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A Record Shopkeeper Writes: Why Record Store Day Must End
The Quietus , March 29th, 2016 10:11

As Record Store Day 2016 approaches, Phil Harding, the boss of Taunton's Blackcat Records, argues that the event has lost its way - and is even harming the independent operations it was set up to help

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Record Store Day has its purpose in the title: a day for Record Stores. Well, OK, so we don't really have Record Stores here in the UK anymore, but you get the picture. The independent record shop has had a well-documented decline, fitting into the context of the overall decline in retail. But it's the culture, ethos and - let's be honest – madness of these places has been missed a little more than some of the other retail establishments. There is no Antique Shop Day or Used Electrical Items Shop day (yet).

The original question in the face of Record Store Extinction was: what should we do, and why should we do it?

The answer was, "Well, how about we lay on a massive promotional exercise to get people to visit their local record shop on one day of the year. It will be a reminder of what they have missed and what they should get back into again. How about we persuade some nice labels and distributors to push out some groovy and cool records for this day to bring people into the shops?” (This is indeed a groovy idea and record shop owners' thanks to the labels and distributors for doing this in the first place will always be there).

When we rolled this day out some seven years ago it was – and let's be clear on this – bloody great. The promotional shit worked, and people came poking about my little shop. But we have drifted from this atmosphere of discovery.

Now, RSD is the day for record shops. As in the. Only. One. And what we have now is 'Vinyl Day'. About one in three of the people who ask me about RSD calls it Vinyl Day (this is not a day for buying flooring).

Traditionally, the big three (Universal, Warner, and Sony) have not exactly championed independent music shops. Rather they have ensured the hegemony of Amazon and helped in a considerable way to hasten the end of the music chain, leaving us with just HMV and the odd Fopp. Yet for a few years now they have really taken to heart the idea that the best way of supporting shops is with exclusive releases on RSD.

It's for good reason that many want to support us still, we promote and entice, push and cajole an ever reluctant public into buying something new, so we'd like the major labels and distros to respect that. Labels spend tons of money working on big data to produce playlists that may make one song a hit, we have twenty or thirty years' worth of experience catering to individual music tastes, one by one, day by day.

But the support that has grown from RSD has got to the point where it is killing us (like a fatal industry bear hug). This year there are 550 releases for RSD, in amongst that list is gifts such as Justin Bieber singles and reissuing the very hard to find (and few would say stunning) albums by Status Quo, all attracting the 13 year old Bieber fans (who have no cash) and Taunton's sole 50 year old Quo fan (who comes in here anyway).

I am not sure which shops these releases are targeting, nor in fact am I sure what the ethos behind RSD is anymore. Most record shops left in the UK are small affairs where turnover is less than £200k. They reside in ancillary retail locations in provincial towns and a significant portion don't even sell new artists or new music. These guys will not be able to sustain the interest of a Justin Bieber fan. So again I wonder which shops are these releases targeting?

The whole operation is so far removed from the manner in which record shops operate, survive and thrive that it is damaging our reputation. Queues of collectors standing outside stores at some god awful time in the morning so that they can be stripped of cash for overpriced bilge is not exactly promoting the best of what a record shop has to offer (namely affordable and good stock which punters can get their hands on).

Regulars who keep places like mine going get no reward for their loyalty from RSD. The first come first serviced approach freezes them out. If a fan of Radiohead who has spent twenty quid in my shop every month for the past three years wants me to reserve their new special 7” flexidisc especially for them, frankly, I want to. But this puts me at odds with RSD.

The whole event has become a record label promotion opportunity and nothing else. Record shops are merely the vehicle for a quiet time of the year marketing binge. From my point of view, as a record shop owner, RSD is damaging to us in the following ways:

1) The lead up to the day sees a dramatic fall in sales, and the post event effect is similar. Ask around. Do shops' quarterly figures look any better whenever they take part in RSD? All the ones I know say no. New releases all but come to an end weeks before, and all promotional activities swing behind RSD.

2) The 'underground' or 'niche' nature of what indie shops provide is being watered down by dross releases with little artistic or cultural merit. It's not about being a snob, it is about making sure the customer gets value for money. There is enough amazing music out there to change people's lives without them being dragged into a bogwash of Abba and Status Quo re-issues (all of which sell on original black shit for £1 in my bargain bins).

3) Shops buy RSD stock on a cash-up-front basis, with no possibility of return. Who's taking the risk here? The labels, the distro, or the shops? The risk is not fairly distributed amongst the players. Do any of these guys know what happens to our cash flow around RSD? I've heard of shops having to borrow money to buy stock. I mean for gods sake, how on earth is this helping! The big boys are the worse for this, but for distros like PIAS who continue to operate a no returned stock operation for their entire product, year round, there is little risk on sale from their side. This promotes poor quality. Labels are less likely to sell bilge if they see it all back in the warehouse three months later. Distros and labels like Cargo, SRD, Proper and Discovery operate SOR (Sale Or Return), consignment sales all year round. THIS IS SUPPORT. Expensive and risky on their part, they are working with shops, and this in turn changes the dynamic and it changes the quality (namely in an upward fashion).

