Thursday, 26 March 2015

Record Store Day

Any fans of record shops will know that this year's Record Store Day is just around the corner. Now I quite like the idea of RSD, unfortunately, like Emerson Lake and Palmer or the Sony Discman, the theory is much better than the reality.
I've only 'done' RSD once, two years ago. Unless you're wont to get out of bed at stupid o'clock in the morning on a Saturday then I really wouldn't bother going. I can guarantee that by the time you get there, whatever you've gone for will be gone. When I went to a participating RSD shop back in 2013 the only thing I went for had been sold out for ages. The handy thing was, that when I was standing in line, I had two studenty types behind me who couldn't wait to get in there and buy, ugh,'vinyls'. I got there at around midday and certainly didn't expect to queue to get in when I arrived. So what happens then? Well, you just buy something. Anything so that you don't feel that you've had a wasted journey. I came home with, amongst other things, a Frankie Goes to Hollywood picture single. It's a nice thing to have but it's hardly essential.
Last year I saw the author of Last Shop Standing, Graham Jones, give a talk on record shops. This came a few weeks after RSD 2014. When he took questions from the floor he was asked what could make RSD better. He came up with a number of ideas to improve the RSD experience for everyone. He suggested that the organisers were considering limiting official RSD releases to new music only. Or introducing a loyalty card scheme so that regular independent record shop customers could get first dibs on RSD by getting four stamps on their card over the previous year. None of these ideas have been implemented. So this year there are well over 500 official RSD releases. I've had a look at the list and there's absolutely nothing I'm desperate for. So yet again we will see people queueing outside Piccadilly Records in Manchester before it's even closed the day before. And for what? A few 7" singles that you didn't really want because the David Bowie picture disc you went in for sold out at 8:30, while you were still parking the car. I realise that RSD is important for independent record shops in their constant struggle to survive against downloads, online stores and supermarkets but against the backdrop of me supporting independent music stores throughout the rest of the year and tales of an unscrupulous retailer reserving stock for favoured customers means that on April 18th I'll stay snuggled in bed for as long as I please.

8 comments:

Rigid Digit said...

Agree - I'll be avoiding it too. Great idea, just turned into an "event". And how many of the queue will be turning up at the same store next weekend, next week, next month?
Besides, most of the stuff will be on e-Bay inside 20 minutes (at stupidly inflated prices)

Bright Ambassador said...

Exactly. Those student types behind me two years ago were clearly there because they thought it was a bit of a 'hangout'. Especially as the shop concerned is an achingly trendy place with a right on ethos. And why get a live band or DJ in to do a set when your small shop is already packed?.

Oh, and there's a correction I need to make here. Mrs Ambassador has remained me that we did RSD in 2012, that was at an gallery-cum-record shop in Chelsea. We were greeted by two Made in Chelsea type young ladies who asked us "Have you visited this space before?" And they had nibbles! Nibbles! You don't get that sort of service down at your local Slipped Discs/Sonic Boom/Championship Vinyl. Needless to say, we didn't have to queue that day.

Hawkfall said...

Do these things go for much money on eBay in the end? Like yourself, I had a look at the list and didn't see anything these that I was mad keen on. RSD releases now seem to be pointless picture discs and reissues of old records.

I visit a record shop of some kind at least a couple of weekends each month, and I always buy something. There are probably two important points at play here:
1. It's a habit
2. I usually don't know what I'm going to buy when I enter the shop.

No. 1 is probably the more important, and I don't see how a hyped-up one day yearly event will create a habit among people who haven't yet developed a love for the calm zen of browsing among a bunch of records and discovering a perfect copy of Stormbringer.

Bright Ambassador said...

I don't know about the calm like Zen, when I'm browsing I'm usually impatient to look at a section where some bloke in a kaghoule has been browsing for what seems like hours. Get out of the way!
This is especially true of Unkown Pleasures in Edinburgh. That's when you've made your way past all the Chinese tourists looking for Beatles' and Abba records.

Hawkfall said...

My nephew lives in Edinburgh and was chatting to the Unknown Pleasures owner. Apparently, 80% of the custom comes from tourists, which I guess is one aspect of being on the Royal Mile. So don't knock those tourists! They're keeping one of my favourite record shops open.

Those Chinese tourists were probably complaining about the English tourist taking ages at the Rush section.

Bright Ambassador said...

I bought the 7" of Marillion's Heart of Lothian the last time I was in there (I'd not heard the song on the B side before, okay?). There was an inscription in biro on the reverse. I presume the relationship didn't last. Not surprised, fancy trying to woo a woman with a Marillion record. Bloody idiot.

Hawkfall said...

I bought a bunch of ABBA singles off of eBay that also had dedications on he labels. Anyone who thought ABBA songs were an effective way of building a long-lasting relationship probably hadn't listened to the lyrics.

sp73 said...

I think one of the main problems for shops is they have no say over what stock they get and they can't return anything if it doesn't sell so they get stuck with stock nobody is going to buy. My local shop loses money each year on RSD.
Add in the fact that labels can't get any proper releases pressed due to all the overpriced re-issues.. I think it's time is over.