Ahh Spring! The weather is warming up, the birds are singing and as we progress through March, we start to count down the days until Record Store Day. Then, just like the last winter freeze, comes the Record Store Day haters with their usual rhetoric. This year, just like every year, there are haters from the beginning, bitching about lines, short pressing amounts, and of course the overall capitalist “black Friday” feel of the whole holiday. At this point it is just expected.
Now we have come to the defense of Record Store Day in the past, and before you jump all over us and tell us about your negative experiences with the holiday, we suggest you read this article and remember we have been there too. We have been in the line and our “must haves” were sold out, or never arrived at our home town store. We have seen our missed opportunities going for outrageous prices on Ebay. Our wallets have felt the pain of the extra mark up for the super limited editions. We get it. We have been there.
Yet here we are again, feeling the need to defend our sacred holiday. While there has always been a number of articles attacking RSD, this year’s statement from Sonic Cathedral and Howling Owl, both independent labels, has found its way into dozens of news feeds. While they could have chosen to ignore the article, RSD defended themselves and put many of the rumors to rest, ending the article with “give us a break.”
Maybe it’s time that those closing words be taken more seriously. Maybe it’s time to back off record store day and look at the good they have done instead of constantly focusing on the cherry picked negatives.
So here is the list of the top five things to give record store day a break on.
1. The list.
There are still those who think that every release is thought up by just a few people around a conference table at RSD headquarters. While they do curate the list, it is the labels who make the decisions on what to push as an official RSD release. This curating serves as way to keep labels from over loading it with pointless re-issues and dead product. You can read more about this process here.
We despise flippers. Really, we do. We think the people who sit outside the stores all night, buy up a shitload of inventory and then run home and hawk it online are outright scum. However, what people do is their business and if they want to sell their property online, that’s their business. For all those begging RSD to do something radical to prevent flipping, what do you propose? There is no conceivable way to limiting this from happening. Now, stores who violate the rules and sell online before RSD, yeah, they are guilty and should not be allowed to participate. RSD monitors this much more closely that people think. It is also worth noting that many RSD titles listed before RSD on eBay are not stores, but sellers who are certain they will get their paws on the wax when the doors open. No doubt if a magic wand could have been waved and prevent eBay flipping, it would have been done by now. Stop bitching. You really want to put an end to eBay flipping? Remove the market. Stop buying those releases from eBay. Kill the market. Eventually the reward will outweigh the inconvenience of waiting in line all night and that frees up one more spot in line for the rest of us.
3. The Price
Yeah we get it. We see it. The prices on RSD titles are considerably higher. This comes in an age where many of believe the price for new music is outrageous enough. No doubt it stings even more when those of us who support record stores all year long take it a little harder in the wallet. It sucks. However it’s important to remember that those prices have nothing to do with RSD. The wholesale price, usually astronomical, is set by label and distributors. Then, some much needed profit is worked into the price as well. Labels take immense risk pressing the vinyl that may or may not sell. Priced any vinyl pressing lately? It isn’t cheap! Rare collectable titles demand limited quantities, and therefore higher production costs. With keeping their titles secret, they sacrifice promotion and marketing for these releases which only increases the risk. Then, god forbid, the stores who take the most risk buying the records with no guarantee of sales and zero return potential, actually make a little profit on their busiest day of the year.
4. Limited quantities
Nothing is worse that hearing your record store only got three of a certain hot title, and you’re a 24th in line. The odds of fighting through those in front of you, the flippers, and those throwing elbows makes you getting a copy slim at best. You think to yourself, why don’t they just press enough for everyone? With so many stores taking part in RSD, (this year there are 220), it inconceivable to think that every store can stock enough copies of each release to satisfy every customer. The releases are spread too thin, and yes, certain quantities go to one store while none go to another. It is not perfect. However before a finger is pointed to RSD it’s important to remember that the quantity and where they are sent it a decision of distributors and labels, trying to do the best they can while keeping as many customers happy as possible with limited quantities.
5. The Lines and “Black Friday” feel.
For those of us who support our local record store all year long, it’s easy to make judgement of those lining up outside the stores. We silently judge unknown faces as flippers and those who only support the store on RSD. We loath the idea that our frequently visited sanctuary is being overrun with a wave of capitalism.
However we have to remember two things. One, Record Store Day is not about celebrating the customers. Whether the customers be every day supporters or making their yearly pilgrimage, RSD is about the stores, and when it comes to their survival, it doesn’t matter where the money is coming from. If you don’t want to support your local record store on RSD, fine. Do it every other day other than RSD. Those visiting the store for the first time may catch the bug and be back a few more times throughout the year, and bring their friends. That line outside the store is catching the attention of the media, and everyone driving by. It is showing everyone that the record store is there, it still exists, it’s an amazing place to be, and is essential to the community. In every scenario the store benefits, and that is the purpose of RSD. In the end, that is what really matters. It’s also working! Stores are not only surviving, but opening. An entire new generation is discovering the magic of a record store and for the first time in a long time, the future is looking bright.
So yeah, give them a break.
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