Who doesn’t love meeting someone who is truly passionate about what they do, and even if they didn’t mean to be where they are, they were drawn to it like a magnet. With two degrees (Massage Therapy & Visual Communication Design) the music industry and the record store have always been her passion. A lot of women in this industry find their way here by chance, but when you read Annie’s interview, you just know this is where she was supposed to be. So without further ado meet Annie Skinner who owns and operates Indy CD & Vinyl in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Annie purchased the shop with her partner Andy Skinner 9 years ago and has worked there since 2000. She isn’t new to the industry, she has worked in it since she was 16 years old, beginning with flyering events, to becoming the Lifestyles Marketing Rep for Sony Music, then becoming an awarded DJ, concert promoter, and now record store owner. Annie and Andy have also had their own internet TV and radio show.
When she’s not at work Annie is hanging with her son and husband. She misses traveling (in non-Covid times) record shopping across northern Europe and Scandinavia. Her DJing is focused on a monthly residency she started with her husband called Spellbound Indy, a wildly popular dark alternative and goth open-format dance night. They’ve been DJing together for over 15 years playing all types of genres. They’ve had a few long-running parties and residencies but Spellbound is her favorite. Annie DJ’ing solo typically includes mostly electronic music.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Easy, I love music. My life is surrounded by it, constantly. Honestly, I couldn’t stay out of it. Even with two college degrees I haven’t left for another profession. It’s a part of who I am, I guess. I learned at an early age I really loved music. I would take deep dives learning everything I could about the people that made the music, the history behind the songs. I love learning about connections, diving deep to get really meta with finding out how these artists, songs, producers and players are all intertwined.
Now, I really love actually meeting the people behind the music, from the labels to distribution. I guess it’s always just what I’ve done – I didn’t have a moment where I wasn’t doing something with my industry, from casual listener all the way to shop owner and content creator.
What is a day in the life like?
Wake up and get our kiddo to school, and then head to the shop to make sure to get there before Tony our UPS driver arrives with all the shipments. On the way I try to grab some coffee at GoldLeaf and then start my day, whether that’s checking in the record shipments so they can hit the shelf, or seeing what my used vinyl crew has cool that’s cleaned, priced, and going out on the floor.
A majority of my own specific work time is ordering and processing new vinyl, we’ve seen a major boost in sales in this department the last few years, so it keeps me very busy every day until I leave and pick up my son from school. In the evenings if I am not spending time with my son and partner I try and see as many live shows as I can (pre-covid, so I’m looking forward to having that back in my daily life soon).
What has been your favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?
Every week I get a visit from one of my favorite regulars. His name is Gino and he’s amazing. Gino loves music. It’s who he is, it’s what he does. He collects records. Whatever he has in his hands is gold to him, so I’d say a visit with him is always my favorite sale. He once hilariously said, “You can’t roll a joint on an MP3.” That is Gino in a nutshell, he’s one of Indy CD & Vinyl’s biggest supporters and I appreciate him so much.
In your opinion what has been the coolest thing to come through your shop / the thing you had to keep / almost couldn’t put out for sale?
We are very lucky to be in Indianapolis, the music history is so rich here. We have some of the coolest finds come through our door. After buying two collections (over 10,000 records) from a couple of Jazz-heads I decided to take the afternoon to dig through it – to have fun. Within 20 minutes I unearthed one of the rarest Indiana Funk-Jazz records ever, Uncle Funkenstein’s ‘Together Again’ – it was even signed! I couldn’t believe it, I had never seen an original copy before. That was a tough one to sell, but it puts food on the table and hopefully made someone else’s day as well.
What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?
Oh goodness, so many. We always talk about how we’re missing an opportunity to do a sitcom from the shop. So many unique personalities and hilarious moments. I think having Mumford & Sons play in the store was one of the most surreal experiences. I mean, they’re huge and the store, well it isn’t so huge. People were holding their babies in the little window of my office to get a glimpse of them, it was wild! They ended up being the nicest group of people, they were so appreciative and grateful for the experience. We filled the store and they came in and knocked it out of the park. It was a very crazy opportunity for a little record store in Indianapolis, two months of planning and execution that could be a book or documentary on its own.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
I’m a “just do it” type of person. If you’re trying to “get in the music industry” remember there are so many roles and each experience you have helps you with the next.
Take some time saying “yes” to things that you’d normally say no to and take chances.
Keep in mind the industry at-large is over 70% non-musicians, and every label, artist group, booking agency, marketing team needs an accountant, or an IT pro, or an attorney, or any other profession you can think of, so if you have those skills or education you can still be “in the music industry” and work on projects you care about and meet people you love.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Absolutely yes, I’ve been collecting vinyl since I was a kid with my Fisher Price player and my Disney picture discs (that I still have). Any time I went somewhere new the record store was the first stop. Our home is reaching capacity for the literally insane amount of records we have collected, luckily we have the shop.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Definitely finding a work/life balance. I can get lost in my job because honestly it never really feels like work. I could spend 24/7 at the shop or working to constantly improve the store. Having a child really helped me realize I didn’t need to actually spend every minute focused on work, but by building a team I trust I didn’t need to spend my life in there, I can walk away and know everything is good and that I can take time for my family.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
On a positive note, I am soooooo happy to see young people flooding into the shops to buy vinyl (and tons of CDs too). They are so excited and have such diverse tastes in music. It feels invigorating to experience that freshness and youthful exuberance.
A couple of concerning trends include the lack of availability of titles, but looking at the root causes underneath that, more importantly, I am predicting a burnout of sorts due to the pressures and demands of the physical product side of the industry. While it is true our stock of new vinyl is bigger than it has ever been in our history, and we stock more titles than we ever have, the demand is still far outpacing the ability of pressing plants, labels, and distributors to get us product. I predict the demands on the human beings at every step in the process is going to create some burnout.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Be patient. Understanding limitations and that product might take a little bit to get re-pressed, distributed and shipped out to us (and it’s not our fault).
Tell me what you’re listening to:
There’s so much good music out right now, and so many incredible releases being reissued. I’m going to have to build a room onto my house for more records at this point. I’m always looking for electronic music but honestly my personal collection is much more than that.
Indy CD & Vinyl: @indycdandvinyl