Vinilos Por Mayor: Vinyl in Chile

Vinilos Por Mayor, is one of the record stores found in Santiago, Chile that exemplifies how vinyl in Chile represents not just nostalgia for past times but endurance and subsistence. Their eclectic collection ranging from Soda Stereo to Iron Maiden and so much more, shows the eclectic spirit of vinyl and the people in Chile. 

The section of records of Soda Stereo and Gustavo Cerati at VPM’s Avenida Italia location in Santiago, Chile. Photo by Antonio Villasenor-Baca.

While it is known that books were burned during the reign of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, it is forgotten that vinyl and musicians were also lost during that era. Records were burned and so a lot of classic vinyl in Chile was lost. 

Patricia Carrasco, who works for Vinilos Por Mayor in Santiago, talked about the vinyl industry in Chile, how VPM works to serve the eclectic tastes of their customers, and about some of her favorite records. She studied history and has a degree in social sciences but has been selling and working in vinyl for over four years now. 

Antonio Villasenor-Baca: Could you explain the vinyl industry in Santiago? 

Patricia Carrasco: The industry here in Chile is really small because vinyl has not been produced in Chile since 80’s. For the most part, the records in Chile are what people bring from other places and/or used records. We generally work with large record companies, the transnational and the Chilean presses that exist are are very small and they all send their discs to be produced elsewhere because the industry is so small in respect to other countries, for example the European countries that have their manufacturers there. That makes the prices here much higher. 

Tote bags that read “Save the culture, play vinyl,” sold at VPM. Photo by Antonio Villasenor-Baca.

There aren’t many presses here in Chile, because they have to send to produce outside and that makes the prices be much more expensive. That means it’s less bands that risk it and that have money to be able to create their records. So it is very limited the records one can find in Chile. But we always have our stock of national records, but none of it has been produced here in the country. The majority come from the United States, the Czech Republic, Europe, it depends on the contact every press has.

AVB: I know every store has to adjust the music it buys. Which type of music is the favorite in Santiago? 

PC: Generally, what sells best here is classic rock. Bands like Pink Floyd, Soda Stereo, and Iron Maiden is what sells the most. In fact, we have a section for each one of those bands because they sell so much. Records like Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall are records we always order, we order about 100 copies and they’ll last us about two months or less. But in general our people’s taste is very eclectic. We try to have the best diversity possible in styles because as a record store we have to sell other things but we have a lot of rockers, rock and classic rock. The last year we experimented with more modern artists, electronic, hip-hop, etc. 

Stickers that are on display at VPM above some records. Photo by Antonio Villasenor-Baca. 

However, 80’s, David Bowie, New Age, etc. continues to have a lot of movement, they sell themselves. People buy of everything, there are oddities, for example there is a selection of records of a thousand Chilean pesos, records that hardly sell and people like them a lot. There are people that take a record just because of its cover, that shows you how wide people’s tastes are. People buy of everything and they try to listen to everything. We renovated our stock completely and that way we meet the orthodox that we get of metal or for the person that looks for weird things. We accomplish this because we receive material at least twice a month. We are consistently moving, paying attention to novelties, studying new requests, whatever people are looking for. 

AVB: When did VPM open? 

PC: In 2014-2015, we worked out of a small office  partimos in the periphery of Santiago through an online store with a very limited catalog and people would ask for more and more and wanted to see the office. So people started going, we started making more money. Then we got to the moment where we opened the tore in the Italia neighborhood. The first day was a huge success. Now we have two stores, the one on Alameda near the Catholic University and the one in the Italia neighborhood, 

AVB: I’ve seen plenty of record stores in the city. Is the movement growing? 

PC: Since about five or six years ago, vinyl had a revival here in Chile. This was after vinyl became people’s trash in the 90’s. At fairs they would sell them for very little money because they had become devalued, because with digital everybody thought vinyl was garbage. So everybody was buying CD’s or downloading digital. This resurgence has a lot to do with technology, now there a lot of turntables and the travel turntables that are really pretty that they even sell at supermarkets, that are cheap and so people are being tempted. All of these things have made the market grow. I’ve noted that a large population, at least this is my idea on the subject, that most consumes vinyl are between the ages 30 and 40 because they have the most disposable income, especially men. 

A sign outside VPM’s Avenida Italia location in Santiago. Photo by Antonio Villasenor-Baca.

The thing about the rescue of music is very beautiful because vinyl saves the complete art, because its the all of the work not just a single downloaded song. The experience of opening a record, finding a book, a poster, the double LP’s, accessories. It’s not the same reading just the introduction as opposed to reading the whole book. And when you see a record is exactly the same, it’s to be able to appreciate the art completely. To understand that there are designers contributing to the music industry and that digital did a great harm to the music industry because it lost a large part of the experience that people great now values. Everybody that comes now has something to do with vinyl, either their parents had them or they have a sense of romanticism towards it. Just listening to them is a ritual and customers tell me, “it’s not the same putting on a record like sitting down to listen to digital. They’re very distinct rituals.” All of those aspects and that romanticism is what we profess here, that’s why it’s so beautiful selling records.  

AVB: And you have a collection?

PC: Yes, I have my collection, which is humble but I have it. 

AVB: Which are your favorite records? 

PC: THere’s a band called Dean Can Dance and they are very difficult to find and the Cocteau Twins. I actually have a good amount of these records that are very difficult to find. I also have classic rock, classic Colombian cumbia and Chilean music from the era of the dictatorship, because in that time a lot was burned, not just records but books as well. SO I romantically look for those records with history. 

By Antonio VIllasenor-Baca


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