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…