So this Saturday is the tenth annual Record Store Day, and obviously in the record buying world this brings out a combination of both excitement and disappointment… and I’m sure there will be plenty of articles like my mine discussing the pros and cons of the day, but I’m still going to offer my view point as a music lover and a record buyer.
For myself there is always a sense of anticipation for the announcement of the exclusive Record Store Day releases, I like to browse the list for maybe the one or two things I know I want amongst the other 400+ average titles, however I have found myself becoming increasingly less satisfied by the event and questioning why I actually bother with it.
Two years ago I queued for up to three hours outside a record shop in the freezing cold to attempt to get a copy of ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ by The White Stripes only to be beaten by the teenager stood in front of me… in retrospect I’m glad this happened as I believe I probably would have sold the record on to buy the conventional release by now, however it made me realise the absolute ringer music fans are being put through on this “special day”. We queue for hours to buy what we perceive as special editions of records that we’ve convinced ourselves we need as they are “limited”,’whilst record companies lap up the rewards and record shops have to deal with a massive queue of frustrated record buyers, not the original message of the day is it.
The day in question for me was particularly frustrating as the store had a two in at a time policy, which meant people were left outside for ages whilst people in store talked to the shop owner and what not… I now realise however despite the annoying two in policy that this is how Record shopping is meant to be… you go to record shop and you want to have a solid browsing period, just looking at the covers and being intrigued by what you might find – and the chat with staff, well that’s meant to happen, that’s how recommendations are made and frequent custom and trust is gained. With that in mind no-one really should have to wait outside their store to have that experience.
As for the specialist releases, I often look at these lists and think does this really need to come out on this particular day, however I do also look at the lists and may come across something interesting I’ve never heard of, so it’s a double edged sword really. With over 500 releases this year, and likely many not going to sell vast copies, something needs to give… I won’t go into how it holds up the pressing plants etc, we all know that story, however I will out my idea forward of cut it back to 100 solid top rate releases, and as for the other 400 perhaps make these available in the weeks coming up to Record Store Day so we can encourage more people to hit the stores more regularly instead of once a year to get the limited edition Bastille 12″.
I think that days like Record Store Day and Free Comic Book day can sell fans short… if you are a collector there is no worst feeling than standing outside a shop nervous as hell thinking will you get what you want, and whilst the concept of that may sound ridiculous, however when you are in that moment it’s all that matters. Credit to Free Comic Book Day however for not making their fans pay hard cash for things they love. This feeling of not knowing is crappy, you go to the shop expecting to pick up what you want, no fan should be left feeling disappointed; I do feel that the disappointment has only come though from the the fact that exclusive titles are released and they become the focus of the day… these days should be about the fact that such stores exist and run by passionate like minded people who want for us to be able to get the goods we so desire.
It will remain a controversial day, I am always in two minds about it, I love the idea of new records coming out to buy, but I see the whole thing as mass hysteria that kind of takes the fun out of record shopping and makes it stressful.
This Saturday, go to your record shop, but don’t just go for the releases, go see what else is on offer, pick up something based on its cover alone, get a recommendation… take in the full proper Record Store Day experience this weekend.