust to support their campaign to end food hunger in the UK.
After the triumphs and considerable challenges of 2021, all that remains is for us to wish you a year filled with health, happiness and – most of all – great music! Happy New Year 2022!