by Lexi Bissonnette
In a digital download age few people have memories of heading into a mom and pop music store, searching through the vinyls or the CDs and grabbing their favorite artists. But, when Record Store Day began in 2007, the goal of this special day was to bring people back into brick and mortar stores and purchase special merchandise from their favorite artists.
“Record Store Day was born in 2007 and we only had maybe 200- 300 retailers with about 12 releases,” says Michael Bunnell, executive director of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores and the creator of Record Store Day.
The day has special releases, bands performing outside stores, exclusive merchandise and more. It’s something really geared toward bringing recognition back to the independent stores and give music fans something new and different they can’t find anywhere else.
On April 19, 2014, Record Store Day returns, only it’s much bigger and better than when it began in 2007. “Now we’ve got about 430 releases stateside and numerous in Japan and Europe,” says Bunnell. “It’s grown by leaps and bounds.”
“The importance here is not the massive list of releases – it’s cool and makes it sexy – but the real point is to combat the bad press around the music industry and what everyone thought of these stores; that they were doomed.”
Even if the music isn’t the most important part, this year some of the sought after items include: a 7″ David Bowie picture disc and Bruce Springsteen’s American Beauty EP. Other artists participating in the 2014 Record Store Day include the late Notorious B.I.G. and Coldplay.
For Bunnell, who also runs a store in Boise, Idaho for the past 37 years, the event is more than just a successful venture he helped launch. “To me, it’s important because I’ve established my identity around the importance of these cultural stores and the communities around the globe.”
So, just what stores can music lovers go to and participate in the festivities? Bunnell says there are some pretty strict requirements that they take seriously. “A store must truly be a music store, about 50 percent or so needs to be music.” They also need to be a physical store and not just an online shop to participate. According to Bunnell, the list is up to about 1700 retailers internationally including the US, Europe and Japan.
The event is one of international attendance now as many countries have their own version. Victoria Kinnaird is a patron of Record Store Day at Love Music in Glasgow. She’s an avid customer and last year waited in line at 5am to get the merchandise she coveted.
While she’s strictly a customer and not a store owner, she has been spoken to about a pricing issue they were having. “Here in the UK, the stores get to set their own prices for the Record Store Day releases, and some shops were charging way more than others for the products.”
Getting the word out at the international days may be a bit different than in the US, but nonetheless, Kinnaird was able to learn about the great day and has been a customer ever since. “I first heard about RSD through one of the bands I love. I love rock music, and rock bands have always been really supportive of the independent stores that benefit from RSD. “
“There are a lot of healthy music stores still around and we need to celebrate that fact,” says Bunnell.
So, even if you love your digital downloads, maybe take a break from that world and stop by a local indie music store. You may just find a limited release by your favorite band. Mark your calendars for April 19th and find a store near you.