UK vinyl album sales hit record high in 2019
(Credit: Clem Onojeghuo)

Record Store Day, global

How are you enjoying Record Store Day? If you’re wondering what the rest of the world is up to today then look no further, we spoke to some of the most unique record stores on the planet:

Tower Records, Japan

The importance of a record shop all comes down to the merchandising and recommending activities by the skilful buyers, as well as the hands-on entertainment only a physical store can offer.

Nowadays, not restricted to CDs, but music itself can be easily listened to and purchased over the internet.

The reason record shops can still maintain its significance because of the special values that can be provided by them, not by any online e-commerce stores.

Going back to the merchandising and recommending activities; imagine you are browsing the Internet looking for new music, whatever platform you’re using, you need to make a choice on the tablet or smartphone screen and click, just to try it out. On the other hand for a physical store, one step in the store and you are welcomed with carefully selected music playing from the speakers. Visually, you are also greeted with the numerous artists you may know and may not know, displayed proudly throughout the store.

Also, take for instance the listening machines. Right next to the music the customer has already taken an interest to try, are the displays of the previous works of that artist or any “if-you-like-this,-you-may-like-this” upcoming artists recommended or maybe the works done by the same producer of the music currently being played on the listening machine. Here alone, customers are already making unexpected contact with new works and music they never have seen before. The professional buyers at the stores are responsible for the delivery of the wide range of recommending developments based on various approaches such as genre or certain eras, and the hand-written POPs by the buyers themselves often contribute largely to serve as an important information source for the customers.

This means that customers at the brick-and-mortar stores are passively receiving an enormous amount of information just by being there, and can enjoy the unexpected encounters skillfully staged by the buyers.

In the meantime, hands-on entertainment for us would include the long list of in-store live events held at the stores or the various exhibitions including photo exhibits, exhibits of costumes actually worn by artists etc. – Any of these, you need to be there to take in. For reference, please note that the two flagship stores in Shibuya and Shinjuku of Tokyo each host more than 700 live events annually. Furthermore, the specialized sections for pop idols, anime or visual rock located in our major stores such as Shibuya or Shinjuku are popular gathering points for the fans, functioning as great meet-up venues to exchange information of their choice.

As can be easily imagined from the above said, Tower Records has the tendency of drawing the stream of core music fans, as well as deeply devoted fans of specified artists or genres. This eventually leads to being the ultimate and foremost location to promote yet-to-be-known artists or indie bands as well as music from overseas of which even the genre may be new to the Japanese and all these put together, we are proud to have actually seen some of the nationwide hits see its breakthrough from our stores.

That would be the impact that Tower Records Japan is proud to say has on the music scene today.

Aquaris Records, San Francisco, California

like a lot of other stores, it’s a pretty crazy day; super fun, but super hectic. We often joke, that for us, every day is record store day but just in terms of the store and the music and the fans, it is pretty amazing.

So many people come out. the store is packed all day, we sell TONS of stuff, it’s exhausting but a super good time for sure.

I think the best part about it is just having the store full of weird records and crazy music nerds, lots of old friends, new ones too, good conversations, the whole community aspect of what makes record stores such an invaluable resource are on display that day big time. Ultimately, we’re just a little store, that carries cool weird music we love, and that we want to share with other folks into cool weird music. It’s definitely a labour of love, so something like RSD is pretty exciting. Lots of new folks find out about our store, plenty of longtime aQ shoppers who maybe haven’t been here in a while come out, and mostly, it’s like a big party, one where we all go home with a bunch of new records to listen to!

Ss for record store day stuff we’re psyched on:

  • A MINOR FOREST ‘Flemish Altruism / Independence’ 4lp reissue on Thrill Jockey
  • both albums from this nineties math/post/noise rock band, the drummer of which owns aQ (and is ME haha)!
  • The GHOSTBUSTERS glow in the dark 10″
  • The RON JEREMY ‘discusses classical music’ 7″ (only a 7″??)
  • CARDINAL ‘2/t’  LP
  • Vinyl reissue of this seminal baroque indie-pop classic
  • SCHARPLING & WURSTER  ‘rock, rot & rule’  lp

Vinyl reissue of maybe the funniest record ever, especially for music nerds.

I think our customers are probably excited for those, but they’re / we’re also looking forward to the HEATMISER lp reissues (Elliott Smith’s old band), the 4 soundtrack LPs on Death Waltz, Pussy Galore reissue, Rodion G.A. reissue, the Space Project compilation.

We also have a new release from local band TWIN TRILOGY, featuring Sean Smith, the first in a series, only available at AQ on RSD, and on Sunday, Twin Trilogy will be playing a special in-store performance.

Doyle Davis, Grimey’s Nashville

Record Store Day is an international celebration of the culture of the indie record store, community-based shops that unite music lovers of all ages around a shared passion for music.

At Grimey’s we are first and foremost driven by this passion. That’s why we scour the catalogues of vendors far and wide to curate the selection we offer our customers. That’s why we frequently host in-store performances and events, to get the committed and the curious into the shop to experience the thrill of a live performance or the chance to win a rare vinyl test pressing or concert tickets, or just to commune with a like-minded customer or staffer over the latest and greatest bands and records we’re obsessing about currently.

We are music specialists, not just retailers. We try to offer vast experience and knowledge of the art form in all genres and we love to share. Record Store Day was designed to promote these attributes to a public that was getting mixed messages about the health of music and record stores. By offering an enticing selection of rare, limited, (mostly) vinyl releases that you could only purchase from a brick-and-mortar indie store, participating record stores could see the traffic again that had been migrating to the convenience of online shopping.

