Why We Still Need Record Store Day

Record Store Day seems to be a day of doing things you wouldn’t normally do.

You rise earlier than you would for work. (Motivation may have something to do with this…)

You happily stand in a queue outside a record shop although you get apoplectic with rage waiting for more than thirty seconds at the bank or the supermarket.

You may do the very un-British thing of chatting to people in the queue, perhaps because You know when you say you like Arcade Fire they won’t mistakenly think you’re an arsonist.

You make complicated arrangements with people about picking up albums for them while you would normally forget your own groceries.

You may sail through life not worrying about whether you’ll miss a train or a flight, but feel anxious about missing the latest limited edition release of a Neil Young concert from 1975.

There are plenty of things that people will tell you that’s wrong with Record Store Day.

Calling shops “stores” for one.

It clogs up record pressing plants, making the record selling business more seasonal.

The shops have to take risk on buying in stock in large quantities that they might get stuck with.

There’s a lot of stuff that seems pretty superfluous. Picture Discs that will never get played. Reissues that you can pick up second hand for a few quid. People will have varying emotions upon seeing a Doctor Who LP, from delight to complete indifference.

Deliberately making records more limited in quantity than they need to be feels counterproductive. It makes no sense for the shop it is supposed to help (let them sell more!) or for the music fans who want to buy the records. It also plays into the hands of that other great evil, the eBay flippers who turn up early and buy records they have no personal interest in so they can sell them at inflated prices to real fans.

It’s a tough one. There’s a difficult balance between making shopping on Record Store Day a mad scramble for under-supplied rarities and selling stuff that means that it doesn’t matter when people turn up and / or leaving shops with too much stock. You want to give people a reason to turn up on the day, and the fear of missing out on something is a big part of that.

In these tough economic times it doesn’t feel as though Record Store Day will ever have “served its purpose”. Local shops still benefit from what is a great blend of PR and actual cash.

Sure, we should look to tweak it each year. Keep reducing the bland reissues, allow music fans to buy the music they want in the quantities they want, stop handing eBay flippers a risk-free no-brainer of a purchase.

But cut away all that fluff, all the things that are wrong with it, and you are left with a day where the local record shop (sorry, store) becomes the centre of the community. People perhaps go into record shops for the first time in their lives. Others make a fuss of the shop, tell them they are wanted and needed and, most importantly, give them money. And this is happening in London, Brighton,

Leigh On Sea

and as far away as Japan…

And that, alongside the general celebration of all things music, is why Record Store Day remains something to be celebrated, no matter how many eBay flippers want eighty quid for that limited Sigur Ros LP…



Categories: Music

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13 replies

  1. “Deliberately making records more limited in quantity than they need to be feels counterproductive. It makes no sense for the shop it is supposed to help.” – Agreed! I really wish record companies would take pre-orders and press the quantity needed plus some. It’s win-win for music fans and record stores. I don’t think Record Store Day is all good or all bad. There’s definitely some positives and negatives.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t gotten involved in any of the RSD shenanigans (for various reasons). I can see the benefits, but from what I understand from record shop folks it’s mostly about getting folk in the door for them, cause there’s no money to be made on any of those releases (the flippers make more).

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    • Hmmm. That may just be business people deliberately talking down things. I speak to my local store and they say it is worthwhile and it’s a good day for them financially. If you sell a hundred records on a normal day but sell a thousand on Record Store Day I can’t see why that would be a good day for a record-selling business.

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    • …albeit yes, their margins are narrower than flippers doubling the price of certain releases. The best way to solve this issue is for the record companies to more accurately predict demand for certain releases so they don’t produce Records in too-small quantities. No record shop likes to tell customers they don’t have something in stock. And if people can’t get something they want, it plays in to the hands of dodgy geezers on eBay.

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      • Yup. But I guess you can’t please everyone. One record shop I know of gets only a few exclusives, but it’s really just about making the day an event – deals and wee goodies for folks. Seems like a good way not to be lumbered with stock you can’t shift.

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  3. I listen to Vinyl to experience the Music….not to impress my friends with limited quantity releases.

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    • In which case I would guess you would prefer to see more releases that feature new music or previously unreleased material, and you would prefer to see fewer artificially small runs of “limited” pressings. I think there are many people who would agree with you on that.

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  4. just a load of shit for nerds..i spent 4000 on vinyl last year there’s no way i could support this vinyl flippn day out

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  5. It’s a tough one this, I’ve heard shops say that RSD can account for 25% of their yearly takings. I have once done the stupid o’clock queue wait and never again. last two years I’ve ambled in after lunch to check out what’s left and got everything that was on my want list. though this year I did grab the one re-release that I have the original off, a moment of weakness. I also would prefer to see less of the reissues but new music definitely. or items never on vinyl before would be nice to see. but I hate the prices, I paid £9 for a 7″ and £17 for a 12″ single this year, which hurts. It would be nice if the flipping didn’t happen, but I can’t see a way to control it sadly. when you see items online within the hour for 2 or 3 times the price on the day it’s very disappointing to see that these people are just there to rip people off. but, the flipside is if you cant get to a RSD store at least the items become available, then it’s your choice to buy. I’m conflicted over the whole RSD thing, but still pick a few releases up each year it seems.

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  6. I went to record store day here in Melbourne years ago. They had a guitarist in the corner but he was just in the way. People were packed in like sardines. I didn’t go with a plan… didn’t know what i wanted or if i wanted anything. It was 95% blokes. Looking over your shoulder breathing heavy. The owner was a twat who just moaned about how hard it is for him to make a living.
    Is record store day a good thing? Yes. Will i ever go again? Probably. It got me out of the house.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The guy who runs the record shop in Camden is very critical of the whole thing. Says it started out as a great idea, and now is turning into a bit of a money making scam for the organisers.

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