Yesterday was Record Store Day (RSD): best day of the year for record store shoppers.
Race down there silly early, wishlist in hand/in head from store email (you are on their mailing list, right?), feast eyes on vinyl goodies, get paws on summat new, feel rightly proud for helping to keep the record stores alive.
Get down there mid aft like a normal, no list in hand/head coz it’ll have been vultured by the earlies, feast eyes on vinyl goodies, recoil from the prices, try to shake off emerging RSDD (record store day disappointment) for the second year in a row, find something that was on your very own non-RSD list, feel proud for helping to keep the record stores alive, reflect on the fact that you do this every week anyway and think, actually, is this whole RSD thing a bit of a con?
OK, not a con exactly but a distortion with a misdirected focus.
Like you, I love music. That’s an understatement, as it is for many of us. We can be compulsive and nerd-like but it comes from a good place – we’re just very very keen. We’ve all got our own obsessions yet we can all get along in the same space, and nowhere is that space better defined than a truly great independent record shop. Those places feel like home, and if you’re lucky enough to have one as your local, you’ve got it made. Every week you can get some music IN YOUR HANDS, and that last bit’s absolutely crucial for those of us bothered by record shops and premise behind RSD: the browse, the immersion, the search, the discovery, the exchange, the thing you take with you. The physical elements of music.
So I feel bad for saying that Record Store Day leaves me feeling a bit cold.
Not the publicity or the occasion itself, or the ready-made excuse for going to the record shop on this very day – that’s exactly what we want and need for our music-dealing havens.
Nah, the bit that grates is its contrived gold-rush. The RSD special editions. The engineered ‘rarities’. The sky-scraping prices – 10 quid for a 7-inch single??? 10-inch EPs that sell for album prices, albums that sell for $$*@!!$!??? Very quickly you feel priced out but, swept along by the day’s momentum, you try to convince yourself that this disc is worth it. You look again. And again. And those repeat looks tell you this: it’s not worth it. It’s a 7-inch single with two tracks that you’ve already got, and it’s a tenner if not more. PUT IT BACK. It’s an RSD selfie – proof of presence, proof of participation.
Hmmm. I used to buy records all the time and I love the records I’ve got. They have their stories and they’re definitely part of mine, but when CDs came along, vinyl became pretty much obsolete. There was no choice but to buy CDs … fair enough. I love CDs too. Now we’re in a vinyl revival, so we’re told, yet it looks more and more like a revival for those who’ve got the cash to spend twice as much per album as a CD costs.
Sorry, but no.That makes no sense to me.
I’d rather buy more music. Vinyl is now saved for favoured bands or special releases, and that’s a subjective thing that’s got nothing to do with what RSD dictates will be released on April the Whatever each year.
So instead of creating a faux collectors’ market each April, why doesn’t RSD do justice to its own name and remember that it’s about the SHOP and the music? I don’t remember seeing it called Limit$d V$nyl Day or Records-Only Day. It’s Record Store Day. Why not turn it into a chance for everyone to buy more music in their favourite record shop? As well as stocking the limit$d v$nyls, indie shops could cut the prices of non-RSD vinyl and CDs for the day. I know that the suppliers have a big hold on what happens as far as stock goes, but as a music fan and record-store customer, this is what would make the day unbeatable. Something for all fans and customers, not just the dawn-start v$nyl grabbers.
I did buy a new CD, but it wasn’t RSD approved. Already it sounds fckn immense and I’m only two and a half tracks in (clue: Seattle). I’ll probably divulge more in a review some other time, but the point is already made – ’tis the music, not the spectacle, that really delivers.
That was my day. How was yours?