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Is Record Store Day In Crisis? A Quietus Investigation
Phil Hebblethwaite , April 17th, 2014 04:59

Record Store Day 2014 is the biggest yet, with hundreds of exclusive new releases and reissues in shops this weekend. But as vinyl pressing plants struggle to keep up with demand, is the event's success in danger of harming independent labels - and even RSD itself? Phil Hebblethwaite investigates

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Has Record Store Day become too big? That's been the criticism in the run-up to 2014's event, which takes place this Saturday, and immediately that sounds like a contradiction in terms. It is now a huge global event – for the labels that release exclusive material, for the bands that record that material and play in-store shows, and for the press, as well as the shops – and in the excitement and chaos of what actually happens on the day, it's easy to forget its original purpose.

There were 734 independent record shops across the UK in 2005; by the end of 2008 that number had dwindled to 305. Bringing Record Store Day to Britain in 2008 after it was conceived in the US a year before was designed to give those shops that remained a significant jump start and, in that respect, it's been a towering success. According to Spencer Hickman, UK co-ordinator of Record Store Day and former manager of Rough Trade East, it's now the biggest day of the year for independent record shops – more profitable, in fact, than the entire week before Christmas. You can't exactly measure whether Record Store Day has a tangible effect on the other 364 days of the year, but you could guess that it probably doesn't do any harm.

Or maybe it does. As it's grown, Record Store Day has increasingly become the subject of criticism. One of the first to lash out was Rob Sevier of The Numero Group, a Chicago-based archival label. Regarding Record Store Day in the US, he said in 2011: "Cashing-in is what the record business is. We're not upset with major labels for being major labels. What I'm not crazy about are the literally hundreds of pieces of shit being shoved into the marketplace on this day; products, for the most part, that no human needs to own, ever. The economy of Record Store Day is, 'What can we shit into the form of a record and shove into the hands of the wanton masses?'"

In the UK in 2011, there were 277 exclusive Record Store Day releases. This year there are 643, forcing a whole new set of issues. Whether anyone needs these releases is a moot point (and entirely at the discretion of the record buyer); the problem in the run up to 2014's event is that the scale of Record Store Day has started to cause considerable collateral damage across the across the entire independent music sector – particularly for smaller labels, regardless of whether they're involved in the day or not.

Suspicions that Record Store Day 2014 was causing havoc behind the scenes were confirmed when on March 14 distribution company Kudos published a blog detailing their frustrations. "Kudos' physical release schedule will be pretty quiet for the next few weeks," it began. "This isn't a seasonal issue… The cause of this new release drought might surprise you: Record Store Day." They went on to explain that pressing plants were prioritising releases specific to Record Store Day, often on major labels, leaving them "effectively locked out of the vinyl business". They mentioned that they have always been supporters of the day, the organisers and concept, but drastic changes need to be made in the future, because, they said, "It feels like it has been appropriated by major labels and larger indies to the extent that smaller labels who push vinyl sales for the other 364 days of the year are effectively penalised."

Two weeks later, Manchester-based independent label Modern Love cracked and blasted out a series of explosive tweets: "Fuck Record Store Day and all you self-righteous wankers who think it benefits anyone 'independent'," followed by, "Fuck you to all the pressing plants out there who have made major labels their priority," and "…looking forward to seeing that bubble burst in a couple of years."

Other labels quickly ploughed in. "Major labels have taken it over, that's why we never do RSD releases," tweeted back R&S. Tri Angle said: "Three of our upcoming releases had to be rescheduled after dates had already been set because of this. It's total bullshit."

These are very real concerns. Not having records in shops at an advertised date not only looks unprofessional, it messes with a label's cash-flow and press/radio campaign. Small labels that the Quietus have spoken to have confirmed the above problems (albeit without concrete proof that it's major labels specifically that have been causing log-jams at pressing plants, all of which, it's worth noting, are located outside the UK) and suggested the problems run deeper than simply not getting stock back on time. Even if they could get their releases to their distributor on schedule, there's no guarantee they'd actually be shelved in shops: there are space concerns as a potential 643 exclusive records land in stores in large numbers on a single day, but also stock doesn't end up in shops on a sale-or-return basis – it's bought in. Despite the boost of the day itself, record shops simply don't have the budget to purchase every regular release from labels a month before, or after, Record Store Day.

It gets worse. As the number of exclusive Record Store Day releases increases each year, some independent labels – in silence or vocally – have begun to boycott the day. They're worried that their records will be invisible in the avalanche of releases and they've lost faith in Record Store Day's ethos. They're pissed off, Hickman knows it, and he's concerned: "If you've got small labels who support record stores all year round saying, 'We don't like it,' that's a bad situation – very bad. Those are the guys that will go, 'Fuck you, we'll just sell our releases exclusively online.' Then stores are really in trouble."

