Why Record Store Day is still important

Record Store Day 2018 (RSD) is upon us. The day when many eagerly wait outside independent record stores across the world hoping to get their hands on that Brian Eno and Kevin Shields collaborative 12 inch or the Soundgarden A – sides never before released on vinyl.

Some may see it as ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ a bit, with bands releasing incredibly limited edition vinyl releases that can often end up on eBay by those after a hefty profit, and posers using it for that perfect Instagram pic but to the most of us, its a day to celebrate the format and get some real goodies.

Essentially, RSD is one in 365 days to show some appreciation with other vinyl lovers and have a good time, not that you should wait until every April 23rd to do that.

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So how important is RSD? And why should we still celebrate it?

Record Store Day recently had its 11th birthday, conceived in 2007 as a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the 1400 independently owned record stores. It is now celebrated in every continent, well apart from Antartica – but we’ll forgive them.

As for the importance of Record Store Day, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s about keeping it alive. It nearly died. A decade ago, records were barely surviving with only a small number of enthusiasts. A miserable 205,000 were sold. Fast forward to 2018, and those sales have risen 20 times that number.

Some hardcore enthusiasts are disgusted by the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco now selling a small amount of classic records such as Fleetwood Mac and Prince, but thats popularity and progress for you.

The format continues to move in the right direction. The BPI says that in just the first half of 2017, sales saw a 30 percent rise in comparison to the first half of 2016. You can’t deny, it’s pretty damn impressive.

The event, the most important day of the year for many independent record stores, has been supported by retailers, record lovers and artists who often put out specials and one-offs to correspond with it.

These record lovers are not just the people who were there when the format was emerging and are re-kindling this love affair after casting it aside when CD’s became new and exciting, but it’s young people too, people like me born into the digital era, finding their love and maybe even slight obsession with the vinyl revival.

Nick Pygot, 46, owns independent record shop Vinylstore Jr in Canterbury.

“Record Store Day is incredibly important. It’s really useful for putting shops on the map and making customers simply aware of your existence.”

“There are a lot of people who don’t really know about independent places that shop online or at *sighs* HMV or anywhere else and hopefully they’ll come in, like what we do and become loyal regular customers.”

Growing up I was exposed to vinyl as early as I remember, you see – music was and still is a huge part of my dad’s life, having been in a band himself I don’t believe his love for it will ever disintegrate. Having record players and a jukebox at home constantly spinning became the normality of my home life and now I couldn’t live without it – and I’m totally cool with that.

Vinylstore Jr is one of my local record stores, even going in to interview Nick I was distracted by the sheer amount of quality stock he had in, the shop excites me constantly with the hidden gems and something I’ve not heard before but instantly love playing. I had to get my hands on the Sufjan Stevens RSD release limited to 10,000 copies that he had got in a couple of days after RSD.

 

Streaming addicts who may not have known what the fuss was all about a few years ago have been jumping in. Their christmas list including ‘that really famous Pink Floyd album’ on vinyl and a Crosley suitcase turntable for £70 from everyones local HMV.

Owain Davies a self confessed vinyl junkie told me why he thinks the annual event has a positive impact on independent stores.

“In many ways it’s excellent in getting a whole new demographic of people coming in and hopefully that encourages them to learn about the shop and come back”

“It’s a great way to celebrate record shops as well I think, and obviously an excellent opportunity to pick up these incredibly limited releases, I think it’s a fun day out and it encourages community as well.”

I remember my dad telling me stories of how people used to abide by Top of the Pops, save their pocket money and go to Woolworths to buy the 7inch singles featured on the show. It almost seemed like a ritual.

The sales of records dropped in 1991 until the revival in 2007, with billboard and charts dying due to downloads and streaming.

To some they may have thought that was the end of the vinyl era but then Record Store Day came along and completely re-kindled the practice of vinyl ownership and collecting.

Purchasing and owning vinyl from your local independent record shop on RSD has quickly become a special and intimate feeling, with the personal service you receive, to the special editions on offer. You can guarantee you’ll get your hands on that most wanted record of yours.

Stores are creating a buzz with music, drinks, live bands as well as being surrounded by like minded people. It gives people a chance to be and feel involved and important in the survival of their favourite stores. Something that the likes of Sainsburys and HMV could never offer an individual.

An effect of this is indie record stores flourishing and getting the attention they deserve in order to continue their survival.

I think vinyl and thus Record Store Day means this much to people because of the nostalgia, romance and intimacy of owning a record. I almost feel protective, and when someone says something negative I always feel the need to stand up for it, almost like as though it’s childlike. Or for me, dog like.

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