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Editorial: Why I Hate Record Store Day

In our constant struggle to bring you more than simply the same news everyone else is posting, we’re going to be posting more editorials. These editorials are the opinions of the author and not the site as a whole, but punk and it’s subgenres are supposed to be about ideas, and its high time we started sharing more of them. If you agree or disagree please let us know in the replies. A organizer has responded in the comments. You can also read her response here. Enjoy.

As we approach another rendition of Record Store Day, we must prepare ourselves for a number of inevitables. Frivolous 180 gram classic rock represses, Katy Perry remix singles and a scramble to put it all on ebay first thing in the morning. This April 21st is the five year anniversary of Record Store Day, a day I would normally spend probably sitting around playing my records regardless, but now that probability becomes a certainty. That’s not saying that there isn’t a handful of RSD releases that I’m interested in – I’m just going to do what I always do. I’m going to wait a couple weeks and pick them up on the cheap once the more ambitious record flippers realize that their local store’s jacked prices leave little room for the secondary market.

Now I’m not campaigning for you to not support your local record store; rather, the opposite. Support your local record store as much as you can. Go there every week and spend money on records. Record store day is every day. You shouldn’t need prompting from an organization with a financial agenda to keep independently owned record stores afloat, especially those that push major label releases like a Disturbed vinyl boxset (I wish I could make this up, this actually exists). It’s no mystery to anyone that major labels backed the big box music stores and the file sharing lawsuits when the music industry began to rot out in the late 1990’s, yet here they are preaching innocence in an attempt to claim support of the struggling independent record stores a whopping one day a year (although it looks as if RSD is expanding to cater to the Black Friday frenzy shoppers; the connection between mob mentality, consumerism and music sales is almost too easy at this point); pretty soon you’ll see iTunes having an MP3 sale in celebration of Record Store Day.

The concept of Record Store Day is good hearted, but the current practice is abysmal. In my case, the closest thing to a local store is a chain of used CD and DVD shops with, at most, an arms length of LPs. Come Record Store Day the small amount of LPs they do get in are priced at $29.99, with 7”s following in at no less than $9.99. That being said, I do have to commend them, as they don’t just price gouge on the third Saturday of April; they do it all year round.

So on April 21st, 2012, you should go to your local record store and see a live band play and have a great time. Then on April 28th, 2012, go back to that record store and buy more records. Don’t flip your lid because you didn’t get the limited edition Third Man Records LP or the new Lemuria 7”, but be happy because you’re lucky enough to have a local record store to support. While you’re there have a little chat with the owner, more often then not you’ll find that they have some rather particular insight to the inner workings of Record Store Day and, believe it or not, they actually have some good records in stock the other 364 days of the year.

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  1. My name is Carrie and I’m an organizer for Record Store Day. Thanks very much for your support of the stores, the encouragement of which is our one and only agenda. We have no financial one, as RSD has no stake in the releases that come out and everything we bring in from sponsors goes back out in the form of websites and Apps and other tools to promote the stores to the millions of people who aren’t as tuned into the local record store as you are. I am a volunteer, as is every other person who puts together Record Store Day. We all have regular more-than-full time jobs that directly impact independent retail every single day.

    Just a few things about the releases themselves: 1. These are, for better or worse, the ‘hook’ that calls attention to the Day, which calls attention to the stores, which is our goal. 2. It is a very diverse list and by no means limited to major label releases. Yes, there are reissues, and artists you don’t like, but that reflects record stores themselves–they don’t fit one mold and neither do their customers. There’s NO REASON someone who likes Katy Perry or Disturbed shouldn’t be able to purchase their music at a record store. 3. Yes, some of these pieces are expensive, and maybe some of them could be made less so. But a lot of these pieces require humans to do a lot of work researching, remastering, redesigning, and many more steps before they ever get to the vinyl process which again requires humans to use their talents, skills and time to create non-mass-produced pieces of musical art. Which many people appreciate and consider worth the cost.

    By all means, shop the stores year-round, sit home on 4/21 and enjoy the day with your records. But please don’t assume there is no need for Record Store Day to call attention to the stores (and we actually do this all year long, not just on RSD). Not everyone is as tuned into them as you are.

    Comment by Carrie Colliton — 26/03/2012 #

  2. Thank you for saving us all, Carrie and red. We would be lost without you and lord knows record stores would flop. Praise red for it has saved us all. 33rpamen

    Comment by marshall — 26/03/2012 #

  3. Guh, rsd. Stupid home.

    Comment by marshall — 26/03/2012 #

  4. Carrie,

    If non-indie stores arent allowed to participate in record store day, why are major labels? It sounds like your goals are great, but major labels have completely taken over everything about record store day. if it is meant to support indie stores, why is it a vehicle for the major labels that waged a war against the indie stores in the 90s but now seems need them?


    Comment by joe — 26/03/2012 #

  5. my solution to the shitty coldplay/disturbed releases is this:
    don’t like it? don’t buy it.

    flaming lips’ releases are major record label related but i’m still going to buy it.
    however, it is the tomahawk i’m willing to pay the big bucks for this year!!

