As an undeniable vinyl resurgence sweeps the music world we have decided to look back the most glorious of days, Record Store Day.
In 2007, annual vinyl sales in the US was sitting at 2 million which has risen significantly to 16 million in 2017. This is representative across independent record stores, RIAA sales, and online sellers like eBay, Discogs have shown drastic spikes in vinyl sales. However, these stats still don’t include offline sales or second hand sales which is a massive fraction of the overall market.
Skeptics would argue this is still a far cry from the early ’80s all time vinyl peak when it pulled in $2 billion in the US moving 300 million units.
Nevertheless the significant and steady increase is largely due to the stuffy impersonality of streaming, the sound quality and tangibility of vinyl and general appreciation and awareness like the mighty Record Store Day.
What is Record Store Day? Where did it come from? What is its significance? We endeavour to find out in honour of the mighty wax frisbee.
History of Record Store Day
Record Store Day began in 2007. It was generally just an appreciation ceremony for the unique art from that is vinyl and was proposed by a band of independent record store owners. As it stands there is nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US with countless others across the globe.
Over the decade that Record Store Day has existed there have been innumerable re-issues, exclusives, signings and one-off events to celebrate the store owners, artists, and customers keeping records alive and pressing plants in motion.
For example: next year’s RSD will see an exclusive graphic novel chronicling the early rise The Grateful Dead as well as a never before heard vinyl pressing of their show at Fillmore West, San Francisco 21, Aug 68.
Marc Fayd’Herbe, Universal’s Sales Manager, has described Record Store Day as “the single best thing that has ever happened” for independent record shops.”
On the very first Record Store Day, April 19 2008, Metallica spent hours in Rasputin Music in San Francisco meeting fans and doing signings. Now hundreds of artists play one off events every year to encourage the use of vinyl as a leading musical source.
In 2009, Jesse “Boots Electric” Hughes from the Eagles of Death Metal, declared himself the ‘Record Store Day Ambassador’ as a way of promoting the importance the stores and artists. Since then Joshua Homme, Ozzy Osbourne, Iggy Pop, Jack White, Dave Grohl, Metallica and St. Vincent have worn the ceremonial sash. In 2019 the RSD ambassador was Pearl Jam.
The second annual Record Store Day was celebrated on Saturday, April 18, 2009 with roughly 85 special releases and 500 artist appearances, including those by Slayer, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Stooges, MC5, Wilco, Killswitch Engage, Erykah Badu, and Talib Kweli.
Billy Bragg met Record Store Day co-founder Michael Kurtz in an airport and agreed to help kick off Record Store Day in the United Kingdom with a special live appearance and thus the seed spread like wildfire.
Since its conception cities across the United States such as New York City, Los Angeles, Boise, Charleston, Raleigh and Las Vegas have declared Record Store Day an official holiday. What up Sydney?
In 2019 various record stores throughout Sydney were involved in a massive vinyl overhaul. Stores like Some New Record Store, Mojo Record Bar, The Record Store, and The Velvet Frog all flaunting store wide discounts as well as live music and special events.
Furthermore, many artists held exclusive 2019 Record Store Day releases such as Soccer Mommy’s 2016 record For Young Hearts, Midnight Oil’s Pleasure Island, Live, Death Grips’ Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber Megamix), Robyn’s Body Talk released in 2010 as well as Aretha Franklin’s The Atlantic Singles 1967.
With Pearl Jam being the official ambassadors for 2019’s Record Store Day, lead guitarist Mike McCready summed it up best in a statement:
“Independent record stores are hugely important to me, and have been ever since I was 12 years old. Before I even really knew what they were — there was a certain feeling of ‘this is a dream come true,’ and it’s a wonderland and there’s so much to learn in here… and it’s still that way”.
As every year consistently grows in size and scope, 2020 will likely be the biggest year yet with more exclusives, more stores and more vinyl.
As vinyl sales sat at an all time low in 2007 after a decade of sustainable decrease, Radiohead released the art-rock masterpiece In Rainbows through an unprecedented pay-what-you-want model allowing fans to pre-order the album for as little as nothing.
It was both hailed and criticised though its unlikely, as revolutionary as it was, that Radiohead could have foreseen the vinyl resurgence that has occurred since.
The UK is on the brink of a 2000% increase in vinyl sales while turntable companies like REGA now make 500% more decks than they did in 2007. This and numerable other sources all point toward the continued resurgence in annual vinyl sales.
Thus, the only option now is to get down to your local record store and fill your shopping bags with music. Support emerging artists and independent labels. If you have vintage blues, buy a new record. If you love new records by something experimental.
There’s a sublimely wild library of sonic wonders on every good street corner replete with a world of knowledge. Get out there and keep the pulse alive.