Record Store Day 2018
Once considered to be a dying breed, the record store, or at least those that endured into the digital age, may have found their niche. And it isn’t just the classic artist issuing new vinyl.
While the release titles differ slightly across countries, this year’s list includes David Bowie’s Welcome To The Blackout (Live In London ’78); Rubberband by Miles Davis; Lights Of Home by U2; a 2LP set on red vinyl of Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits; and the vinyl versions of Taylor Swift’s 1989, Fearless and Taylor Swift. Among others: AC/DC can remember Malcolm Young by buying Back in Black on cassette once again. Arcade Fire offers the rare Arcade Fire EP; Madonna releases a picture disc of her first album; and Pink Floyd puts out an 180-gram LP of its debut collection The Piper At The Gates of Dawn. Other titles include Elvis Presley’s The King In The Ring (now on double LP) and Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll (as a yellow 7-inch.)
Niche as it may be, nostalgia always seems to be a good business move:
independent music retailers aim to beat last year’s sales surge with a 500% increase. New figures show how the event has accelerated the vinyl revolution on both sides of the Atlantic.
The stores in the U.S. alone had a record 193% jump in physical album sales during the 2017 promotion in comparison to the prior week, according to data company Nielsen Music. The shops shifted 409,000 vinyl albums, and that represented a 484% increase. This Saturday April 21, with greater promotion and awareness, the figure may well exceed that, music-industry analysts said. The sales are driven by a range of factors, especially limited-release RSD exclusives. Fans are also lured by breakfast-food spreads in some stores as well as live bands, candy, face-painting, raffles or even free beer, Nielsen said.
There is, of course, a generation gap here, record stores being an alien concept to anyone born after big box retailers and the dominance of digital and streaming. But in turning Record Store Day into a de-facto social event, old school shopping merges with the latest of social media trends. This development is not unlike what the record store used to be. Budget Tapes & Records in Charleston, West Virginia was the only real record store I ever experienced. It was well known that if you stopped by Budget before a concert, with some loitering and a little luck, you might encounter the artist themselves in an accessible way.
Maybe that is the draw now; the digital consumer seeing a record store as a way to put something personal back into our music consumption. Music, like many other things in our lives, has become a one-click transactional experience. Budget Tapes & Records and many other stores today will be promoting live music, free food, and the experience of good folks enjoying good music together, as they have done for 46 years. As it used to be. Maybe even as it could be again.
At least for one day.