Friday, April 19, 2013
Celebrate! Record Store Day
Add to the list of spring high holy days (NCAA Final Four, Easter, Masters, Earth Day) a music event: National Record Store Day is tomorrow, April 20. It has become a crossroads between old vinyl (collections sold in the few remaining stores) and new vinyl (pressings of new recordings and remasters from famous artists).
In one of my earliest posts on January 26, 20111 I offered my thoughts about (http://vinylstats.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html) the joys of time spent flipping through cardboard sleeves and listening to music in your neighborhood record store. While the stores continue to disappear from the landscape they assume an almost iconic status in our musical culture. They are where dreams of fame and fortune (High Fidelity) are nourished or where musicians are discovered (Alabama Shakes found their drummer, Steve Johnson, working in a record store). And they become the metaphor for the conflict between the good old days and the steamroller of progress (Michael Chabon’s, Telegraph Avenue).
I discovered Record Store Day thanks to an article by David Lindquist in The Indianapolis Star profiling some vinyl collectors in Indianapolis. http://www.indystar.com/article/20130416/THINGSTODO02/304160101/Record-Store-Day-caters-collectors-who-deep-groove
Lindquist offers a nice look at Dr. Spin: The World’s Only All Vinyl DJ, aka, Doug Babb, who claims his trove of 200 albums featuring the Moog synthesizer is the world’s largest. It must also be something of a record for Indianapolis to have three record stores, Indy CD & Vinyl, Luna Music and Vibes Music.
The stores have jumped on this bandwagon with live concerts and exclusive sales of new releases sold on the big day. Check out their website (recordstoryday.com) for an amusing video of Jack White taking you on a tour of a vinyl pressing plant or new releases from Billy Bragg, MGMT and the Doors, plus a screening schedule for the film, Last Shop Standing.
The Washington Post reports these special issue vinyl albums are proving a mixed blessing for the stores because their orders are not returnable and if the owners don’t guess right about what the fans want this year, they are stuck with the unsold records.
Even if record stores are not here to stay, it appears that vinyl records are. The Recording Industry of America reports that sales have jumped from just over 1 million to just over 7 million in the past five years. That’s only two percent of recordings sold but at least you can’t pirate vinyl.