4) All this stuff comes out on one day, so in the six month lead up to RSD, the pressing plants are choked full of RSD releases (as investigated by The Quietus here), and as a result the indie labels can't get anything out in the interim. They're forcing me to say it... CD is the new vinyl.

5) For many of the huge number of Bowie or Springsteen fans et al ad infinitum. the only option is to go online and pay an insane price for the special release they want from some eBay flipper. Thus encouraging this behaviour further (buying online). Now, as an internet seller I am not against the internet per se, but NOT ON RECORD STORE DAY.

6) Disappointment… perpetual disappointment. Shops will not have multiple copies of every release. As a result a significant number of customers get disappointed and disillusioned. Great.... a promotional event for record shops that leaves customer feeling disappointed and disillusioned. Well that's just perfect.

RSD should be unremittingly positive for customers. Great deals for all, great music playing. This probably means stepping back from the labels and distros for a day and shops taking control of their event. ERA (the Entertainment Retailers Association, who part organise RSD) does not encourage this. It has its feet in too many camps and thus is unable to gain a proper understanding, nor does there seem to be a willingness to understand.

My idea for labels and artists and RSD? Use this as a day to foster better relations between shops and distros for the long term gain in sales, fans and a social music culture in UK towns. Give us old stock on Sale or Return or even better, on consignment, let us sell it for you on a day when people (everyone) will find a bargain, and understand what 'flicking through the racks' meant to people in the 80s.

Not complicated. Find the common ground for all.....

But as it is now, RSD needs to come to an end.

Mar 29, 2016 10:47am

This is heartbreaking: RSD's co-option by major labels and the resultant deluge of bafflingly shitty reissues has completely ruined what was once a great idea.

It's long been apparent that independent labels are getting resolutely fucked by RSD's distortion on manufacturing and sales, with zero concern or apology from RSD itself. What an appalling state of affairs to see small shops caught up in the same issues now as well.

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CDs rock
Mar 29, 2016 11:34am

Completely agree with this article. What a shitful state of affairs. The RSD "rarities" list has been declining each year and it's hit rock bottom this year - I'm the target market yet I'm interested in less than a handful of the many hundreds of releases listed on the RSD site.

Here's another suggestion: the limited nature of the super-popular or super-limited titles is bullshit, just creates a flipping frenzy on ebay. Some of my friends won't buy them on principle. Why don't labels instead press-to-order based on what quantity shops and their customers actually want, with those titles only ever available from the shops, one per customer. Then owners could do the right thing by their regulars and hold them for them, not having all sales focused on that one day but over time.

We have to get back to RSD's original principles: it should be a celebration of the culture and a means of keeping small traders solvent (shops and labels). Having the Big Three take over, all to sell their schlock back catalogue /shit new acts is an embarrassment. Who the fuck is choosing these titles anyway?!!! I have a lot of time for Glen Campbell and Neneh Cherry but NOBODY is clamouring for expensive reissues of 'Wichita Lineman' and 'Buffalo Stance' that can't find them on eBay or in the crates for a couple of bucks. As for Status Quo, Europe and FIVE Ed Sheeran EPs, I have no words

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Clark Gwent
Mar 29, 2016 11:37am

What if Record Store Day were to deal with members of the general public who made DIY records in decades past, and which now languish in attics in their dozens/hundreds/whatever? Would this not be more in the spirit of things?

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Rob S
Mar 29, 2016 12:26pm

The birth of RSD marked the end of my 25+ years of visiting record shops. Why would I go to a shop to stand in a queue to not be able to buy what I want to buy? I don't get it at all.

RSD pricing suggests the product should be beyond exclusive, but second-hand copies of the same releases are lurking in boxes in the same shops.

Sorry record shop owners (you served me well for a very long time), but the vast majority of my music spend goes through Bandcamp nowadays. A whole host of exclusive releases available to buy direct from the the band/label whenever I happen to drop in? High-quality download option with every purchase? What's not to like?

In complete agreement with other folks above that CDs are the way forward.

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Mar 29, 2016 12:35pm

In reply to Clark Gwent:

Yes, and this is the key point - where is the general public in this conversation?

In all of this, I never once hear about the customer and their needs.

This whole RSD effort has always been a scam, a collusion between record labels and stores to stiff the customer with overpriced gimmicks.

Where are the records cut from original analog tapes? Nowhere.

