For the vinyl obsessive, camping outside one of the UK’s remaining independent record shops, today is the equivalent of Stella McCartney launching a limited edition high-street collection for fashion bargain-hunters.
Music fans will race to get their hands on exclusive releases by David Bowie, Arctic Monkeys, Kate Bush and Arcade Fire among others as the fifth annual Record Store Day celebrates an ongoing vinyl revival.
Despite the download revolution, sales of vinyl albums reached a six-year high last year, with 341,000 records bought, a 44% increase on 2010.
Now a global event, Record Store Day is designed to raise awareness of the UK’s independent retail outlets, still threatened by dwindling CD sales and ruthless price discounting by online rival Amazon.
More than 230 stores have signed up for the event, hosting parties, live performances and the lure of 400 one-off vinyl releases, many pressed in lurid colours, which are only available whilst stocks last today.
At Resident records, in Brighton’s North Laine, voted the UK’s best rock and alternative store in an Entertainment Retailers Association poll, staff yesterday unpacked the vinyl set to become collector’s items.
Natasha Youngs, Resident co-owner, said: “Last year we had 250 people queuing around the block before we opened. We expect a lot of camping overnight because there’s some highly collectable vinyl and only one or two copies of each release. We are limiting sales to one record per customer.”
Resident’s exclusives include a red/black swirl designed White Stripes 7”, selling for £7.99, a David Bowie Starman picture disc (£11.99) and a heavyweight purple vinyl new Arctic Monkeys single, R U Mine?, for £4.99.
The most valuable Record Store Day item is expected to be a Flaming Lips album, featuring two multi-colour vinyl discs, no two copies of which will look alike. It includes guest contributions from Yoko Ono, Nick Cave, Chris Martin, Bon Iver and Ke$ha.
However it’s not all rock fans who venerate vinyl. Ms Youngs said: “There’s a new Abba 12” single, a Volulez-Vous remix (£9.99), that’s attracted a lot of attention.”
Resident’s success is down to “old-fashioned values,” Ms Youngs said. “The bank said we were crazy to open a record shop. But we’ve showed it can work by looking after our customers and making Resident a friendly place to hang out, chat to the staff and discover new music.”
Many vinyl releases now include a code that allows the buyer to purchase a download too. But Ms Youngs said: “You just don’t get that personal interaction downloading of the internet. People want to feel a real product in their hands and demand for vinyl is sky high.”
A new weekly Record Store Chart was unveiled yesterday, compiled from vinyl and CD sales only, to showcase the releases which are driving physical sales. US rockers Alabama Shakes topped the chart with their debut album Boys & Girls, outselling Adele, with Trembling Bells and Graham Coxon also featuring.
Record Store Day has also embraced the classical world for the first time, with specialist stores offering exclusives including a new vinyl pressing of Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in a live performance of Felix Mendelssohn's “Scottish” symphony.
Veteran indie retailer Rough Trade made a statement about the potential for physical stores by announcing that it is to open a new branch in New York’s fashionable Williamsburg district. The flagship store, larger than its London space, will host regular live gigs.