Hickman not only runs Record Store Day in the UK, he also has his own label, Death Waltz Recording Company. As such, he's in a unique position to understand the concerns from both sides. "Without my Record Store Day head on – as me running a small label – it's a nightmare," he says. "I am fully aware of the issues and this year it has seemed a lot more difficult. It puts a huge strain on the industry and it probably puts that strain on the part of the industry that has the least amount of money."

Equally alarmingly, even Hickman is worried that the day has lost sense of its purpose and spiralled out of control. "I loved Record Store Day because it was about celebrating the culture that I grew up in and around," he says. "I know people have said this about the last couple of years but, for me, this year feels like the first time it's been entirely driven by capitalism. I say that on behalf of myself. It now feel like it's not celebrating the culture of the record store and why they're so good; it's about the releases."

Can anything be done? Yes, says Hickman, but start to think of changes and you quickly get into "really tricky, thorny territory". He points out that it's not just Record Store Day that's putting pressure on pressing plants: "The vinyl boom in general is impacting massively on factories, because new plants aren't springing up. No one makes the machinery anymore." Also, the process of submitting a release for Record Store Day is not lawless. Hickman runs Record Store Day with the Entertainment Retailers Association and there's a clear submission process. They work alongside labels, offer pointers and aim to keep the releases at 400 maximum. "But what do you do if you have 700 records submitted that fall within their guidelines?" asks Hickman. "You've got 700 releases. There's nothing you can do about that, except do the best you can for the day."

One solution would be for Record Store Day to regulate the releases more closely. Hickman: "Does Record Store Day have to say, 'Your release can't be part of the day?' How can you legislate on that? Should we have a committee to decide what gets released, and who would be on that committee? Also, independent record shops are by nature independent – they all sell different things. One store might sell 500 copies of a Bob Dylan record; another might not even order it or want it. It's impossible to make a rule for them all."

What about having two Record Store Days, one for indies and one for the majors, as some people have suggested online? "I don't think that would work," Hickman says. "So many small labels down the line are funded by majors. How do you separate them? Then the majors' day would get way more press than the indie day, and so on. You can't do it."

And, besides, regarding the majors' involvement in Record Store Day, Hickman takes a far more optimistic approach. "Among the first people to support Record Store Day were Warner Brothers and they have consistently produced some of the best and most interesting releases on the schedule – split coloured 7"s of Green Day and The Lemonheads covering The Misfits; things like that. Yes, some majors release rubbish, but others absolutely understand what it's about because they've got people working for them that still buy records. Their releases will get bought. Releases by majors who haven't thought it through will get left on the shelf, especially unnecessary reissues. That's where things can get watered down."

In Hickman's view, for the first time this year, "the good releases are overshadowed by the average ones", but that's only his opinion. "The stuff I listen to at home most people fucking hate," he says, "so who am I to tell people what to buy?" And therein lies what he considers to be the best solution for Record Store Day in the future: allow it to regulate itself. "I really think that because there are so many releases, next year changes will occur naturally," he says. "After Saturday, there's going to be a ton of stuff left unsold. Shops that I have spoken to can't cope with processing the amount of stock and sometimes they just don't know what to order. Even if they know their clientele super well, it's still confusing. It's a minefield this year and I really think it should self-regulate."

Each year, participating shops file a report after the day, giving the organisers feedback and suggesting changes. Distributors and labels should do that too, Hickman says, even if they're not involved in Record Store Day. "The first thing I heard about the open letter that Kudos wrote is when I saw it reported in the press, and I know the guys there. That's madness. I need that feedback because it's the only way we can figure out how to solve the problems. We have a post-Record Store Day meeting in L.A. every year in May. I have to compile a report for that meeting mentioning issues that we're having in the UK and I will ask what we can do about them. I really don't want to see anyone's business being hurt and I perfectly understand that indie labels are the rock of indie stores."

Hickman is under immense pressure and, aside from last year when Record Store Day worked with a sponsor, he hasn't been paid a penny for the enormous amount of work he puts into the day each year. That needs to change, although he's not asking for remuneration. A part of him thinks Record Store Day should "do a Glastonbury" and take a year off, reassess and get organised properly for 2016, but, he adds, "I'll get shot for suggesting for that." Why? "Because, despite everything, I know that thousands of people are going to have a great day on Saturday, and so will I. This year, there's good and bad, but you can't forget that music fans, bands and the industry still do very well out of Record Store Day. The amount of press we do is incredible and you can't underestimate that – BBC One news, Channel 4 news, newspapers, online… All of that stuff benefits the entire industry. However, I don't sit there with my head in my hands and think there aren't any problems; I know there are and my worry is that Record Store Day could explode in a mess. More than anyone, I really don't want that to happen."

