This week’s prize draw for newsletter readers, for the Charles Mingus Original Album set, has had a big response.There can, (aw) there will be only one winner, drawn from the hat on Tuesday night. The five album set is inexpensive…
But in checking what the price should be, I discovered a murkier story….I knew CD retailing was tough, but I wasn’t aware quite how tough.
If, as I would earnestly recommend, you choose to buy it from a small retailer, such as my friends Ian and Judy of Crotchet.co.uk who run family business in Birmingham (here’s their Mingus album listing), or Rise Music in Cheltenham.. you will pay VAT on your purchase and it will probably cost you £13.99
But, as Voltaire wrote as long ago as 1770, “God is on the side of the big batallions.”
Amazon.co.uk ship from the Channel Islands, and avoid VAT on sales. As, I believe, do Tesco. For those interested in this uphill battle on behalf of onshore retailers vatloophole.co.uk has the detail. Amazon don’t just find the loopholes in Europe, they find them and fight their corner in the US in similar fashion (here’s the story). A specialist told me today that the California state legislature has been fighting this one for years.
Thanks for the support. Its good to see someone understand what small retailers have to deal with on a daily basis. For many years people have assumed small retailers are a rip off not knowing that they are forced to charge VAT whilst the big companies avoid it. We are hoping that HMRC finally take action on this issue helped perhaps by the fact that a senior figure at HMRC is a Jazz fan and has a brother who runs a Jazz Record Store. With luck he may have some insight into what small specialist retailers are facing…
It's not just the VAT loophole. The major retailers demand huge discounts from suppliers and they get them – typically 27-30%. Most distributors will not offer this to small retailers. At http://www.jazzcds.co.uk our product comes directly from the musicians. We provide a service to musicians by charging them a very small fee for every sale made on the site. The musicians send out their product and determine what price it is sold at. And there is no middle man (or woman). At just two quid per Cd sold it means we can keep our turnover below the VAT threshold at the moment. We'd love to sell 50,000 Cds a year, but that would be some kind of jazz miracle. Any jazz musician can sign up provided they have professionally produced Cds to sell. Provided you set your price competitively and keep adjusting it as the major retailers do, you will still be better off selling the Cds yourself than through Tescos, Amazon and the like. Unfortunately we can't provide a comprehensive service of every kind of jazz to customers as distributors will not supply to us at a competitive rate. But we have a lot of British jazz and a lot of stuff that the majors don't stock. We provide a very valuable outlet for musicians who are finding it increasingly difficult to get their Cds into retail shops. And one last thing – our service is worldwide and postage is FREE anywhere in the world unlike some other retailers I could name.