Historically, the ambassador for the annual Record Store Day represents an act that represents the classic era of vinyl. We’ve had Ozzy Osbourne, Iggy Pop, Dave Grohl, and Jack White all appear in the role. What do these guys have in common? They’re rock and roll gods, but also figures who love to propagate the magic of rock and roll. When the event does branch out, it’s to acts that still have a connection to that throwback attitude. St. Vincent and Chuck D weren’t classic rock heroes, but they both pull quite a bit from that mythos as well.
So when Taylor Swift was announced as 2022’s ambassador, it certainly seemed like a left-field choice. Swift is of a generation that favours streaming over physical vinyl, and she has almost no connection to the usual demographic that plunders old school record shops for antique vinyl. What’s the deal? This is obviously a mistake, right?
But here’s the thing: Taylor Swift’s appointment as ambassador of Record Store Day is actually the best thing to happen to the event. That’s because when you read about the growth of vinyl in the modern day, it’s not just because older generations have reconnected with the format. A whole new wave of fans, specifically Generation Z, are shelling out for vinyl in record numbers. And you know who is to thank for that? Taylor Swift.
At least partially. Swift represents the second biggest selling vinyl artist in the UK in 2021: 56,917 individual records sold in Britain alone. Swift is leading a fantastically petty charge against the former owner of her masters, Scooter Braun, by releasing completely re-recorded versions of her classic albums. The Taylor’s Version of Fearless and Red have been dutifully swept up by her massive fanbase, along with copies of more recent vinyl-friendly albums like Folklore and Evermore. Swift makes sure that plenty of copies of her albums are available on vinyl, and when she asks her fans to listen and buy the new versions that are directly under her control, it’s no wonder that a massive windfall of vinyl sales follow.
Swift is also a champion of indie record stores. When the pandemic forced the closure of numerous American record shops, Swift sent out a massive number of autographed vinyl that could only be found at small vinyl shops around the country. She even personally donated to Grimey’s New and Pre-loved Music in Nashville to help keep it afloat.
“Taylor Swift has shown her love and support for independent record stores by not only supporting our shop specifically during the dark, early days of the pandemic, when she directly donated to help us support our staff, but also by steering her eager, excited, and dedicated fans to independent record stores, places that many of them visited for the first time while in search of her signed CDs,” Grimey’s owners Anna Lundy and Doyle Davis said in a statement. “We can’t think of a better choice for RSD Ambassador for 2022!”
Swift herself seems ready to take up the mantle. “I’m very proud to be this year’s ambassador for Record Store Day,” she says in a statement. “The places where we go to browse and explore and discover music new and old have always been sacred to me. Record stores are so important because they help to perpetuate and foster music-loving as a passion. They create settings for live events. They employ people who adore music thoroughly and purely. Those people and shops have had a rough few years and we need to support these small businesses more now than ever to make sure they can stay alive, stay eccentric, and stay individual.
“It’s been a true joy for me to watch vinyl sales grow in the past few years and we, the artists, have the fans to thank for this pleasant surprise,” Swift concludes. “Happy Record Store Day, everyone! Stay safe out there.”
Record Store Day can only benefit from an artist with the magnitude of Swift, but Swift is more than just a big name to throw on a poster. She’s a modern figure who has done her part in the modern revitalisation of vinyl, and she’s taking on the role as an honour and a duty. Not that Record Store Day Ambassador is akin to a military appointment, but it makes perfect sense for anyone who lives vinyl and wants to see it continue to grow. If anyone is going to help make that happen, it’s definitely Taylor Swift.