Where is the concern that the customer gets something really special and of good aesthetic value? Nowhere

The entire thrust of this article is solely based around the woes of the record store who collectively fail to understand that the reason they are in their death throes is precisely because thanks to the internet they are no longer able to rip off customers as they once could. There is no longer a reason for their existence.

For the customer, the demise of these places is a GOOD thing. As a consumer, you know have good choices with advent of ebay and discogs. This is where the future of vinyl is, not in dated business models devised by corrupt people.

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Post-Punk Monk
Mar 29, 2016 12:44pm

This is a frustrating read that raised numerous cogent points. As much as I have barely been involved with RSD personally, it's infuriating to hear how it has been co-opted by thugs. I thought the idea on the face of it was ludicrous because every day is Record Store Day in my world. Setting aside a special day for it seemed meaningless on the face of it. I only went for the first time on the third one, and I didn't like what I saw: people fighting like pirañas trying to get to the stock they wanted. As the writer stated, the net result was frustration and disappointment to varying degrees for everyone there. I've long railed against false scarcity being used to sell pop/rock music [formerly a populist medium] for inflated prices suited only for elites.

What a dismaying first experience this must be for people who don't usually spend time browsing in the stores, which can be a pleasurable thing. Then one had to contend the huge queues to check out that took a hour or more, which added insult to injury. By year four, there were things I actually wanted, which were scarce because it seemed like "classic rock," which had no appeal to me at all, was being pushed heavily by the labels. Worse, when there were releases I might actually want to buy, being in America, they were only available to me at usurious markup [on top of the already expensive prices of these records] on the aftermarket since they were not for sale in my territory! I came to bristle at the idea of Record Store Feeding Frenzy Day® and opted to sit the last few years out. I just ignore it now, but it's disturbing to hear how the people who the day was begun to help are now being exploited as badly as the music fans now that the majors have co-opted it.

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Esther's Nose Job
Mar 29, 2016 12:51pm

Nowadays, RSD is the only day of the year that I actively AVOID record shops... funny that. :(

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Mar 29, 2016 12:51pm

In reply to JoeDePlumber:

Discogs is great, yes, and many of the seller on there are actually record store, so maybe theyre not all thieves?

Plus, online retail has a big negative impact on local economies (loss of tax revenue, loss of jobs, empty shops on high streets) vs online retail (little tax, little employment, no investment into high streets or towns).

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Don Pablo
Mar 29, 2016 1:11pm

In reply to JoeDePlumber:

to answer Joe... the customer is the complete point of this conversation. As Phil points out the customer is left generally disappointed with something they could have no doubt bought as an original in near mint condition from the £1 box in a record shop or the £5 rack in Oxfam. Every single day of the year your average (and Blackcat is not your average) record store is full with fantastic obscure releases. I know because i have bought a whole chunk of them since forever and hopefully until forever. everything from obscure and rare detroit techno through to tripped out martian psychedelia. it's all there. RSD does not add to this and as Phil points out... RSD actually limits it. the customer is ripped off. simple. i think you might have missed the point with the whole rip off angle too. the internet is a part of almost all record stores businesses these days. things online can be cheaper (here's the spoiler) as the overheads are almost zero and ... however, pretty much all stock in a shop is... the same price as the online (jsut go to Discogs and see). it is how a store will often work out the price. what is lovely about buying in a store is that you pay zero postage and get to chat with someone who knows and cares about music and will likely turn you on to something new. win win. not rip off.
I love record stores and make it a mission to check out all of them in any place i visit.i love the way they provide the serendipity to my music musings that i can't get online.

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Martyn Hooper
Mar 29, 2016 1:20pm

Agree with every word - check out our website for similar

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Mar 29, 2016 1:46pm

But guys don't you want your 3xlp heavyweight black vinyl reissue of the Japanese release of the black album? It's different to the one from last year?

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Mar 29, 2016 2:43pm

In reply to Jack:

No, but I'll buy it in a multi-colour swirl.

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Mar 29, 2016 3:18pm

In reply to Don Pablo:

The aim of RSD as I understand it is to make the customer physically go into a store and not buy any of these items online. And my point is that since it’s cheaper to buy online, there’s no reason for anyone not to do so. This is what I mean that the customer doesn’t figure in this conversation - the record store, whether on RSD or the remaining 364, does not offer the customer anything anymore.

And then there’s the issue of choice. Even if your local store has a plethora of obscure releases, they will never have a comprehensive list and this is where discogs comes in; the customer can search for anything on discogs and find many sellers all over the world (and this is key) that will sell it. Are these bricks-and-mortar? I don’t know but it strikes me that it would be a better business model if such stores were to focus on online transactions instead

So since there are no “hard” benefits to physical stores, let’s look at the fluffy ones.