Bob
Apr 17, 2014 9:34am

Nice piece which rings very true to those, like me, who go out if their way to avoid record stores on this day.

Full of once a year shoppers like Christmas in a city centre

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Scott
Apr 17, 2014 10:11am

Simply ban pressings of more than 1000 copies from being elegible, and ban dealer prices of more than £25, on any object

That would 1/ Mean things will actually sell out, and be desirable, 2/ No more stupid 'box sets' that are basically just an entire catalogue shoved into a box.

I'd also like there to be some way of there never, ever EVER being a RSD release by anyone in or related to The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Queen, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Michael Jackson etc, but can't think of a rule for that particularly...and probably the loathesome old record ghouls need something to flip or the whole thing will fall apart.

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Thomas
Apr 17, 2014 10:13am

I've spent the best years of my life working and shopping in various record stores, and support RSD. I think one solution would be to have the launch day with a "selection" of the releases on the day itself, then phase in the next batch in "waves" over the 3-4 months. That may ease the congestion at the pressing plants, and help stores with having exclusive stock for longer periods, especially over the summer, a traditional quiet period for retail.

As for the day itself, I know of friends who are not bothering with the event this year, not wanting to queue for long periods, and chancing it "online" a week later. If this was extended and the only way to get the product was in-store then it would increase visits to shops and less of the "ebay" buyers, who want to make a quick profit online.

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scott
Apr 17, 2014 10:24am

In reply to Thomas:

I don't think the Ebay grippers are the issue anymore.

The fact there's a 12'' pic disc Roger Taylor release 'ltd' to 5000, with a dealer price of £28 says it all. Fucking dispicable

This shit is actually really, really bad for the shops, because it's such a huge outlay to order in a selection of things that people are going to want.

There may be like, a day when people bid too high on this stuff on Ebay, but I know shops that have still got tonnes of RSD stuff from last year kicking about, at normal prices

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Al Storer
Apr 17, 2014 10:26am

RSD frustrates me on two levels:
1. I'll admit to really not "getting vinyl. This means I don't have anything to play vinyl on. But bands put out music, and some I really like will put out music that they don't release in any other form- at least, not for a while. Even the piracy routes are useless for getting this music, if the bands are small.
2. even if I did "do vinyl", for Cambridge- indeed, Cambridgeshire- RSD started too late. The stores are gone.
3. those queuing purely to sell on ebay for a profit. Scum. Leeching off music fans, adding nothing to the music industry.

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Stokesie
Apr 17, 2014 10:33am

Very interesting piece, which triggers a couple of thoughts. Firstly, it appears vinyl production for the UK is now under resourced based on growing demand - perhaps the industry as a whole (to make the most of economies of scale) should look at funding and addressing that as it would aid UK physical sales and alleviate one of the criticisms here?

Secondly, what actually is the point behind RSD? As it was started to highlight the independent shop sector it seemed above all it was a recruitment exercise for lapsed or new customers. If hundred people go into a shop for the first time and ten go back again at another point in the year (or better still become regular customers) then RSD has done its job. It's frustrating for regular customers/ labels releasing non-RSD records but it is only one day a year and they will benefit in the long terms as the sector becomes more sustainable. And as long as they don't mind a bit of queuing there's nothing stopping them joining in too. Agree that some sort of look at limiting the print runs and type of releases (e.g. box sets) is in order to make sure the event doesn't lose its bite and retains an identity, but isn't there a danger of preaching to the converted by limiting the artists and labels who can be involved?

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ad hominem
Apr 17, 2014 11:22am

there's a lot of RSD14 stuff on ebay already, some of it's been there for a few days now, which always baffles me....

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Scott
Apr 17, 2014 11:36am

In reply to Al Storer:

1/ Buy a record player.

2/ Assuming you're allowed to travel, Bishops Stortford has a record shop.

3/ So 2010. This year it's all about the undesirable shit pressed in huge numbers that will never sell. Do keep up.

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Ady
Apr 17, 2014 11:51am

How about not allowing 'excusives' that are scheduled to get a longer run a month later? Those albums where there is a numbered edition, maybe on coloured vinyl, and then a non numbered black edition later? They are usinjg RSD as publicity.

And the reissues are the bst thing about RSD for me. Beta Band for instance.

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Joe Horwitz
Apr 17, 2014 12:06pm

I was the music buyer for the just closed J&R Music in NYC. I was there for 30 yrs.Buying for RSD was a tension filled nightmare! Just figuring out the buy for non-returnables was daunting. and consider the logistics (and cost) of entering each title and the handling of the merchandise.A small store on a tight budget must really dread this. the early days were great. so much fun.Setting up near 700 titles to get ready for opening will not be fun. I was laid off just a year ago,before RSD and I was glad not to have to deal with it although I had done the buys and was tracking the receiving. RSD became "a victim of it' s own success".

