Record Store Day

Record Store Day, commonly abbreviated as RSD, the premise of a record store version of Free Comic Book Day, is a wonderful idea.  However, it falls flat on execution.

Free Comic Book Day promises a free comic, in participating stores, to anyone who walks in,  while supplies last .   This is meant to encourage those with budding interest in comics to get a foot in the door.  It works, and works well.  Yes, you may have a long line/wait ahead, but you (usually) get a free comic, and sales abound.  Then you get to read comics at your leisure.

Record Store Day, if you are to believe the accounts of the “ambassadors”,  is meant to recreate that magical feeling/experience many older folks had with their local record store when they were first discovering music.  A person used to go in, peruse music albums at their leisure (potentially for hours) and/or chat up the employees who may have suggestions, then go home to (hopefully) enjoy the new music.  It was a relatively relaxing experience even if it wasn’t magical.

Record Store Day is far from magical.   Take the same experience above, and replace hours of perusing with hours of waiting in line,  replace employee suggestions with employees being outnumbered at least 10 to 1 and too busy to help most people, replace any relaxation with stress of getting what you want before someone else. This was my experience, though I’m sure it’s different for everyone. 

People don’t go to Record Store Day events to discover music.   They mainly go to try and get the exclusive limited-edition RSD releases before other local people interested in the same thing get there first.  Sorry to say, when you are one in thousands competing for copies of a product that a particular local store may only have 3-5 of, it doesn’t work. 

When people discover music nowadays, I would guess Google is the crown champion.   You can type in almost any song paired with any genre and find a unique take on an old favorite.  I have seen/heard quite a few good bluegrass covers of popular songs this way.   You can also type something like,  “list of songs about ______” and maybe find a song for whatever you need at the time.  The potential is endless discovery. 

What can be done to “fix” Record Store Day?  It’s hard to say.  Free Comic Book Day offers something free, but, these “free” comics actually cost the store money.   If a record store gave away “free” vinyl, which costs them maybe $10-20 each, they would not survive.  If there was a free offering it would likely have to be digital,  which doesn’t necessarily encourage people to go to the physical stores. 

Record stores might not want to change a thing.   As it is,  they make lots of money from RSD sales.  Those who do brave the crowds are usually hardcore collectors willing to shell out relatively high prices for these forced-rare releases. 

Some day I hope they figure out how to do things better, and truly encourage customers to visit their store to discover music.  Unfortunately we don’t need record stores to do so anymore.   Releasing rare, expensive, and only-to-be-sold-that-day-vinyl-records is mostly just a dick move that happens to help record stores make money for a day. 

One comment

  1. sconfigurator · March 29, 2017

    I guess another reason why record store day is failing is also from the audio engineering standpoint about how limiting your music needs to be in order to be placed onto a record. Especially from the electronic scene where you go from DAW to vinyl. Certain aspects such as sterio-bass cannot happen as it would make most players skip due to the shaping of the grooves. Music has to be down-mixed to a monitor-like format which is where equalization comes into play. Certain frequencies end up getting cut off making the entire experience sound like you used a low-pass filter on the entire album.

    I’ve met people who live and die by the record. Usually its the same guys that collect radioactive vacuum tubes piled up in a box in their living room. Surrounded by technology made between 1940 to 1971. But it’s not worth the hassle when I could go from Ableton, and just push to bandcamp.


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