Is it really true that one of the benefits of physical stores is that you can chat to people knowledgeable about music? Perhaps you can, but you could do this in many other places as well (e.g. vintage clothes shops). Or go to a gig.

And as for the serendipity afforded by browsing a store, even a die-hard physical store acolyte has to admit that YouTube is far better for this.

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Mar 29, 2016 3:31pm

In reply to JoeDePlumber:

Record Store Day could probably be salvaged for a while longer simply by not announcing the releases in advance. Either that or scrap it and drip-feed 'Record Store' releases throughout the year.

Saying that, does anyone genuinely think record stores serve a purpose these days? I do find it strange, people mourning the demise of a middleman. I spent a fuck-ton of cash in music shops when I was younger, but I can now give money direct to the artists, I've got a bigger choice and I can get recommendations from like-minded folk online. I'm not sure what I should be missing, minus having somewhere to kill time for 30 minutes after work?

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Mar 29, 2016 3:32pm

In reply to AtTheBorderGuy:

Er... Not sure why that has appeared as a reply to someone else.

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Mar 29, 2016 4:45pm

In reply to JoeDePlumber:

I still love physical stores and always will over buying online, especially for used vinyl. In an actual store, you can see and hold the artifact in your hand, and decide if the quality/price work for you, often times cheaper than online. I use discogs and ebay as well when something is extremely hard to find and I probably won't see it in a store, but much prefer buying at a store. You don't have to worry about shipping costs, poor packaging resulting in damaged goods upon arrival, and the worst thing being people who think a used lp in shitty condition is Near Mint. That drives me nuts. That to me is the purpose of a record store. I do also like the fact that I'm supporting a local business and enjoy the social experience as well. My wife and I love digging through racks of vinyl all over the world, can't get that on discogs. If it's not your thing fair enough, but to say it's of no value or importance anymore is just not true for people like myself, even if we are the minority.

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Mick Travis
Mar 29, 2016 5:14pm

This feels to me like another negative perception of RSD and although it makes some fair points, here's where I think everyone seems to get their knickers in a twist...

No record shop is forced to participate. It doesn't make you any more or any less of a record store for participating or not participating - if you don't want to participate, then don't and explain to your customers why you don't want to do it this year - I'm sure they'll understand. I know shops who've never done it, or done it and found it's not for them. It's not been detrimental to their business and they don't complain about it every year.

No record shop is forced to buy any particular release to get something else - you're not forced to buy some shlock in order to receive David Bowie. Yes, there are a lot of releases, but no one is making a store stock all lines or some in order to receive others.

The "I support my record shop all year round" argument is fine, but so do many of the customers who go out on RSD and are regular customers at these shops. 7 years in they all know they may not get that limited Radiohead 7", but that doesn't stop them. Maybe that's not what it's all about to them - maybe it's the comradery of being with other music fans, of supporting their regular shop on that day, of maybe enjoying the free entertainment that many shops put on throughout the day (which again, no one has to watch if they don't want to)

You can complain about the major label big name releases which spoil the releases from smaller labels, but you wouldn't have the major turnover of the day with smaller acts on indie labels - they just don't have the presence. In theory the smaller releases can benefit from the sheer numbers that come as a result of the bigger name releases. Most shops seem to understand that. Again, no one is making the shops take the bigger name releases if they don't want to take them.

I'm sure he's just paraphrasing, but there are no Justin Bieber singles for RSD - there is a picture disc of the album. As a retailer, I'd have thought you'd be keen to appeal to as many people as possible and stop RSD feeling it's for a 50+ demographic. One Direction release last year was in demand from the pop kids, why not offer them something? If they're then aware of your shop, find it a cool place to hang out, come back some other time? With regard to Status Quo, it's a different mix of the album and on double vinyl for the first time - maybe that isn't the biggest selling point for you, but it could be of interest to their fans...and then it IS different to the old single lp copy you have for a £1.

As for clearing the release schedule around RSD, this year PJ Harvey is releasing her album the day before RSD which should be one of the biggest releases for the indies. From my experience, the immediate week or two after RSD remains very busy for participating stores despite the sometimes quieter release schedule.

For many stores it remains their busiest day of the year with many last year having their best EVER day of trading (with what was perceived as a list of releases of lesser quality)

But of course complaining about RSD gets more press inches than celebrating way, despite it not being perfect, it's still a great day for most stores.

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Mar 29, 2016 5:56pm

Well, it was a good idea. At least they tried.

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Mar 29, 2016 6:34pm

It seems as if the record labels are killing the industry AGAIN... Those morons never learn? Unfortunately it appears to me that they only way RSD will finish is when it kills all the remaining record stores...

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Mar 29, 2016 7:29pm

No surprises here. In the States, the worst day to go out for a drink is St. Patrick's Day. The worst day to take a date out to dinner? Valentines. Amateur hour crowds drive out the regulars.