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Tim Broun
Apr 17, 2014 12:16pm

One thing that everyone seems to forget (the labels especially) is that RSD is (or should be) about RECORD STORES. Of course the labels always think its about them. That said, I agree with many of the comments here - its become way too big with too many releases. RSD should be every day!

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Marcus
Apr 17, 2014 12:42pm

What Tim Broun said: "RSD should be every day!".
Nobody needs special occasions to buy flowers for the loved ones or get drunk and shooting fireworks. That should be every day! Fuck artificial holidays that are made to spend money without reason.

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Tim Starkey
Apr 17, 2014 12:43pm

I agree with Stokesie has record store day done its job have any shops closed since it started or the closures slowed down.
I'm very disappointed with the list this year as it does appear like labels are using it as a chance to push stuff that isn't really that brilliant.
I was thinking of trying to get the Spacemen 3 three singles boxset but then had to ask myself why would I think of paying just short of £50 for something that isn't even new.
Surely the point of record store day should be to celebrate the new and make new and make physical objects being bought in shops a vital part of the biz.
Tempting saps like me with rebranded bits of my past isn't going to keep the business going.

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Andy Tucker
Apr 17, 2014 12:51pm

I think Spencer has done a grand job on RSD, and it would be a shame if it became the victim of it's own success. One solution to the volume shortages would be for major labels, who have the money, to invest in additional pressing capacity. I don't think the vinyl revival is going away anytime soon, so it should make sense on a business level for them.
I don't think taking a year out is a good idea, there's a whole year to try and make some changes, and I don't think a major overhaul is in order, just some tweaks. e.g. I like the idea of having a maximum pressing quantity in order to qualify, I suspect some titles are 'limited' to however many can be shifted (though this isn't a new issue).
I think Spencer is correct in that RSD will self regulate to an extent, and titles which are left unsold after RSD should cause labels to think twice next year before churning out more of the same.
I run a record shop and this is my 5th RSD. I don't mind the wide range of titles available, and think I am able to make an informed choice on what is likely to sell, and what isn't, but am always happy to take a punt of unknown stuff that looks interesting, buying 2 copies of some unheard outfits splatter vinyl 7" isn't going to break the bank. However I do need to budget carefully, but at the end of the day RSD is a roaring success, it is my busiest day of the year, and I sell way more non-RSD product than RSD, and have had a lot of customers coming back throughout the year. And lets not forget, among all the crud, there are some awesome records available this year,
not least the Death Waltz soundtracks.

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Lincoln
Apr 17, 2014 12:53pm

I've pulled my stores out in Canada... http://www.ilikegoodmusic.com/record-store-day-2014

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Apr 17, 2014 2:07pm

If Record Store Day helps the small independent retailers, then fine, I'm all for it. However the times I have been it's almost impossible to get the thing you want, you end up wait in line for hours and most stuff released is solely for people who think some 12" limited pressing of The Flaming Lips farting in a bag is 'desirable'. I'll just support my local record shops by buying vinyl there on a regular basis throughout the rest of the year.

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ad hominem
Apr 17, 2014 2:07pm

In reply to Tim Starkey:

that spacemen 3 box set is currently on ebay for £150!

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Jon C
Apr 17, 2014 3:22pm

I'm actually kind of embarrassed that I have a quote up on the RSD site now. It was great while it lasted, but it's become more of a 'Limited Edition Collectible Day' now. When I went last year, I'd planned on heading over to Amoeba Records here in SF CA and spending a few hours digging through things. In truth I left ten minutes later, disgusted and angry, because not twenty minutes after opening, there was a ridiculously long line to the registers, every single person with their piles of Limited Edition Collectibles in their hand. The aisles of regular product? Dead, or clogged with people chatting and not shopping. I couldn't even get to the dollar bin area because of the line.

This is why I'm not going to RSD anymore...but I certainly am going to keep up my frequent visits to Amoeba and other record stores. THAT is what it's about. ;)

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Andy
Apr 17, 2014 3:50pm

Remember when bands would push out exclusive releases via the chain with no name? Every week could be RSD.

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Post-Punk Monk
Apr 17, 2014 3:54pm

It has been valuable to hear the tale of woe from the record store/indie label perspective! I have been unhappy with RSD for a year or two now as a customer and will be sitting out RSD this Saturday. They have made it very easy for me since there is only one or two releases that appeal to me! And what few goods do stimulate the collector's sickness most within me [white vinyl gatefold 'Metamatic'] are Not In My Country, and thus automatically put me in the extreme exploitation lane that the gray market offers.

