Yellow Bird Project Launches Online Independent Record Store!
Every so often (but not often enough) I visit this really great site called Yellow Bird Project. Their slogan kind of says it all: “Tshirts + Charity [to the tune of indie rock]”. Or, as they say in more detail:
We are a Montreal-based organization called Yellow Bird Project. We work with an amazing range of indie rock musicians to create unique t-shirt designs that benefit an array of charities, each chosen by the musicians.
Their 3-part mission is a noble one. In short:
- To raise money for charities directly through the barter and trade of our fab tee-shirts.
- To raise awareness for charity organizations and their aims through artists’ endorsement.
- To raise the profile of artists we like.
How could anyone argue with that?
What I’m excited about today, though, is not their latest t-shirt (designed by Hot Chip) but their newly launched sister site, Analog.am – an online, independent record store! While there are other places to buy vinyl online, ranging from superstores like Amazon to vinyl-only stores like SoundStageDirect to sites that aggregate sellers like MusicStack to community-like marketplaces like Discogs, none of them have appealed to me as a place to buy music or even to spend much time surfing and reviewing the latest offerings. Most sites are all function and no content or style – you can search for a particular album on any of the aforementioned indie sites, but that’s about all they’re good for. Other than Amazon (which looks exactly like you’d expect it to), each site suffers from a lack of professionalism that makes the site cluttered and difficult to navigate. What you’re left with is a search box and not much more of use – certainly no interesting content to speak of. Amazon suffers from a different malady – vinyl enthusiasts are not the kind of shoppers who want to frequent a site that is all things to all people. Unless and until they beat everyone else on price (which they don’t come close to right now), the Amazon online vinyl store will never signal the end of the mom and pop music shop the way it did for bookstores.
Analog.am is the first site that gets it right. First of all, the site simply looks beautiful. It’s clean, bright and easy to navigate. This sounds like a small deal, but it separates Analog.am from its competitors and makes someone like me want to stick around and explore. Second, the site is all about vinyl. It sells albums and gear (turntables and accessories) and that’s it. Third, the organization of the site is at once logical yet unique. There are two kinds of categories to choose from, both accessible from the main toolbar – lists (which includes “best of” by decade, staff picks, best sellers, and Christmas music, among others), and genre (with indie first of course, but also rock, electronic, punk, blues, jazz and hip-hop). Lastly, there is a page called “Vinyl 101”, which focuses on playing, handling, storing and cleaning your records.
As of this date, less than three weeks after the launch of the site, it is fair to say that Analog.am is far from a completed project. There is much content to be added, but I could tell immediately that the foundation was there. Sure enough, I found this on the “About Us” page, which summarized exactly what I felt as I perused the site:
We’re a group of music-lovers from all over the map who grew up with cassette mixtapes, burnt CDs and iPod playlists. We are also the guys who brought you Yellow Bird Project, where indie rock meets charity. Even though we have embraced technological “advancement” at every turn, we have also found ourselves pining more and more along the way for records — those big, beautiful album covers, the sound of the needle making contact, the fun of leafing through a stack to re-discover that amazing album you forgot you had.
Make no mistake though, we’re not a boring 90s online store. We’re working on making Analog.am a best of breed e-commerce experience with curated content based on your musical likes. Imagine walking into a record store where stuff is organized just for you, based off stuff you currently listen to, should listen to, and what your friends are listening to — that’s our vision.
This is early on in our independent-online-record-store experiment, so we’d love to hear what you think. Drop us a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org — and thanks for listening.
The people who represent me – once a boy who made mixtapes, then an adult who was (and still is) iPod-obsessed, and now a man rediscovering a love of vinyl – have built a site for me. This is not your father’s online record store. This is for the people like us who embrace vinyl as part of the future. Finally.
 How did this little site get the participation of a who’s-who lineup of indie rock bands? I have no idea. Here’s the full list, which is incredibly impressive. Keep in mind that each one of the following bands actually designed their own t-shirt for the project: Andrew Bird, Au Revoir Simone, Beach House, Bloc Party, Bon Iver, Broken Social Scene, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Daughter, Devendra Banhart, Dry the River, Editors, Elvis Perkins, Emmy the Great, Freelance Whales, Grizzly Bear, Hayden, Holly Throsby, Hot Chip, Jay Reatard, Joseph Arthur, Keaton Henson, King Creosote, K-OS, Laura Veirs, Little Boots, Metric, My Brightest Diamond, Of Montreal, Ra Ra Riot, Rilo Kiley, Stars, Tegan and Sara, The Dears, The Decemberists, The Leisure Society, The Magic Numbers, The National, The New Pornographers, The Shins, TV on the Radio, Whispertown 2000, Wolfmother, Wolf Parade, Yann Tiersen
 The listing at Discogs are so complete with regards to identifying multiple releases and obtaining pricing information and availability that this site is in many ways indispensible to vinyl aficionados. But I don’t find the shopping experience particularly rewarding and the “community” is sorely lacking.
 OK, that’s a small fib. They also sell framed photography of legendary artists. But that only enhances the site’s image as a place of beauty and style, so I won’t hold it against them.