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Mar 29, 2016 8:02pm

In reply to JoeDePlumber:

When will people stop this nonsense of record stores ripping people off. We sell at a price dictated by the price we buy at. I am a record store employee, I get records at cost and believe me it's not a mega deal, the profit margin is not great at all and we can't buy in bulk at the level required to sell at HMV prices. Hmv prices, not Amazon prices, coz if you want expensive vinyl, Amazon is the place to find it. Support your local independents of all kinds!

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Mar 29, 2016 9:20pm

As an occasional customer/visitor to BlackCat in Taunton (and other Record Stores in Devon/Somerset) have to say I agree with the article and most of the comments. This year's RSD list is mainly re-cycled and there's very little new stuff. Maybe RSD should stop being about product and just be about the stores. Most of them already try and make it about more than just product with live appearances, dj sets etc. Perhaps that is where the whole focus should go.

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The Mayflower Band
Mar 29, 2016 9:26pm

No non-musician regular people care or have ever cared about rsd save for the 18-25 jack white worshipping types...and god forbid being in a band and not taking part...trends within trends is the opposite of progress

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Mar 29, 2016 9:34pm

You know what? I'm sick to death of hearing people whinging about RSD. You don't want to go in? Fine. Stay out. I queued up last year and got everything I was looking for. I'm not sure I see the logic of someone who owns a record shop kicking off an article by saying 'we don't really have record stores here in the UK anymore', as I can think of at least 5 that I can get to within 30 minutes of my (Midlands) home. And as for stores that 'don't even sell new artists or new music' - well, let me tell you where you're going wrong there, bud. If you're so precious that one day of getting people into shops to buy records that you don't want puts you off going in them at all, fine. But don't whinge about the dearth of record shops if you can't support them on the other 364 days of the year. Seriously, I'm sick of people moaning about this. Get a grip.

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Mar 30, 2016 12:24am

In reply to Svejk:

Each to their own but you're wrong mate!! RSD and the domination of the big 3 labels means that independent labels who've been supporting the industry and fans through the lean years are getting squeezed out of the picture, with pressing delays of up to 6 months for titles people actually want. So a whinge about the state of affairs is more than valid.

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Mar 30, 2016 1:02am

Like everything there'll always be positives & negatives should you wish to look for them. Agree in some ways about the perceived negativity of the major labels releasing "special" product for one day when they could always release product anytime but, as many agree, it does bring customers to the record stores be they large or small. Maybe the idea of RSD only being for independent stores has diminished over the years but maybe that's because many of the original independent stores no longer exist and some bigger record stores take up the slack. It's good that the really big store chains seem to remain out of the loop. As for the product list there are many that I, for one, am keen to get but many that don't suit my taste. And yes I do hope to get the re-mixed Rockin' All Over The World because I've been a Quo fan since 1974. Many complain about the pricing and the difference between RSD releases and normal releases as well as on-line vs in-store shopping. Spare a thought for us down here in Australia. No major labels manufacture here and no RSD releases come from here so everything is subject to freight costs as well as our current exchange rate which is poor against the $US and UK pound or Euro, so everything here is dearer. I will line up at the local record store at some un-Godly hour of a Saturday morning, because I can't get to Sydney where there's more choice, just hoping that somehow they've scored a decent range at semi-decent prices, especially the Emmylou Harris 3LP and the Quo one, knowing that I may end up with alternate choices. In the end I, and others, will go to our local store, buy the RSD releases then shop for other stuff and go again later. RSD may not be what it originally was nor be everyone's fave day but better than nothing. Better get used to an early Saturday for a change.

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Mar 30, 2016 2:47am

In reply to Spacious:

Bingo - there's a reason those of us who actually go out at night call New Year's Eve "amateur night". I'm down with my local record shop but I'm not going to go there on the day when everyone's told they should be there.

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Nolan aka DJ NB
Mar 30, 2016 3:56am

RSD isn't about having people come in once a year to buy records, it's throwing a bone to those loyal record collectors and people who help keep the culture at a running pace. The labels should just stay in their lane and not mess with the record collectors and the record stores.

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Mar 30, 2016 6:43am

In reply to Svejk:

Yes, forgot to raise the "new music" issue. For most shops I know new muac continues to be the lifeblood of the shop with a necessary heritage backbone, but if it was just back catalogue then i don't think those shops would be here.

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John Doran
Mar 30, 2016 8:04am

All of the pro-RSD people are ignoring two things - it is unsustainable while majors are churning out massive amounts of shite with an extremely limited audience; Ghostbusters II OST picture discs and entire Billy Joel back catalogues on gatefold. This is a cash grab pure and simple and will burst the bubble so in a few years, meaning no one will benefit. And why should small labels put up and shut up? I know two really brilliant labels who have nearly gone bankrupt because of pressing plant backlogs of three or four months. Major labels muscle the smaller labels out of the way for something they have no long term interest in meaning smaller labels can't get records back in time for touring bands etc. And by the time the situation resolves - most people across the board will be fucked. The idea that labels should just 'stay in lane' when their already very difficult job is now being made next to impossible is risible.

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Sebastian Micoud
Mar 30, 2016 9:01am

In reply to AC:

He's not wrong, he is spot on. Ludicrous comments about there aren't any shops anymore, when independent, high street music retail is at its healthiest for about 5 years. A number of new shops, almost entirely down to vinyl, have opened in the last few years. It's the usual thing, let's pick up on a good news story and try and diminish it. RSD might not be perfect, but it certainly does support independent retail and gives them a fantastic day, and all the other stuff that goes with it. Nonsense about majors not supporting shops when they make this stuff and others specifically for shops, support them all year round with releases, in shop PA’s, point of sale etc. The rules concerning how the thing is delivered on the day and subsequently after, is not made by labels, but the organisers, so maybe the author should be pointing this part of his moan towards his fellow retailers and board members of the shops union, ERA. As for the releases, if the shops didn't want them, they wouldn't buy them, if the punters didn't want them, they wouldn't buy them, no one is forced to take anything, like no one is forced to take part as a retailer, although if you own a shop and don't, it is baffling that you wouldn't! Labels from across the sphere take part and similarly, so does retail, from small to big indie, and there are releases for all tastes. Surely if you trade all year round you know your regular customers, so just order to their expected requests, you don't have to take everything. You would have thought that in an area like Taunton where it is a long way to travel to a large town or city, that the local record shop would prosper and think about how they can encourage, more future customers to visit their business on a more regular basis, instead of just complaining about something that brings huge benefit to hundreds of his fellow record shop owners.

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Mar 30, 2016 9:47am

If I can't get my hexagonal 6½" Yugoslavian Bowie live reissue on edible, open-crotched flexi disc someone's getting a chibbun'...

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Mar 30, 2016 10:01am

In reply to Sebastian Micoud:

"No record shop is forced to participate" / "Independent labels should stay in their lane" / "The majors actually help independent record stores"

Sorry, but what total and utter garbage, and what a shame to read stuff like this on a site whose readers would, you'd hope, have some basic level of empathy with independent labels and stores.

RSD is supposed to benefit shops, but when increasing numbers of those very people raise specific, measured criticisms of the way things are being run, they're told they should either put up with all of RSD's many flaws in silence, or forego the exercise entirely. I keenly remember RSD responding to criticism from labels a few years ago not by listening or adjusting their approach, but by accusing their critics of a "publicity stunt" and blithely carrying on as before.

And frankly, if you view major label involvement with RSD, the vinyl "resurgence" and the rest of it as anything other than a deeply cynical and unsustainable cash grab, you're either naive or an idiot. Their approach to independent shops has been woeful for *years* whether in terms of the issues with sale-or-return outlined in the article, shifting album releases to Fridays against the wishes of small shops, or undercutting them when dealing with supermarkets and the like. They've clearly seen an opportunity to make some extra cash, but their commitment is utterly superficial and will evaporate the second trends change. To offer point-of-sale displays as some kind of riposte to all this would be laughable, if it wasn't so utterly fucking depressing.

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Don Pablo
Mar 30, 2016 10:35am

In reply to JoeDePlumber:

Hombre. i get your point and love discog and as a result of discog i feel that i can have almost any record i wish and therefore collecting has changed. the point of record store day is ... record stores. it is about going into the store buying your new fave thing and, in my case, taking the purchase to a nearby coffee store and looking at them and doing boring things like reading the run outs. yes you are likely right that in the long run all stores are redundant as the formual you have given applies to everyone. perhaps you need to set up a discogs day? anyway, we seem to have different approaches to how we enjoy and purchase music and there is no right in these matters. have fun :-)

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Graham Stewart
Mar 30, 2016 11:26am

In reply to Sebastian Micoud:

Where do I start? You really don't have a clue if you think all is rosy in RSD land and the major record labels are your friend. The majors and their parasitic, grasping attitude are the prime reason why the record industry is in the godawful state it's in. The small indie labels are and always have been the backbone of the music industry and they simply don't have the clout that the majors have when it comes to record pressing plant allocations. All RSD does is compound this problem and make it ten times worse. What's really needed are pressing plants that refuse to accept orders from the majors and concentrate on the indies. The analogy between major record labels and supermarkets is obvious. The supermarkets turned retail into a wasteland and the majors are doing the same to the music industry.

