The days of buying physically packaged music at a small, independent record store may seem long gone, but this Saturday, these humble businesses will be making a triumphant comeback.
The Sixth Annual Record Store Day event will be held on April 20 at independent record stores all over the world. The event is held to raise awareness and support for independent record stores in the digital age of music.
According to the RSD website, “Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread word about the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally.”
On Record Store Day exclusively, independent record stores are provided with a large assortment of limited edition vinyl and CD releases from hundreds of popular and more obscure music acts and record labels for that day specifically. Along with special releases, many record stores also hold a number of other festivities, including live performances, meet-and-greets, cook-outs, and more, according to the RSD website.
The first official Record Store Day took place on April 19, 2008, and featured only 10 special Record Store Day releases and was launched by 300 stores around the country. Since then, the event has grown significantly, with about 194 different releasesranging from reissues, compilations and singles specifically recorded for the day in both vinyl and CD formats, to be released exclusively on Record Store Day this year.
The list of releases include classic artists like Deep Purple, The Grateful Dead and David Bowie, as well as more recent artists like Phoenix, Coheed and Cambria and Grizzly Bear, among many more. To see the full list, visit recordstoreday.com.
In order for a store to participate in Record Store Day, the website states that the store must be, “…a stand-alone brick and mortar retailer whose main primary business focuses on a physical store location, whose product line consists of at least 50% music retail, whose company is not publicly traded and whose ownership is at least 70% located in the state of operation.” This means that big-box chains, like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, are excluded from the exclusive deals supplied to these local businesses.
Jacks Music Shoppe, an independent record store in Red Bank that has been in business for over 40 years, has been participating in Record Store Day since the very beginning and, according to store manager Tim Cronin, the event has only gotten bigger and bigger for the store each year.
“Our store opens at 9 AM. I showed up at eight last year and a line had already formed outside of the store,” said Cronin, adding that somewhere between 30-50 people were lined up outside of their store last year before they were even open, with some stores sporting even larger lines.
Cronin said that the event brings in a large amount of business that the store doesn’t regularly receive throughout the year on that one day alone. In addition to the stores “regulars,” the event also brings a number of new, typically one-time only customers that are interested mainly in exclusives from artists like Phish, Bruce Springsteen and The White Stripes.
Andrew Ciraulo, 21, a senior at Monmouth University, is a frequent supporter of independent record stores like Jacks, and attended Record Store Day for the first time in 2011. Reflecting on the experience, Andrew said, “I’m not a religious person at all, but it was basically the closest thing to formal worship of anything I’d had in a very long time.”
Doug Ciraulo, 19, from Morganville, N.J., said his first Record Store Day experience opened his eyes to all the music lovers in his area he never knew about. “Before then I had never realized just how many fellow vinyl junkies were in my area, how many people there were who cared enough to wait outside in the early morning for enticing music exclusives pressed on a long outdated format,” said Doug.
As exciting as it was, Doug mentions that the experience does come with its frustrations. While waiting on line, Doug adds that it’s easy to make temporary rivals, saying, “When you hear people talking about stuff that you also plan to get, it gets the blood flowing and you have to make yourself known.”
Of course, the worst sting, according to the Ciraulo’s, comes with missing out on an exclusive you wanted that sold out. “There’s the obvious let-down that ensues when a record that you really wanted sold out before you even got into the store. That really is a terrible feeling,” said Andrew.
To prevent this, Cronin makes a few suggestions to customers to prevent disappointment, like arriving at the store early and knowing exactly what you want before you get there.
The popularity of Record Store Day no doubt has to do with the resurging popularity of vinyl records, which is seen as something of a retro treasure for music lovers. According to an article by Spin, sales for the ancient medium are the highest they’ve been in 16 years.
Andrew said that aside from the aesthetic appeal of physical records, there is also a less obvious, practical purpose. When his hard drive was accidently wiped out last year, Andrew said he would have lost his entire music collection were it not for his collection of vinyls and CDs.
Ultimately, Record Store Day is meant to highlight the unique aspects of independent record stores as opposed to larger chains. Cronin said that while stores like Best Buy may carry CDs, the staff might not be as knowledgeable as the clerk of your local record store.
Andrew described record stores as “the last hold out for music culture,” stating that while buying or pirating music online is more of a black and white experience, you don’t get to interact with fellow music lovers or receive personal suggestions of new music like you can at a homegrown record store.
To find a local record store near you participating in Record Store Day, visit www.recordstoreday.com/venues for the full list.
IMAGE TAKEN from brevardcountyevents.com