It’s been an incredible shot in the arm for Grimey’s and for record stores everywhere. Each April, we gear up for our biggest day of the year by ordering upon the exclusive releases and planning a party to blow our patrons’ minds. Grimey’s offers an all-day concert festival in the back lot with local vendors, food trucks, a selection of local craft-brewed beers, and 8-10 bands performing for free. In the past, we’ve hosted the likes of Paramore, The Avett Brothers, Caitlin Rose, Jeff The Brotherhood, Charlie Louvin, Del McCoury, The Features, Dr. Dog, Black Joe Lewis, and Turbo Fruits to name just a few. This year we’ve got Needtobreathe, John Oates (just one week after he’s inducted into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame), Apache Relay, Majestico, PUJOL, Promised Land Sound and more. It’s going to be another amazing day!

Lucky Records, Reykjavik, Iceland

We have been a part of Record Store Day for four years now, and each year it seems that the interest for it is increasing here in Iceland. This year we will be offering a nice batch of special RSD vinyl releases and we will also have live gigs on the hour / every hour throughout the day.

Our main mission as a record store is to increase the interest in music in general (this is our true passion and hobby) as well as to offer the general public a place to visit to talk about music and flip through our growing stock of records and CDs. In our opinion, there needs to be at least one record store (of any kind) in each larger city or town, just for the sake of general health. Not to mention that flipping and scrolling through the actual physical formats of music (opposite the “virtual” downloads) and looking, touching and feeling the artwork itself is a huge part of the passion and fun.

Waterloo Records, Austin, Texas 

Waterloo Records knows that record stores matter because through their constant support and celebration of music and its culture, they serve as their community’s “town square” musical gathering spot. Record Store Day, through its indie exclusive releases, provides a gigantic breath of fresh air to music lovers worldwide, who daily need music in their life, the same as they need oxygen.

Waterloo Records’ slogan is “Where Music Still Matters” and one of its missions is to bring the music of the world to Austin Texas, & to promote the music of Austin & Texas to the world.

Waterloo Records will apply that on RSD by featuring nearly 500 exclusive releases and by hosting Austin’s own Black Angels in-store, autographing their RSD exclusive 10″ at 5PM, accompanied by free locally brewed beer. We’ll begin the day at 7AM with free coffee & pastries to the first 50 music lovers in line, followed by bloody Mary’s at 8AM, doughnuts, yoga and healthy snacks at 9AM, prior to our 10AM opening. We’ll have contests to win vinyl test pressings, guitars, turntables and more.

Rockaway Records, Australia

How have you been preparing for Record Store Day at Rockaway Records? What have you got planned?

Heaps of offers – see attached. Also, I have been through my deep vaults of vintage vinyl and have processed some ultra-rare vinyl to hit our racks for RSD. These are titles only seen, if you’re lucky, every 10 years or so. There will be coloured vinyl live Pink Floyd box sets, the most sort after Beatles LP  the famous “butcher cover, punk, ska, rare Aussie pressings and much much more. Of course, there is also all the fantastic releases for the day itself.

With the rise of digital music, what made you decide to set up an independent music store in Brisbane?

22 years ago Rockaway Records was established in Paddington in Brisbane to follow a passion my wife Glenyce and I had for music. We both left highly successful professional careers of some 20 and 15 years respectively to embark on this dream. No internet, no eBay etc etc.  and well prior to the digital revolution. I guess the question really is why we are still here when everyone else is falling by the wayside. The answer is there are still music lovers that are passionate and want the real item, not a digital version. We have evolved and have now grown bigger than ever before.

With over 10,000 pieces of vinyl (LPs, EPs and singles), both new and vintage, rare memorabilia and collectables including gold records, autographs, original posters, and limited edition prints, that need is fulfilled when the customer walks through the doors of Rockaway. The consumer can pick up the piece of vinyl, look at it, smell it, feel it and listen to it on the turntable available for that purpose.

Do you think having local music stores, such as Rockaway Records, is an important way of reminding people of the magic of music?

Absolutely. Artists are struggling for Record Company support and we can always help emerging artists by playing their music in store, or talking to our customers to let them know what good music is really out there that don’t necessarily get played anywhere because they are not today’s look –  to be thrown away tomorrow. Vinyl is also a huge contributing factor to young people coming back to “hard copy”

What’s your favourite part about owning a records store?

The interaction with my customers, regardless of their taste in music. It is a fantastic journey which doesn’t end. A lot of them have grown with me over the last 22 years.

What is it about vinyl records that makes you keep going back?

The touch, the feel, the artwork, the feel of owning something, the retro nature and of course the sound.

Do you remember your first vinyl? What was it? Do you still have it?

My older brother had all the money and bought all the vinyl, which I “downloaded” to cassette. He is a huge Beach Boy fan (and is a good friend of Brian Wilson) so my first LP was the 1962 album Surfin’ Safari by the Beach Boys. Yes, my brother will still have the original copy of the vinyl.

In your opinion, what’s the main difference between how people experience music today to when you were growing up?

Sad to say, Australia Got talent and shows like that seem to be today’s “fast food” music – very throwaway. The intrigue, the wait for new music to land on shores is also gone by the immediacy of the internet. However, if you are good, the internet is a great medium for exposure via social interaction.

What does local music mean to you?

It is more difficult today than ever to “make it”. The bands doing the hard yards but gigging around Brisbane will be where the future of good music survives. It is everything.

Do you have a special ‘music memory’ growing up? What was it?

In one day,  personally meeting Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees, Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, Paul Weller of the Jam and Don Henley of the Eagles

Viva Record Store Day!

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