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Music and vintage blend in the Sounds familiar store

In Rome the project designed by Studiotamat. In the age of music streaming, vinyl-mania explodes with the return of vinyl albums and turntables

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Sounds Familiar record label, the “Sounds Familiar Store” has just opened in Trastevere in Rome: a former parking garage has now become a store specialised in the sale of vinyl record albums. A new store for fans that joins ‘Welcome in the Jungle’ in Zona Prati, or the Inferno Store on Via Nomentana in Pigneto and in Monti, Radiations Records and others.

«I hope it might become a meeting ground for people who share a love for music with us, for people who want to learn more and have free time and time to get lost, listening to our musical selections» explains Ornella Cicchetti, founder of the brand.

«When Ornella Cicchetti contacted us for the project – added Matteo Soddu, co-founder of Studiotamat – we had lengthy discussions to try and understand the essence of what she had in mind. The store needed a touch of clubbing and the familiarity that distinguishes the brand: it had to be a space to exhibit merchandising and design objects, as well as an intimate and relaxed space in which to select vinyl records; it had to represent a friendly home to host old friends, a reference for music fans and professionals in the fields, and at the same time it was to be a pleasant stop for the merely curious. All in just 40 square meters!».

In Rome a “new centre of gravity dedicated to music” just opened, with an intense calendar of special events and collaborations that aim for a cross-fertilisation with other artistic forms

For over ten years, vinyl albums or records, 33 or 45 RPM, have enjoyed a revival, against every expectation, and in 2022, for the first time, sales have exceeded those of CDs in the United States thanks in particular to the American artist Taylor Swift, who boosted the vinyls market with her album Midnights, which relied on a specific marketing strategy: an explicit invitation to fans to collect the four different versions of the album, which when hung together on the wall, would shape a clockface.

Fans of vinyl albums are attracted by their sound, which often becomes imperfect due to scratches, dust or damage, but in fact offers musical nuances that music producers seek to reproduce in digital music as well. Furthermore, streaming does not allow for ritual: to listen to a vinyl album you have to pull it out of the sleeve, put in on the turntable and place the needle on it. The phenomenon is also affected by the return of the trend to collect quality or rare albums, or albums with covers that allow you to appreciate the detail of “Cover Art”, which have become true works of design. In England last years, vinyls sold more than Ps5 games, CD/DVDs or Blu-Rays, while in Italy the digital retains its power but the sales of physical supports have increased. As confirmed by the Italian Musical Industry Federation (FIMI) as early as 2019 the data on vinyl sales accounted for 31% of the market of physical supports and with the recent pandemic, despite the decline of physical products, vinyls led sales in the online shops. Following the boom in 2019, sales could stop in 2023, in fact according to the most recent data in the Luminate Year-End Music Report in 2022, the growth rate had plummeted to 4.2 per cent.

Despite the domestic and romantic nature of vinyls and the quality of the audio, the issues regarding environmental sustainability are significant, considering the fact that the product itself contains polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC), a material that can only partly be recycled, and which is very costly to produce; it also contains heavy metals and dioxin, dangerous for health, which are released during the recycling process, and one must obviously consider the carbon emissions for road transport and the use of cellophane. In this new age, and its awareness of sustainability, innovation must do its part. And some people are already at work. In the Netherlands, the Deepgrooves Vinyl Pressing Plant, based in a former prison building, was founded by Chris Roorda, a DJ and passionate collector of vinyls, and owner of the Deeptrax Records label. He has made vinyls ecological thanks to a particular formula based on stabilisers of calcium and zinc, produced with machinery powered by green energy, green gas and solar energy, using ecological and vegan inks and packaging, and sending larger shipments on recyclable cardboard pallets wrapped in biodegradable material made with 50% sugarcane.

On the cover: the Sounds familiar store designed by Studiotamat


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