In Defence of Record Store Day
As the dust settles on your (still un-played) limited Record Store Day vinyl, The Gen calls for order amidst the histrionics.
Just some of the comments levelled at Record Store Day this year: It is hurting and has in fact betrayed small labels, it is “constipating” the world’s pressing plants and majors have “ruined” the event with heritage releases. There is even a (admittedly quite insightful and self deprecating) website called Record Store is Dying set up by independent labels Howling Owl and Sonic Cathedral.
Turning to Twitter, it seems that the day is now perceived as something akin to going out for a meal on valentines day, followed by an inevitable backlash when, shock horror, not everyone got what they wanted after queuing up for a bit and some of that limited vinyl showed up on ebay. Hashtag #worstrecordstoredayever
Frankly, anyone engaged in such chatter needs to take a moment to consider the bigger picture.
Yes, Record Store Day is a huge global event featuring 592 releases this year, and of course the majors have jumped on the purple and bronze limited vinyl bandwagon. 54% of releases are reissues and it's difficult to imagine that anyone’s life could be improved by a limited 12” release from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
So, it may be losing its edge to the kids, who are definitely selling their guitars and buying turntables. Almost every large-scale cultural event reaches this tipping point where backlash seems the only reasonable response from its original supporters. From Secret Cinema to Glastonbury’s stone circle, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be!
Despite this, The Gen has spoken to managers of independent stores for whom Record Store Day more or less bankrolls the entire year- it has a genuine sense of occasion and is basically bigger than Christmas for these stores. This enables them to continue to be vital hubs of independent retail, especially in a high street picture that is so strange that HMV has just reclaimed its crown as the top music retailer in the UK.
Crucially, on this day, people are in stores spending money on music, getting excited about the treasure hunt element, connecting with other people and having fun (provided there are still copies of that Red House Painters box set in Rough Trade that is).
In a climate where digital and its peppercorn streaming pay-outs to artists were on par with physical formats in 2014, isn’t this still a good thing? Perhaps the almighty gust of idiot wind surrounding Record Store Day needs to now subside.
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