Supporting independent business is something I take very serious. We’re in a world where a Wal-Mart is less than 15 minutes from every single person in America. So giving my hard-earned money to a business that works hard to it earn it, just feels right. I’m happy to pay slightly more, knowing money is staying in my community instead of the off-shore bank account of a soulless corporation. In theory, I should love Record Store Day.
Record Store Day is like the audiophile’s Christmas!
However, there is a dark side to this seemingly joyous holiday. A brilliant idea to boost the sales of mom & pop stores, slowly becoming ice cold and corporate. Each year, the sense of grassroots community is taken over by the ugliness of capitalism. Depending on who you talk to, Record Store Day has become the exact opposite of it’s initial purpose.
The argument of Record Store Day’s pros and cons has been raging since it’s inception. I don’t own a label or a store, so it might be a little dismissive for me to weigh in on that particular argument. With that said, I can tell you how I feel about Record Store Day through the eyes of a consumer.
Record Store Day is more like Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving.
Standing in line outside a store at 5 am is not fun. Even if the weather is pleasant, you’re still standing outside a store at 5 am! There’s no way to make that enjoyable. Much less when the thing you’re waiting for may or may not even be in said store when it opens. Sure you can call the day before, or search the internet for participating stores, but even that can be vague or misleading to make sure you show up.
A couple years ago, I was excited for The Lees Of Memory 7″ exclusive to RSD from Side One Dummy Records. Being in Chicago, I was certain I was going to find an indie store that was going to carry it. By the time I did my own detective work, I realized I had only one shot at picking this record up. Out of 3 participating stores, I’d be up a river if the store I chose sold out. After all, you can only wait in line at 5 am once.
While waiting in line, I was surrounded by Record Store Day’s worst element: the consumer
Behind me was a couple of 20 somethings, excited about the ‘mad cheddar’ they were planning to make on eBay the next day. Ahead of me was a teenager bragging to his girlfriend about a ‘sick 1981 Stooges bootleg’ he acquired the previous year. (if you don’t understand how annoying his statement is, just stop reading now). I can’t even decide who’s worse, the resell vulture or the casual music fan buying records for street cred! Not only are these cretin buying music for all the wrong reasons, but they’re ruining it for others!
After waiting in line for what seemed like an eternity, The Lees Of Memory release was sold out already. My adventure in irritation was in vain. Thankfully a friend of mine picked it up for me at another location, but what if I didn’t have any friends? I would’ve been forced to buy it from one of the vultures on Discogs or eBay for double the price. Is that what RSD has become? A pre-sale for scalpers? Does that specially colored variant really sweeten the the deal? How many live albums can Third Man Records issue?
You don’t need a certain time of the year to purchase or enjoy vinyl, just enjoy it!
If I’m going to search for exclusives in a store collecting dust, or online at a discounted ‘sorry we couldn’t sell ’em all’ price, then why even show up for Record Store Day? The whole process is catering to the vulture or hipster and leaving the real music fan in the cold. Do any of those people even purchase records on any other day of the year anyway?
If you want to support your local mom and pop store, indie artist, or DIY label, buy their records on any day of the year, not just the designated day in April. I’m not calling for a boycott or anything of the sort, it’s hard to hate on something with good intentions. However, if you can justify paying $40 on an album that’s $25 every other day of the year, then maybe Record Store Day is for you. I would much rather stay home and listen to my albums than seek Instagram likes based on my purchases. The thought of that makes me physically ill.
And don’t even get me started on Jack White….
Aaron (or Coop) is a freelance writer, multi-instrumentalist and overall lover of all things music. As an advocate for indie record labels and artists, he is passionate about local scenes and do-it-yourself artistry. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, he’s not afraid to explain why.