Online record retailer Insound to close

Vinyl LP sales were a bright spot for the music industry in 2014, but that couldn't keep open.
Vinyl LP sales were a bright spot for the music industry in 2014, but that couldn’t keep open.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles TImes)

The vinyl revival wasn’t enough to keep one of its earliest champions afloat: Insound, the 16-year-old New York-based online music retailer, has announced that it will shutter by the end of March.

Insound tweeted several messages confirming the closure earlier Thursday. “You might have already heard,… and it’s true,” they wrote. “After 16 years of slinging vinyl, we are sad to say that due to corporate cost-cutting measures, we’ll be closing at the end of the month.”

Representatives for the company did not immediately return emails from The Times.

In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, as thousands of physical record stores closed, Insound -- acquired by Warner Music’s Alternative Distribution Alliance in 2008 -- became a major figurehead in the vinyl revival as one of the few outlets where indie fans and, eventually, more mainstream audiences outside of major cities could find a comprehensive catalog of new, independent, physical music. Founder Matt Wishnow told The Times that even as early as 2009, half of the site’s sales were in new vinyl LPs.


During the indie-rock wave of the early and mid-’00s, the site became an essential one-stop retailer for rising acts and their fans. Even as MP3s and streaming cornered the digital music market, the site did a brisk business selling turntables and vinyl accessories. They were also a regular supporter of small acts, issuing a “Tour Support” series of exclusive 45s and starting a record club for exposing new acts to longtime clientele.

But even in the bull market for LPs — up 52% in 2014, the seventh year in a row of growth — as new local vinyl stores opened in gentrifying neighborhoods across America, and as streaming services cleaved off the market for more casual fans, perhaps Insound’s niche dissolved. It couldn’t beat Spotify on price and access and couldn’t beat neighborhood stores on personal experience. As major labels like Warner trimmed margins, even Insound’s vinyl savvy might not have been enough to keep them afloat.

The site said that all current orders will be filled, but if you had that Tobias Jesso Jr. LP coming in the mail, it may be the last time it comes with an Insound sticker.

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