The Music Exchange – the end of an era

10 Feb 2016
by Joey Bell

As manager of the Music Exchange for the last three years, the last few days have been extremely difficult. As the closure of the shop is announced, I have never felt such conflicting emotions...

On one hand I am very sad to say goodbye to what has been one of the best experiences in my life, and on the other I leave with a feeling of enormous pride about everything that has been achieved there. 

The Music Exchange was more than just a record shop; it was a social enterprise giving often vulnerable people the chance to experience a workplace environment, to be part of a team, and to learn new skills.

I’m really going to miss working with such a passionate and dedicated team of people who gave up their free time to help build something truly unique.   

As I’ve said, the word “shop” doesn’t really do The Music Exchange justice, because we achieved so much more in our time than just selling a few records; we became a real part of the community, helping to make Nottingham an exciting place again and celebrating its fantastic music scene. 

The Music Exchange

The original shop in the West End Arcade

Above all, though, we really did help the people who came through our doors to volunteer – some of them at very low points in their lives. Through a shared love of music, we helped them to rediscover their confidence in the workplace and get back on their feet.

I have so many other great memories of my time at the Music Exchange; visiting Parliament for an awards ceremony where we were nominated as one of the 20 best small shops in the UK; Sir Paul Smith picking out records that we wanted to hear when we played in his Covent Garden store; standing at the back of a sold out Rescue Rooms show feeling proud at how many people had come to see a concert we had put together.

Then there were the times when we were featured in national newspapers; when the Aphex Twin blimp was tethered outside our shop for the day; and most of all the overwhelming support we received on Record Store day from the customers who queued all night for a chance to buy some limited edition vinyl.

We also made some great partnerships over the years and I am thankful to everyone we worked with, including Sir Paul Smith, Broadway Cinema, DHP, Nottingham Contemporary, Derby Quad and Left Lion. 

I’d also like to thank our customers who took pride in the shop and understood what made the shop so special, I’m really going to miss talking to people about records and sharing in the excitement of a new record. 

I’m also very proud of the impact we had on the local music scene – how we worked closely with local labels and artists to help promote their work in store and at the many concerts we promoted. 

I feel lucky that we had a chance to try something different; we started at a time when it wasn’t certain that vinyl had a future. We have seen vinyl grow over the time we have been open and it’s amazing that it has touched a whole new generation.

I’m really going to miss The Music Exchange and, I suspect, so will Nottingham.


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