We are pleased to report that since this article was written that Birdland reopened it’s physical doors for music lovers who want to browse in a shop.  Plus of course, there is Birdland online.

Birdland Records opened in 1991 in Barrack Street, Sydney making it one of the longest established specialist music stores in Sydney and the only one of its kind in Australia.

Birdland have released a number of jazz albums over the years gaining 2 ARIA awards for Best Jazz Album – our first was for “Fire” by Mark Simmonds Freeboppers in 1995 and our second was for “Duologue” by Mike Nock and Dave Liebman in 2007.

“Fire” was recently voted best Australian jazz album of all time.

Other notable releases include “Kaboom” by James Muller, “Pendulum” by the Judy Bailey Trio, “Dream Wheel” by the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra and “Dig My Garden” by the Steve Hunter Band.

Birdland imports music from the US (every week) UK, Europe and Japan – Cds, Vinyl LPs, DVDs and SACDs. We stock Australian music from labels like Rufus, JazzHead, La Brava, Origin, Newmarket, MGM, ABC and Jazzgroove to name just a few.

Mail order has been a Birdland speciality since opening with every release being put on the web site with as much information about each as possible.

Visit www.birdland.com.au or you can browse in shop on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

Original article below was titled  Birdland Closes

Increased costs are forcing Birdland, one of Australia’s few remaining jazz specialty record shops, to close its doors after 18 years and move its operations off the street and entirely online.

No more will music lovers be able to browse the shelves, seek recommendations from knowledgeable staff and listen to in-store concerts.

The shop’s owner Kieran Stafford told Jazz Australia that despite the closure, there is life in Birdland yet.

Jazz Australia: You have said, I think, that you are closing down because the landlord has increased the rent to the point where the business is no longer viable. Is that right?

Kieran Stafford: Yes. The business is ok, fairly stable really (unlike everyone else) but to cover the proposed increase in rent we’d have to increase sales dramatically. Given the current economic environment  I don’t think it’s possible to do that. In fact, I know it’s not possible.

Currently I have to do around $300,000 in turnover just to pay the rent. It’s a big hurdle to jump already. And then I have to do a lot, lot more to cover wages, electricity, phone, etc, etc.

JA: Is this something that has been on the cards for a while?

KS: At least two weeks ! Since October last year, actually.

JA: Did you consider relocating elsewhere in the Sydney CBD?

KS: I’m still looking at that – perhaps somewhere in the city fringe

JA: So is the plan to move Birdland completely online?

KS: That’s Plan A.

JA: Obviously you’re pretty confident that you’ll get the necessary volume by being an exclusively online retailer?

KS: A considerable amount of our business is web / mail order already, so yes I think we can do it.

JA: Have customers suggested they will maintain their loyalty and not run to Amazon?

KS: Yes they have. Anyway, what we sell on the web / mail order tends to be stuff Amazon don’t have, such as Australian music and, of course, our own releases.

JA: Might you even be able to generate a better return on investment without the staff and rent overheads?

KS: Possibly. It will be a lot less stressful at least. We’d have less staff and very little overhead = no ulcers !

JA: You have mentioned the possibility of reopening at some stage but do you think that a specialty shop such as Birdland is just too hard to maintain in the digital age?

KS: Yes and No.  The digital age is another story – it’s not a factor in this decision. Sydney rents are ridiculous due to the supposed value of real estate here. [The record label] Winter and Winter in Munich pay annually what I pay monthly in rent. In a little town called Munich (metro population – 6 million).

Reopening – I think a venue / cafe / bar / retail rather than just retail would be the way to go. Got any money ? !

JA: Part of the pleasure of buying music has always been the browsing and chatting, the recommendations and the ambience of like minds. What have customers said about what they will miss?

KS: The response has been amazing and very, very  touching. It’s extremely humbling to know we’ve meant so much to so many.  A bastion of art in a sea of rubbish!

JA: How do you feel about closing up for possibly the last time?

KS: It’s been a very hard decision to make. Emotionally, it was probably the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. Deep down I’d like it to continue but going bust just to pay the rent is not an option.  Commercial leases are very onerous legal documents so you have to be sure it will work before you sign. I can’t see how it could. If you hit yourself with a hammer it hurts so why hit yourself ? It will always hurt !  Ouch. Oww.


Find out more
Go to Birdland online.

Photo: Cover art for James Muller’s album Kaboom (Birdland Records)