As a person who likes to spend as much time as possible in record stores, the crushing pressure that it represents is repellent to me. I wonder how many first timers will bother going back, which is technically the sort of attitude that RSD was made to foster. The overnight queues are indicative of a sickness that I can't be bothered to partake in. The fragmentation of the music market down into small, sub-mass market issues already causes me enough tension when the artists that I try to keep up with issues 500 of this item, 1000 of that item, and have crowdfunding campaigns to support this release... and they all aim to press my button to buy in a very tight window of time. I have hoped this year, on artist forums that I am a member of, that some of my favorite groups would NOT be issuing RSD releases this year and I'm relieved to see that in most cases, this has come to pass!

My cash for music is limited, and I am currently being put in the position of having to pick and choose which short runs that I will buy in pre-release, which is often the only time I can afford the pressings in question. The price tends to balloon in the secondary market. It used to be that records were released in mass market numbers and in that time, I bought first what appealed to me most, and caught up with other releases at a later time. With the contraction of the market for physical purchase, I find myself under pressure to pick and choose what releases I can afford to buy and many artists I would like to stay up to date on just have to fall by the wayside. I can't do battle to obtain one of 300 releases from every artist I like to collect.

RSD only exacerbates this pressure whereby what used to be a mass market art form - rock music, has devolved into elite, niche products at prices that I can no longer afford. RSD heightens the notion of artificial scarcity that has seen certain, physical forms of rock music become priced for the elite market, of which I am not a member. And then there's the torrent of arbitrary and superfluous releases scrambling for floor space with indie issues that this article addressed. That's a whole different issue that makes this even more complex for the customers, and apparently, the dealers as well, as the labels have scrambled to be in the power position in any way possible.

I wish I had some answers, but for the present, I can only say that I will be ignoring RSD, and having said that, it represents a weight off of my shoulders.

http://postpunkmonk.wordpress.com
For further rumination on the Fresh New Sound of Yesterday®

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dannyno
Apr 17, 2014 3:55pm

And then there are issues like this:

Statement from The Fall, found at http://www.visi.com/fall/news/fallnews.html (dated 5 April 2014):

"A message from The Fall about the White Lightning Record Store Day 12"

We would like to let you know that The Fall are not participating in RSD 2014 as we think it is bad form to take part every year.

Unfortunately it has come to our attention that Secret Records have announced a release that we were not involved with in any way without asking us or even telling us about it — as they did with "13 Killers" last year, which we only found out about after it was on sale. They have never contacted us about these releases.

We don't know anything about the "White Lightning" record. When asked they did not reveal the track list to us. Have to assume that these are previously released tracks from various records.

Most artists would prefer to bring out new songs or new versions of songs for RSD and let record shops know the track list in advance so they can decide what to order!

It is also listed on amazon.

Sadly, this is not in the spirit of RSD.

What they are doing is illegal and is fraud."

So that's a different angle on the problems that can be caused.

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frankosonic
Apr 17, 2014 4:14pm

Got to question the submission process. This year's Fall record is a terrible compilation of stuff that the label already released under a different name. No Fall fans but the obsessive completist will buy it. It's the antithesis of exclusive. This year and last year Ozit have essentially released Beefheart bootlegs of dubious origin and qaulity..yet RSD gives them a false stamp of officialdom.

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repetitive store disorder
Apr 18, 2014 1:17am

In reply to Al Storer:

Cambridge RSD is a weird one. Yes, sadly, the traditional independents like Parrot and Jay's closed 10 years back. But we actually do have a (classical) shop which is officially allowed to participate and has done since last year. For 3 months last year, we had a branch of Head, which was listed for RSD13. But, the way I heard it, they couldn't agree a workable rent deal to stay in their city centre location. It closed before RSD13 and the shop unit they were in has been empty for the 14 months since then, which tells you most of what you need to know about why Cambridge tops lists of places being dominated by chainstores.

I support the continued existence of the small classical shop, surviving in a likely very high-rent street. But as a manifestation of RSD I'd say it almost exemplifies how RSD has the wrong focus. A small stand of releases is in there amongst the almost completely unrelated music which they sell the rest of the year. I would guess most attendees do not set foot in that shop any other day of the year as it's a case of 'if you liked those releases, there's no point coming back here because that's not what we stock').

For what I actually want from a Record Shop and want to celebrate, Cambridge has the once-independent Fopp. This is a place which allows local gig posters to be freely displayed, where you might well meet other music obsessives on a weekend afternoon, and where assistants have struck up conversation about Oneohtrix Point Never or Queer cinema, to cite two examples.
It's not perfect and it's obviously not independent, but we always fight for it when its parent company is in trouble.

