Record Store Day is all very well — but don't forget the rest of the year

The sight of people buying multiple copies of the most sought-after releases and listing them on online marketplaces the very same day can be deeply dispiriting

Share

Record Store Day, the annual celebration of independent music shops, returns this Saturday. The event kicked off in the US in 2007 and has since gone international, with stores in the UK, Canada, Germany, France and more taking part.

Over 240 shops across the UK will be participating this year, with a stack of exclusive releases, live recordings and reissues from artists as varied as Nirvana, Frightened Rabbit, Eric B & Rakim, David Bowie and Skrillex hitting the shelves.

But beneath the buzz surrounding the live in-store events, coloured vinyl, exclusive 12”s and, yes, even the odd cassette, there’s a nagging perception that Record Store Day is becoming increasingly characterised by bandwagon-jumpers casually dipping into vinyl culture for a day. People who a fortnight ago didn’t know one end of a tonearm from the other will be flooding independent stores this weekend to grab a pile of records, spending the day tapping into the ‘hip’ cachet attached to vinyl, before returning to their Spotify or iTunes playlists for the remainder of the year.

Now, that's their prerogative — we live in a democracy and people can choose to consume music however the hell they like. It’s 2014, and vinyl and mp3 can happily co-exist.  But don't complain when the store you copped that LCD Soundsystem ‘Live At Madison Square Garden’ 5xLP boxset from on Saturday shuts down six months from now thanks to a chronic lack of custom. If the people who are so eager to stand in lengthy Record Store Day queues got as excited about buying music for the other 364 days in the year then perhaps our record shops might be in better shape financially.

For music fans, an afternoon’s crate digging was once an essential part of any trip overseas: cities like London, New York and Tokyo were renowned vinyl meccas for everything from hip-hop to punk, while on a trip to Havana a couple of years back I was blown away by the rich selection of Afro-Cuban jazz in the city's ramshackle record shops.

That said, vinyl sales reached a ten-year peak last year, shifting close to 800,000 - almost double 2012’s total - according to figures from the industry body BPI, with sales of the format particularly strong among the under-35s.

Mainstream acts like the Arctic Monkeys and Daft Punk have helped push the revival, offering listeners something more tangible than a digital file, while cutting edge artists like MF Doom have tapped into their obsessive fan bases, rolling out collectable releases in lavish, elaborate packaging with extensive liner notes.

But the longer-term downturn in sales over the past decade, coupled with the rise in downloads, has taken its toll, with legendary spots on both sides of the Atlantic (Bleecker Bob’s in New York; Mr Bongo’s in London, among countless others) shutting their doors. In that context, events like Record Store Day — which get people through the doors and boost trade — can only be a good thing, right? Sure. Yet the notion that people should be ‘reminded’ that records still exist — prepare for the avalanche of tweets on Saturday morning compelling people to ‘go buy a record and support your local music store‘ — leaves something of a sour taste in the mouth. For instance, the sight of people buying multiple copies of the most sought-after RSD releases and listing them on online marketplaces such as Discogs and eBay at inflated prices hours later can be deeply dispiriting. There shouldn’t just be one special day to celebrate those gorgeous circular slabs of black plastic.

So this Saturday, enjoy Record Store Day. Go to the live events. Visit your local indie store. More importantly, put your hand in your pocket and buy some physical releases. Just don't wait another year to do it again.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary