A few years ago, many physical record stores in Beijing closed, but Duyin Records, which is located on Gulou West Street where the thickest old Beijing culture lies, still survives. Duyin Records was founded in 2011 by Guo Cheng and Zhou Yin. For the love of indie music, they decided to operate indie rock music in their own ways. Therefore, Duyin Records is not only a record store but also a label.
The store is not big, but it has the most classic bands, the biggest artists, and rare version records. Records are listed on both sides of the wall and the floor, as well as some peripherals. Except for exported CDs from overseas, there are original records, limited edition color records, vinyl records and secondhand discs.
Duyin Records can help indie musicians and indie bands produce and release albums. Its business covers indie music culture communication and indie musician cooperation, broker and performance, record production and releasing, festival, band signing in the store and so on.
In recent days, CMBN visited Duyin Records, and talked with the owner – Guo Cheng about Duyin’s story. Guo Cheng’s hometown is Shandong Province. He wore casual clothes: blue jeans with black jacket. He had pigtailed long hair. His look was in rock style. Between his words, we felt the simplicity and honesty of Shandong people.
The followings are the stories of this record store:
Before, I worked in a label. I love rock music and always buy records. In fact, it also meets my wish when I was a child. I was born in a small city, so it was a pleasure for me to buy a genuine records. Owning a record store in Beijing also gives me a sense of special happiness.
The idea of opening a record store is good, but we met various problems and even doubts from friends in the process of setting up Duyin Records. Overcoming difficulties is a long process, but I think you need to accumulate and to insist on anything you do. After all, there are not many people doing this. It’s like playing a band. Many old musicians feel it hard to insist. If they do not keep on, the band is separated.
Actually, we mainly operate a rock record store, more of indie music. In the early period, I was more likely to listen to metal. But later I found more interesting bands and music. And I try to listen to them. Now, I mainly listen to indie, psychedelic, post rock, electronic, noise and do on. I named it Duyin Records because I hope to pass on indie music spirit and record store culture through my record store.
In each March, Duyin invites some famous indie bands to perform for the anniversary of the store. Though only held twice, we received good response. Later, I found it boring, so we didn’t have the performance at the fourth and fifth anniversary. We only cooperate with some indie musicians to release some albums. I hope there are more good ideas meeting together. It may not be shows. The profits of the show are nearly all given to the band. We do not make money on that. After all, we are not show organizers.
CMBN: Did you intend to establish a label when opened Duyin Records?
Guo Cheng: Yes, we’re not simply doing a record store. We wanted to start a label at the beginning. Chinese record culture started late and there are few record stores. When Duyin Records opened, we asked many friends from the media about whether they could make a special report on record culture. They all said that no one specially made such topic in China and they could not do it. Later, we contacted to other similar stores in Beijing and made a special colon together.
So I think record store should has its unique culture. Record store is a kind of window, and can have more music fans joining. Also, if some less known bands are willing to release albums, we could contact them and help them. Of course, after the internet entering music industry, there are better platforms doing this.
CMBN: What are the majority of customers in the record store?
Guo Cheng: I think those who really come to the shop to buy vinyl records are around 30 or above. Many are after 80s who have the consumption ability. Personally, students are not the major customers of vinyl records. Students are more likely to buy CDs. The transportation cost and human cost are around 200 to 300 yuan.
Prices in Duyin Records are transparent. We have an official store on Taobao. Records are priced, though there are more records in physical shop than in the online shop.
Guo Cheng: I think it should not be limited in indie bands. It should be a future trend. In other countries, there is a record store day. Some bands would release some limited edition vinyl records on that day. Of course, the records are very nice and welcomed. I hope that more musicians will release vinyl records in China.
It is a good thing to guide fans buying vinyl records. But I think you should first have a listening device. Though vinyl records have rebounded, I recommend you think twice before buying. You should buy records according to your likes and economic ability.
CMBN: What do you think of the future of Chinese vinyl records market?
Guo Cheng: In China, only a few people who truly love and collect vinyl records. Now, few people buy records, and people buying vinyl records are even fewer. In terms of the price, a vinyl record is at least 200 yuan. Plus, there is no domestic record company that specially produces vinyl records. Vinyl records are all produced overseas and then transported to China, so the price determines the consumption ability.
Vinyl records might be cheaper in other counties, for there are no transportation fees. If there are producers in China, the price will be cheaper and the consumption ability of vinyl record will be better. Now the price of CD is around one hundred yuan. If the price of vinyl record is around 150 yuan, I think people probably will buy vinyl records.
CMBN: What do you think is the difference between record store in Hong Kong & Macao and mainland?
Guo Cheng: In fact, there’s large difference. First of all, there are large numbers of record stores in Hong Kong and there are more people who buy records and truly understand music. Though, compared to the time before, the number of record stores decreases. But it’s still better than mainland China. Before 2005, there were thousands of record stores. But now, there are only dozens of them. Indie music and rock music stores are even fewer.
Besides, record stores in Hong Kong are bigger and there are more genres. But one drawback is that records of mainland bands are hardly seen in Hong Kong stores. But it’s different in mainland record stores where pop music is dominated by HK and Taiwan records. This is the problem of culture exporting and policy. In our store, the number of indie music records is even larger than HK.
CMBN: At present, which country has the most unique vinyl culture?
Guo Cheng: Actually, countries like U.S.A, UK, Germany and Japan all have good vinyl culture. Mainly because they are good at playing and could produce records by their own. Also, the whole world is helping them sell records. Chinese vinyl culture still needs time.
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