In 2007, over 700 independent record stores in America came together and honoured everything independent. The celebrations made it across the Atlantic and, on Saturday, music fans will see the sixth annual Record Store Day in the UK.
For one day, independently owned music stores in the country come together with artists to pay tribute to this irreplaceable culture. There are countless events lined up for this day, with over 200 stores in the UK taking part to celebrate this weekend. We’ve done some digging to find out what’s going on around the country and what people think of Record Store Day.
Joshua Sowden is a sales assistant at JG Windows record store in Newcastle. He said for him Record Store Day is about ‘getting people back into the shops. It is a great thing to be getting a music community back together!’
It is clear vinyl is making a comeback, even if it is the trendies that are fronting it, but as long as record shops stay open that’s all that matters. Obviously, to the music purists vinyl is the only way to listen to music and I for one am instantly impressed when I walk into a room and see a floor to ceiling vinyl collection. Although Mark Richardson of LP Record Store in Sheffield recalled the difficult last decade or so, he said: “Back in 2000 it was horrible, no one had an interest in vinyl anymore. I always hoped one day it would bounce back, and it has!” He went on to say: “It is a great feeling to see young people looking round the stores – It lets me know I am doing my job right. Record Store Day is the icing on the cake.”
Sam Harrison, a singer-songwriter from Lincoln who is also a member of the Acoustic-Pop group ‘The Breakfast Club’ said: “In a world where music is becoming increasingly more available, indie record stores are the only physical distributors for this music and they deserve to be celebrated.”
I agree with the concept of Record Store Day, but how much difference does one day a year make? It raises awareness, but maybe we need to be careful that this is not a novelty event. The build-up is important and gets people talking. The day is filled with events, and the aftermath will see people making more of an effort to buy music from independent record stores. But how long will that last?
Is there a risk that this excitement will wear off, and only stay with those who were already interested? Every year this day comes and goes, but how many people who took part are still buying vinyl several months later? Simon Thomas, from Catapult record store in Cardiff, told us that Record Store Day is there to “excite those who are already active in the vinyl scene”. He added that the nationwide event is a “community builder”.
Even if the record stores gain just ten new customers from Record Store Day, that is better than losing the same number to the Internet, right? I spoke to George Robertson, from VoxBox Music in Edinburgh and he said that the day is there to make people aware that stores like this: “Still exist, and are here to offer guidance and allow customers to browse and listen to music”.
Being an independent record store makes you unique and important, iTunes can’t offer a genre specialist who can chat to you about the band you are looking for, or take in to account your specific tastes—and from that go on to recommend other similar bands that could be your next favourite act. It is very easy to sit at home and build your music collection at the click of a mouse. But isn’t part of the charm searching through a load of shit records for two hours until you find that LP you’re looking for?
Sister Ray in London is holding a street event on Saturday so go down and buy something. Phil Barton, the owner, said that “Record Stores are cultural beacons, which must be celebrated”.
In a society where downloading is regarded as the norm, it is important that we hold on to the material possessions in life. I bet most of you can still remember your first CD or vinyl record. What was the first song you downloaded?