It would appear that I’m not the only person ‘in the industry’ getting their nuts in a twist about the knock on effects of Record Store Day. There are independent labels shouting from the rooftops that RSD is not supporting independent record labels as much as it should.
As mentioned before, pressing plants have been choked with orders from major labels to such an extent that smaller labels have had a hard time getting material pressed. Wasted State had the same problem two years in a row, and have only avoided it this year by postponing the release of Gareeda’s second album.
This is purely a case of demand out stripping supply. It’s only been in the last 5 or so years that vinyl has been coming back into favor, and with the bulk of the worlds pressing machinery being sold or scrapped at the end of the 80s there are far fewer places the get vinyl pressed.
If Record Store Day hadn’t started back in 2008 (or was it 2009?) the major labels would have eventually found away to exploit vinyl’s comeback, with the same strain on the remaining infrastructure. It just wouldn’t have been as coordinated.
However, the main point at the moment seems to be that smaller labels are feeling hard done by, and the general consensus is that RSD isn’t doing enough to help them. Now I’m nowhere near Columbo or Kojak, or even the doris from Murder She Wrote, but I can read. Record Store Day. There’s a clue. Record Store Day is just that, a day for record stores.
The people behind RSD have put a lot of good work into boosting record stores back into the music buying public’s minds as the places to go to buy records, and it has, in my opinion, been a success. Yes, the event, for lack of a better description, has been taken over somewhat by our pals the majors (labels, major music retail is as dead as flared jeans). Unfortunately, that’s what happens, there’s always a bigger fish.
Ignore this for a while though and think back to the pre-internet days of buying music. If you ever had the pleasure of buying an album from a shop with half decent staff, you will probably have had a conversation that went along the lines of “If you like this try this” etc. You don’t get that with buying online. Well, you do kind of, but Amazon’s recommendations aren’t worth shit.
This is what things are moving back to though, human interaction. So yes, the majors are getting the lion’s share of business on RSD, but, it’s having the desired effect of driving customers back into record shops. I have no doubt that this will, in turn get customers talking to store staff, and receiving recommendations for music, not just on major labels, but independents too.
Don’t get me wrong though, I do agree that RSD has become more major label orientated. As an independent label owner, I don’t personally see the point in releasing anything for RSD. It will inevitably get swallowed up by what the day has become. However, I do see the merits and benefits of RSD.
I for one will be heading down to a few local record shops on the day to see what I can get my hands on, and then heading to the pub, where I’ll no doubt sit till they kick me out. I plan to make a day of it regardless.
But what about the independents wanting more of a share of the day itself? We’re going to have to start thinking outside the box I think. [‘Thinking outside the box’, what a fucking horrible phrase, I’ve £10 for anyone that can go back to the 80s and murder the fucker that first uttered that vile concoction of words.]
For some, the knock on effect of reintroducing people (or giving them their first taste) of physical record shopping, in a real shop, isn’t doing enough. Maybe there should be an Independent Label Day based on a similar principal? Not as practical, you could have a label doors open day.
In 2011, while in Florida for The Fest, I made a Pilgrimage to No Idea Records HQ one morning while they were having a good old fashioned Yankie Doodle Yard Sale. Stalls were set up outside with everything they release and distro, and, if you couldn’t see what you were after, they would nip inside to see what they had lying around. It was great to meet Var and his wife who run the label as well as the other people who only ever existed as a name at the bottom of an email.
This might not be as practical an idea for smaller labels, run out of peoples houses and flats (like Wasted State). A couple of years ago SMIA organized an independent record fare, which sounded like a good idea despite the lack of awareness they managed to drum up. (I’m still not sure what SMIA do, so I cancelled Wasted State’s membership.) A well-organized event like this could be a great thing, maybe something to think about.
Anyway, I’ve lost the thread with this and I’m sure a third Record Store Day rant is the last thing people are interested in. Next time I’ll endeavor to have a moan about something else.
Take it sleazy.