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Jan Knight
Mar 30, 2016 12:21pm

I'm agnostic about RSD but I would avoid your shop to avoid your attitude - that of 'educating' your customers, foisting things on them that you believe they should listen to regardless of their tastes, and barely concealing your contempt for anything in the mainstream. When I was a big buyer of records I *hated* shops with snobby staff and frankly the internet came as a blessed release from having to deal with that crap. I'll take my records without your judgement, thanks. (And I'd extend the same courtesy to you if you were to dip a toe into something I considered to be my area of expertise: I'd welcome you in rather than trying to mould you into my own right-thinking ways.)

Bad memories!

The few remaining music shops still have something of this about them - go in as an amateur and if the staff deign to acknowledge your presence at all, steel yourself for their contempt if you're not sure what you're talking about or don't have the right lingo. Long live the internet.

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Eric Rexford
Mar 30, 2016 7:18pm

Fuck that, RSD is like my favorite holiday.

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Sebastian Micoud
Mar 31, 2016 12:43pm

In reply to Ed:

What a 'delightful' but ignorant response. Quoting rubbish not said. There are more indies taking part and embracing the occasion than those that choose not to and complain with inaccuracies. What are your gripes about sale or return? So all items should be pressed, sent out on consignment and then returned if not sold? Most of these shops are astute buyers and readers of the needs of their customers, and the vast majority are quite capable of managing the whole thing. You also do realise that lots of small indie labels take part in RSD not just majors. So enough of the clichéd mantra and get your facts right before making such idiotic statements.

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Andrew Tucker
Mar 31, 2016 5:51pm

I run a record shop.
I've taken part in RSD for the last 8 years.
RSD is not perfect, but I really don't recognise, or agree with, a number of the points raised in this piece.
Every year there are crap releases, that I think are cynical and exploitative - so I don't stock them.
Every year there are fantastic releases, that I would queue up and buy for myself if I wasn't lucky enough to run a record shop...this year is no different.
RSD is the busiest day of the year for me - yet I'm happy if I can break even on the RSD stock itself, where I make some money is on the huge range of used vinyl that I'm lucky enough to have, and which customers are delighted to find and buy on the day. Records that they didn't even know they wanted before they pitched up on Record Store Day and had a browse- and that's why I run a record shop, and that's why I love going to record shops.
Most importantly RSD is great fun...I'll have a string of regular customers doing DJ sets through the day...they'll play some great records, they'll have a great time, so will I and luckily so will my customers.
The way RSD is run can always be tweaked and improved, but I suspect that I wouldn't have survived without it, and the resurgence in vinyl that has resulted from it, and I don't think I'm alone.

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Jonny Waite
Apr 1, 2016 12:25pm

It's entirely possible that the 13 year old Bieber fan will have the same curiosity as I did as an 11 year old Adam and the Ants fan, who when popping into Record & Tape Exchange on the Goldhawk Road a few years later to try find the "advent calendar" 7" sleeve for Ant Rap and heard "What Difference Does It Make?" that turned me on to The Smiths, Rough Trade and indie-dom in general that in turn still makes me seek out any record shop in any town or city I visit.

That 13 year old Bieber or Little Mix fan will try to buy the exclusive RSD release anywhere. Why not your store? They might find something else, as I did, that flicks their switch and leads to a lifelong love and patronage of independent record stores.

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Jonny Waite
Apr 1, 2016 12:27pm

And all this does somewhat scream "I liked them before they were famous"...

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Apr 1, 2016 2:05pm

Are you really unaware of the currently-trending fact that Record Stores in the UK are experience a welcome resurgence? As much as I would agree with you that RSD has served its purpose, is no longer exactly necessary, and even putting out records distastefully (Bieber etc.), the 'decline' that you talk about in the first paragraph is slightly lagging behind.

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Apr 5, 2016 8:14pm

In reply to Rob S:

Bandcamp sure is awesome.

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Apr 11, 2016 5:58pm

Good article apart from the tiresome sneering bollocks about Status Quo. What's all this about a "bogwash of reissues"? All I see is just one double vinyl of a long-awaited, totally-rebuilt-from-master-tapes redux, far far removed from the original album and appearing on vinyl for the first time. Perhaps RSD would be more rewarding for you if you dropped the superior attitude towards your customers and didn't display such wilful pig ignorance of the product range?

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Apr 15, 2016 1:16pm

I like Status Quo and Abba and would rather have an good old copy than "Piledriver" on splattered denim blue vinyl

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Apr 15, 2016 2:02pm

As someone who's been running a small independent record label for the last 15+ years RSD has killed it for me - greedy day when everything just ends up on e-bay / discogs & even the wholesale price is ridiculous, let alone the retail prices, please let it end soon

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Kevin Jones
Apr 15, 2016 3:47pm

In reply to JoeDePlumber:

Errr, apart from the point in the article in the article where it does mention the customer explicitly:

6) Disappointment… perpetual disappointment. Shops will not have multiple copies of every release. As a result a significant number of customers get disappointed and disillusioned. Great.... a promotional event for record shops that leaves customer feeling disappointed and disillusioned. Well that's just perfect.

