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- Written by DodoNetwork
- Category: Music Industry
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Now don't get me wrong, I love records. I have a rather respectably sized library of records and a nice turntable on which to play them. I also like record stores, and I understand the importance of promoting such stores. Record Store Day is a different story. I want no part of this day and refuse to set foot in a record store on this day.
Perhaps part of my problem is that I lived near many great record stores back in the 1990s. That decade was a great time for vinyl enthusiasts as people were still transitioning to CDs and trading in their old records. You could pick up used vinyl, even some out of print classics, for under five dollars each. Many of the independent labels were still releasing vinyl, and new records were generally sold for around ten dollars. There were some pricier records, but those were usually the older records that were still in excellent condition, or imports. You're not in there necessarily looking for rare finds, you just want to find some things to listen to, maybe trade in some of the albums you're tired of, and talk to the people there to maybe get turned on to something new. To me, that is what a record store should be.
I know that the market for vinyl records has changed since then. New and used records are a bit more expensive these days, and while I wish they were still cheaper, I understand the market trends that caused the higher prices. I still frequent record stores despite the fact that it now costs me considerably more money. I support independent record stores and I think others should as well. That being said, I still hate Record Store Day.
I first attempted to participate in a Record Store Day several years ago. I thought I would pop in, maybe grab some of the special releases, see what else was going on and then be on my way. Well that never happened; I couldn't even find a place to park. I gave up and went home. This should be an enjoyable day but fighting my way through a madhouse, only to most likely leave frustrated and disappointed because everything good had already been picked through is not my idea of a good time. I do not go to department stores on "Black Friday" and I am not going to do the music industry equivalent of it either. The wall-to-wall consumers aren't the worst part, though.
The worst part is how this day seems to revolve around instant collectibles. When something becomes a "collectible" in a natural fashion, usually because of low production numbers due to low demand and then demand increases later, and you own one of those items, you feel like you have something pretty cool. You have a story to go with it. You became aware of it before the majority did and you have something to show for it. When you have an instant collectible, it is intentionally manufactured in small quantities, even though the demand will far exceed the numbers. It is announced beforehand and if you want it, you have to go out of your way to get it, such as waiting in line long before the store opens, preferably before anyone else gets there with the same idea. Not much of a story to tell there.
To make matters worse, the instant collectibles attract the worst sort of record buyer. They attract the people who buy up all the special releases they can and then turn around and sell them online for inflated prices. The Record Store Day version of ticket scalpers. I know that buying from those parasites only encourages their behavior, but by the industry enabling that behavior through the use of instant collectibles, it becomes preferable for some people to go that route.
I realize there is more to Record Store Day than just getting some special releases. There is the social aspect, sometimes beer is included. There is entertainment; some stores have bands playing. It's an event for sure. To be completely honest, though, there is nothing going on at any record store on this day that I couldn't and wouldn't rather do on another day or another place. Again, I love records and record stores, but Record Store Day, in the state it's currently in, is making me second guess myself. I hope the focus eventually moves away from the collector factor and moves toward simply supporting the local record business, but unfortunately crass consumerism always seems to win.