Although I also support the existence of shops in places halfway to London from here (30 miles) like Bishop's Stortford and Letchworth, I don't feel like visiting these shops once a year chasing collector bait is more relevant than supporting specialist shops in London like Phonica and Honest Jon's which actually are my regular 'physical' shops. If I can't support somewhere that's even in the same county, my allegiances go with shops I like as places and which support and select my music, which is what it should be about.

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Richard Kolnsberg
Apr 18, 2014 2:40am

The true measure of RSD will be how many releases will still be in the bins in 3 months, then 6 months, then this time next year. The more dross you release the more gets left behind...

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Ray Gmeiner
Apr 18, 2014 4:57am

Are you kidding me ? Celebrate !

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Josh
Apr 18, 2014 1:59pm

My band, Old Corpse Road, were releasing a split 7" record this month but the pressing did indeed get delayed because of RSD. I was kind of really excited because this was the thing I'd played on and produced that was being released on vinyl, but it's a shame we're having to wait for it and maybe let our fans down slightly (albeit temporarily). I remember saying to the guy from the label it was ironic that a day like this is screwing with the release schedule of two independent bands. Personally I think they should just ban re-releases. Simple, if you want an RSD release, write some new material for it, or release something no one's heard. That way the majors can't make an easy cash cow out of it and the punters get something actually worth buying.

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Ally
Apr 18, 2014 3:34pm

Nice piece. Some shop owners in D.C. are asking the same question, as I found out last month.

http://bandwidth.wamu.org/can-small-record-shops-keep-up-with-record-store-day/

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Matt
Apr 18, 2014 4:24pm

Just looked at the RSD list and it's 95% a steaming pile of excrement. Any music actually worth picking up is usually available 365 days direct from the musicians themselves either physically or digitally via bandcamp etc, or via quality independent operations like Aquarius records or Volcanic Tongue, to name but two, who are actually passionate about music beyond economics and invest so much more promoting music week in, week out, than any lame RSD.

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Will Buckley
Apr 18, 2014 8:02pm

There appears to be a great deal of good input here as to the changes that need to be evaluated to make RSD a critical and financial success going forward. It is only natural that the major players would exploit the situation to their advantage; it happens everywhere.

With so few bright spots on the horizon for working musicians, it is unfortunate that this event which has so many positive underpinnings; sale of recorded music, sale of physical product, much needed visibility for record stores and the resurgence of vinyl, that we can't explore positive ways to address these problems, while maintaining support for RSD.

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Auteur55
Apr 19, 2014 1:52am

I'm going to a record store tomorrow to buy the new Afghan Whigs and the school of language album. Both on CD. So how about that.

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Anything Thats Rock n Roll
Apr 19, 2014 10:25am

Opened a record store 18mths ago (lifelong dream). Contacted relevant site to help me partake RSD last year, but to be honest little help. Seems to be mainly about Record Labels and Traders these days rather than Independent Record Stores. Doing a live Busking Gig at shop today for a local charity. Happy to join in more next year if someone can explain benefits.

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Anything Thats Rock n Roll
Apr 19, 2014 10:25am

Opened a record store 18mths ago (lifelong dream). Contacted relevant site to help me partake RSD last year, but to be honest little help. Seems to be mainly about Record Labels and Traders these days rather than Independent Record Stores. Doing a live Busking Gig at shop today for a local charity. Happy to join in more next year if someone can explain benefits.

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James
Apr 19, 2014 11:46am

Nice article
I was at Sister Ray at 6am this morning and a queue of dealers in front of me
Looking at E Bay my vinyl already up for anything to 90 quid
It's become a commercial 'flog quickly for profit' event for dealers who camp out all night and buy everything!
The special one off releases by people I like are fewer and fewer and re- releases of old LP's on 180g vinyl or coloured vinyl for 25 + quid are everywhere as are those dreaded box sets of stuff you have already.....
A sad old selection this year...
The Pet Shop Boys 12'' is marvellous BTW:)

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jim
Apr 19, 2014 4:46pm

Why not get a comment from RSD?

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Jamie C
Apr 19, 2014 5:24pm

Tricky one this as obviously record stores do clearly make a lot of money from RSD (quote about it being bigger than the whole week before xmas is clearly important), and if it's trying to help stores specifically then there's surely no better way than a cash injection. The fact that indie labels/artists/distributors have a difficult time as a result sounds like it needs to be addressed, so perhaps they should eliminate re-issues, as suggested here, to ease the pressure, and maybe find a way of creating new vinyl pressing plants. I've often wondered - is vinyl demand sufficient now that the supply of plants is insufficient?

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Apr 19, 2014 8:17pm

In reply to Jamie C:

The plants in the U.S. are especially jammed. It's a catch-22: You don't want to leave the stores stuck with too much (vinyl is non-returnable) but if you make too few then the allocations are small and fans don't get what they want.