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Apr 15, 2016 4:38pm

Singling out individual RSD releases is easy, fish-in-a-barrel stuff, but...Rough Trade are punting out a 7" of Jona Lewie's Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties for £9.99. If I was a kid who only knew it from an advert, I can't imagine I'd have very fond memories of the shop that sold me that once the penny dropped.

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Apr 15, 2016 4:42pm

Wholheartedly agree. Having worked in varying record stores all my working life, I am sad to say the scene has collapsed beyond repair. The quality of new artists is nowhere near what it used to be, nor is there a great deal of interest now from the general public. As time moves on, there are more and more forms of entertainment to take people away from music as a pastime, what a shame. As for Record Store Day, the best intentions may have been there from the start but basically, the queues outside the stores are 90% ebay dealers who take the releases from under the noses of people who might really want them for themselves, and then go home and list them straight away for ridiculous prices.
I saw the most ridiculous news item on TV yesterday. People who were raving about having the vinyl of an album (Bowie, Beatles etc.) but were sat there, reading the sleeve whilst listening to a download! They admit they don't even have a record player!!! HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD?????

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Apr 16, 2016 8:11pm

Sad but true. I collect records and I have gaps in otherwise complete collections where the RSD item is missing.

You can still buy the twelve year old XIU XIU album fabulous muscles in the limited edition with silkscreened cover for little money online. It's an Edition of 500. But today's LP in an edition of 1000 is gone and expensive online. How and why? As a customer and collector I feel cheated. Again and again.

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Apr 17, 2016 3:35am

While the independent record shop has indeed had a well-documented decline, it has also had a well-documented resurgence in the past few years. This resurgence has not been driven by RSD, but by millennials discovering their parents music collections. Record stores experience the same boom and bust business as every other business does during seasonal sales peaks and troughs, so why blame RSD? If the demand is there, market forces will make it feasible for new pressing plants to open to meet it. Simple supply and demand. And while I agree that some RSD titles are pointless (eg, Justin Bieber), why NOT have a record store day? There's a comic book day...

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Apr 17, 2016 1:14pm

Before we shoot the golden goose dead couldn't we aim at reforming it? It has lost its way but without this kind of event we will never get the masses back in shops. We won't solve the problem of too few pressing plants by relying on the hardcore vinyl junkies, we need these once a year folk, we need aunts mable buying a single, we need passing/part timer trade - the golden age of records was mass market not a niche haven of cool. RSD needs hefty reform but killing dead is cutting the nose of your face. I'd say there are a number of shops that would simply fold now if it stopped. Stop being so reactionary and start working for reform that brings the event closer to its goals and works with smaller labels more closely.

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Magik Feet
Apr 17, 2016 7:34pm

Spot on!

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Apr 21, 2016 12:27pm

Personally I enjoy the day and I'm a lifelong record shop visitor I go in record shops week in week out. The prices are getting ridiculous (maybe this is being done to discourage people buying to resell) and I noticed at the shop I go to the queue was maybe only half as long as last year. Saying that here in the UK it was absolutely freezing cold Friday night/Saturday morning so maybe the weather had a part to play too. I wanted 9 items and came away with all 9 so I was happy. If you don't like it don't attend.

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John G
Apr 30, 2016 1:04am

Hear hear. RSD has largely done it's job, regarding the original concept of the day. Vinyl shops are opening where for the last 10 years or so it was impossible to buy new vinyl. The problem now appears to me to be that the majors have realised that there is money to be made by selling vinyl to people who changed from vinyl to CDs in the 80's on the premiss that the quality was so much better (doh!), they would last for 100 years or more (anybody else got CDs which won't play properly anymore due to CD rot?), and are now replacing their CDs with vinyl again, having seen the error of their ways. Thank whichever deity you want, that the small indie labels (stand up Dom Martin et al) kept the flag flying. The only reason that the major labels have embraced RSD is that they see it as an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and foist over-priced, and largely unwanted crap on a gullible new audience, but the problem is that they have "queered the pitch" for the smaller labels by snaffling up all the production capacity of the pressing plants. It's time the nonsense was stopped and we just get back to 313 record store days - we'll let them shut on Sundays!

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May 1, 2016 10:12am

Is it any surprise that corpo shills and narcs, Metallica were the ambassadors of this year's RSD? They curated the releases, so we see Justin Beiber, the soundtrack to the major motion picture Joy, etc. I had the Goblin 7" in my hands and set it down because it was $22usd.

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