    Comment by fernando x fuentes — 26/03/2012 #

  6. well said, Patrick.

    i’ve never understood the mentality behind RSD releases, especially those so limited that they can’t be in every store, despite backing from labels big enough that they’re totally able to press enough to get them there.

    it’s like a false scarcity and the jacked up prices don’t help the appearance of greed on the part of labels doing it.

    if we’re going to limit Record Store Day, i’d suggest limiting it to the days that end in “y”.

    Comment by veganboyjosh — 27/03/2012 #

  7. The first record store day was pretty great honestly. The exclusive releases were a nice bonus, but the general atmosphere of the stores I went to seemed to be more of a celebration of the record store, which seems to be the original intention.

    Its kind of a bummer how quickly it turned into this Black Friday-esque grab for expensive limited releases (not to mention the actual Black Friday RSD, ha)

    Comment by AlexPel — 27/03/2012 #

  8. “don’t like it don’t buy it” is not acceptable because this RSD stuff is what is going to lead to the eventual closing of a lot of these great stores when the bubble bursts that is being fueled by the RSD nonsense. Many of us who actually like our local record store, don’t just not want to buy the RSD stuff, but don’t want to see it in existence in the first place.

    Major labels already tried to completely destroy indie record stores just a little over a decade ago. Its unbelievable that they are now desperately trying to suck the last few dollars out of them with no consideration of what it means for the actual well being of the stores in the long run.

    Comment by joe — 27/03/2012 #

  9. I agree with AlexPel and Joe.

    Seeing stacks of unsold Nirvana, Beatles and Pink Floyd box sets from Black Friday RSD at my local shop makes me sad.

    $9.99 and up for a single 7″. Shame. I’m a huge Beatles fan and the $59.99 price tag on John Lennon “Imagine” collectors edition made no sense to me, nor did the $60 price tag on Beatles box set which had four 7″s in it.

    Comment by Dave McGurgan — 28/03/2012 #

  10. I agree with Patrick , RSD has become a rat race for ebay speculators, and record obsessives . The ‘ordinary’ music listener is not getting a look in . Carrie’s comment that making the vinyl limited is ‘the hook’ maybe correct , but all this is doing is freezing out those who want to just turn up at the store at a reasonable hour to purchase an item by their favourite artist , go home and listen to the damn thing ! . I used to have a really positive experience visiting the store , picking up some nice vinyl and getting a few free samplers and chatting with the owner. Last year I hit the store at 9am to be told 20 + items had sold out. I made the comment that they would probably be on ebay now (at 5 times the price). Owners response was ‘ Oh I dont think my regular customers would do such a thing ‘ . Yeah right. In the meantime his staff were frantically taking phone calls and packing up RSD items that were meant to be on the counter. No samples , no chat , rampant consumerism at its worst. So , in conclusion no hook here because I will not be participating in Record Store Day again. I will give it a few months and wait to pick up the items when the ebay prices have crashed .

    Comment by Sean — 21/04/2012 #

  11. The Record Store Day concept is a good idea, BUT as can be expected, there’s a lot of unfairness about it and it ends up being a frustration and a hassle. Case in point, Not all titles are available in a certain territory: Kate Bush 10″ picture disc of ‘Lake Tahoe’ was only released in the UK and Europe. The USA and Canada shops didn’t get it at all. Then you have the inevitable practice of people price gouging and selling them on Ebay for 20 times more than the store price. Free enterprise? Sure but kinda defeats the whole purpose. Also, some of us do not even have independent record stores anywhere near us. I’m 25 miles from the nearest one. They won’t sell them online and that’s really stupid. If they let people buy the titles online, we’d still be ‘supporting our local record store’ so why only make them a brick and mortar only item?? In the end it’s a very flawed idea, with mostly the greedy Ebay sellers on the secondary market having all the fun.

    Comment by Disc-custed — 21/04/2012 #

  12. I’ve been to every record store day at my local shop (which gets just about every release, btw)… and I think today was probably the last time I’ll go. It’s just become a mad feeding frenzy, and what used to be a lot of fun is now just really unenjoyable. What used to be a day to celebrate the spirit of music and these great shops has been replaced by a bunch of speculators elbowing their way through the aisles snatching up everything in sight.

    There’s usually one or two things I really do want. Last year it was the live Television album that I was lucky enough to get. I had 2 or 3 guys ask to buy it from me BEFORE I’D EVEN PAID FOR IT MYSELF. This year all I really wanted was the live Devo. By the time I fought my way to the LPs they were gone. The only 2 copies I saw were mixed in some guy’s stack of about 20 LPs and 30 7″s that I’m sure are now all over eBay. I won’t bother next year.

    Comment by Rusty — 21/04/2012 #

  13. My local record shop posted up the list of expected releases – of which one of the only two items I’m genuinely interested in this year didn’t appear – so I rang up the shop to ask if there was any chance at all they would still be getting it in.

    Guy on the phone treated me pretty rude – as though I’d rang up and done the obvious “Is it possible to reserve items??!!?!?!” thing. I just wanted to know if it was even worth my time going down there and battling through the hoards who will dump everything they can get their hands on straight onto Ebay on returning home.

    Don’t think I’ll bother. Will take advice given here and check around the internet/shops in a month or so. This may be the last year I even go that far.

    RSD died.

    Comment by Jordan Lee Smith — 19/04/2013 #

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