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Apr 19, 2014 8:17pm

In reply to Jamie C:

The plants in the U.S. are especially jammed. It's a catch-22: You don't want to leave the stores stuck with too much (vinyl is non-returnable) but if you make too few then the allocations are small and fans don't get what they want.

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Lord Alfreston
Apr 19, 2014 10:04pm

I sat out RSD this year. Too much hype and too much crap. It and punters are being exploited by e-bay dealers. Instead I drove ten miles to a record shop where vinyl is stacked floor to ceiling the owner has no internet and had never heard of RSD when I mentioned it. I picked up a copy of Bowie's; Station to Station, The Bluetones; Expecting to Fly and Prince's Parade, all mint, for £21. Bargain.

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Howard
Apr 19, 2014 10:05pm

In reply to Scott:

'Loathsome old records ghouls' ? you mean the guys who started the whole independent record label post punk thing, actually. The modern scene is pale imitation of the past that is why you need this ridiculous day just to kick start the dying plastic heart of the fake copies of the past world of most music released today. Thank god we had Joy Division instead of a hundred fake and retarded copies of that band in varying shit coloured vinyls. Sorry but its true.

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Apr 19, 2014 11:06pm

This year is actually the first RSD I have ever attended because it was the first year there was a must have record for me and I hoped to find it at the original price rather than buy it on ebay for 3 to 4 times that. Good news is I got what I was looking for and got to hang out for a while with some like minded folks. Still I didn't really care for it and the focus was definitely not on the record store as much as the fight to nab the rare gem before the other guy gets it. Definitely seemed like most of the titles were older music rather than new.

Still with this said if I were a small band or indie label I would try and plan ahead to have my releases ready maybe a month or more before RSD and hold them until then. Any time you get a large number of people in one place it's easier to get your product out in mass for free to boost awareness or sell more copies all in one shot. Yeah it sucks to be the little guy getting pushed around by the ones with all the money and the point of RSD was not originally to line the pockets of the ones who already had the cash but the day can still be used to the advantage of indie bands and labels with a bit more planning.

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Steven
Apr 20, 2014 8:19am

I didn't bother this year. I've never really stopped going to record stores since I was a kid. I'd say I do the rounds at least once a month (Newcastle has a fair few).

I usually spend around a hundred quid on RSD and enjoy every minute of it (despite having to queue to get into my regular haunts because of these 'interlopers'). But last year it just didn't feel the same. The prices were creeping up and you could smell the commercialism creeping in. It all felt a bit dirty.

Yeah, I missed not going and I was on edge all day yesterday :)

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Joelle Bihari
Apr 21, 2014 1:55am

Oh please. If fucking 'Modern Love' put out a record even 13 people gave half-a-shit about... THAT would be news. Nobody ** needs ** any of this dogshit-- and this on site that pays attention to the most feckless shit imaginable like Slint, Afghan Whigs, Pixies... in 2014!!

If ** any ** record stores get a boost from RSD, then fine, fuck the rest & fuck the whiners. OPT out, if you don't like it, it still won't Modern Love not suck (& they're hardly alone in the "indie" glut muck.)

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Pookah McGillicuddy
Apr 21, 2014 1:57am

Here's a 'thought' for insipid 'indie' fucks: instead of starting another shitty band, label, cafe/'curated' shoppe (curate your meat first, cornball)...

Open up a PRESSING PLANT, a high quality one, and then all these wankers and sops would have one less thing to whinge about.

Aye!

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Balikpapan
Apr 21, 2014 9:19am

Wow it sounds like triangle records really need to try and get more organised and stop blaming rsd to me lol

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Thomas
Apr 21, 2014 9:30am

I went to the events taking place in Manchester. Piccadilly Records usually gets all the attention because of the huge queues of customers snaking round the block all day, and Saturday was no exception. In the Northern Quarter, there are a handful of independent record shops close to each other, each specialising in a different area (Dance Music, Soul, Alternative, Second-Hand vinyl only etc) and I saw many punters activly seeking albums in other shops not participating in RSD, generating a real buzz between them. It seemed that away from the queues and "sold out" exclusives, the day attracted record buyers to tour, browse and buy from all the independent shops. The long awaited "Five Man Army" reggae 12" seemed to be selling out early across the board, in contrast to those overpriced Ten Pole Tudor and Roger Taylor items.

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Ann
Apr 21, 2014 12:40pm

Given that RSD is an annual event there is no excuse for a label, major or indie to complain about capacity issues at plants. You know it's going to busy so plan properly ahead and stop fucking whining.

I work for an indie label currently having been at a major for a decade or so and it is my honest opinion that the indies are churning out more shit than the majors are here, although by no way are they devoid of blame.

600+ releases is too many and some of the pricing is terrible. It's ridiculous. Individual labels (not corporate groups) should be permitted a set maximum level of releases (For example perhaps one new exclusive, one reissue, one soundtrack, one high ticket item) and RSD should regulate the pricing.

ERA/RSD team you've created a wonderful event, it's time to grab the bull by the horns and regain control.

Labels and Distributors you've opened the flood gates to a pile of shit. Regulate your releases and apply some quality control.

Let's not let this go to the dogs.

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gvc
Apr 21, 2014 6:24pm

To concentrate it all on one day is very unsatisfying. The whole point of the day should really be about the kind of vinyl culture that exists in independent record shops, and getting more people in to see that. And as anyone knows a vital part of that culture is the hours you spend flipping through the racks browsing! This the RSD simply does not allow. Two days ago in Soho it was the grab and run mentality and everything was kept behind the counter. It was pure marketplace capitalism rather than a celebration of the independent shops that still exist! Of course the live music and buzz is great but something is lost here. When I later got to Flashback in Islington at 6PM, it was more like what RSD should be. Live gigs in the basement, better stock and less frenzy. I stayed there for an hour and a half, whereas earlier I was out of Sister Ray in 5 minutes!

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Ray Farrell
Apr 21, 2014 6:34pm

I've attended RSD for the last three years. My local store passes numbers out to customers as they line up to get in. The line began at 7:30am. The store limits each customer to 5 items but if the customer still wants more after the first purchase they get back in line for another number. The store had three of the four records I wanted. None are available digitally or on cd. While waiting to check out the guy in front of me heard that I was only buying three items so he asked me if he could have my remaining choices. I told him I didn't think it was allowed. He said that because he was such a good customer of the store, they would allow the transaction. Of course the store wouldn't allow it. I told him he could have my two remaining choices if he paid for my stuff. At first he said yes but his wife (in line in front of him with another five titles) told him he couldn't. I no longer have any use for RSD. But I'm tempted to go next year-I'll get lucky with another greedy sucker whose wife won't veto the transaction. One more thing- from 30 feet away I could see the Everly Brothers "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us" RSD cover was photographed from son old copy of the vinyl. Part of what I like about RSD is seeing $20-30 substandard repressings of records i bought for 5 bucks or less. And don't get me started on vinyl reissues that use the compact disc as the master!

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Jon
Apr 21, 2014 6:53pm

Is Record Store Day around to help record stores or independent labels? Surely, by economics, it only makes sense that Record Store Day, if it is aimed at support of the stores, would largely have releases by major labels. Major labels sell the most and most likely account for the bulk of sales at stores.

In any event, I find RSD a paradox...how do you go about celebrating and trying to assure survival of a business by catering to a niche 1 day a year? It seems the antithesis of what the store needs to do and, I don't think, makes any difference in attracting or keeping new customers, which is how a business survives. A store is not going to survive if it is doing poorly purely because of this one day.

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DJBabyBuster
Apr 22, 2014 4:59pm

While I agree stopping the unnecessary reissues, one point of clarification: I am very grateful for the albums being reissued, BUT for the first time on vinyl. Those are the welcome kind of reissues. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime on vinyl finally is a dream.

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Chris Carter
Apr 23, 2014 9:01pm

Interesting essay, but - like the day itself - it only covers part of the story and largely neglects the customer's side.

As a good friend of mine put it (with admittedly much less finesse): http://davismclellandletters.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/dear-record-store-day.html

RSD won't read this. But they should.

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shaun pryszlak
Apr 27, 2014 6:43pm

Not having a record player means RSD is the one day I stay away from my local indie. Where are the rare and ltd ed CDs, casettes, etc? It is really more for vinyl fetishists than people who want to keep their record shop alive.

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Ruud
May 2, 2014 1:19pm

Finally I decided, standing in the recordshop, not to buy this year's RSD releases. But I had to tame my greed. ;-) Prices are too high and too many reissues. Genuine new material (including mixes) will make sense. So I bought a good old secondhand record!
Some people said here "don't buy rsd releases for exorbitant prices on ebay". This seems a good advice.

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eroc
May 2, 2014 11:02pm

every day is record store day... except RSD. True story.

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Ben
May 13, 2014 12:18pm

The Dance Mania 12 was well worth it though. Glad that's all I bothered with apart from non RSD releases.. oh and a lil 'at the gates'/decapitaed slayer cover 7". Had to be done! Tis becoming a sham though, good vibes around some London stores and nice to see some nice street beering. My nearest store in Bushey has boxes of unsold stuff that they will take years to get rid of . £70 for a dead kennedy's 7" box set, get out!

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