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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Record Store Day 2014 - the pros and the CONS

With record store day slipping into the rear view mirror it seems like it is now time to pick over the carcass of the event.

This year seems to have been about the most contentious ever.

The first negative issue to float to the surface was the WTF missive from the independent labels who found that they couldn't get any of their acts out there for RSD as the major labels had the very few pressing plants left fully booked to accommodate a slew of reissues.
As it could be argued that the whole concept of the day was to create a lifeline to be thrown to the independent stores - and labels - who kept the faith and were sinking below the surface a few years ago, this seemed like the boot of capitalism striking a blow to the chin of the good guys.
PR wise it wasn't ever going to be a RSD that set off with its best foot forward.  

Then off the back of that the releases for the year were revealed.

With CDs and cassettes rubbing shoulders with the vinyl quite a few people were left scratching their heads in bemusement as the major labels looked to use the day to breathe some new life into the back catalogues of their big guns.

Was this really what it was supposed to be about?

There’s another three hundred and sixty four days that Sony could have slipped the Aerosmith albums out on after all.

How about the 1Direction picture disc single?

Expressing concern about the involvement of the teenyboppers favourite could open the door to the dreaded allegation of being a music snob, but personally I have no issue with people listening to whatever they want to regardless of age or how manufactured the material is, but I do still have reservations about the inclusion of an item that is little more than a piece of merchandise created to exploit kids.
If we ask ourselves how many of the little tykes have access to a turntable then an honest answer would be probably very few.

I stood in a line with a couple before me, and a gaggle behind me, who I would argue strongly will never ever be music fans.
If others heard the conversations that were conducted then any argument that the 1D single could be the gateway drug that would lead to young teens being addicted to the collecting of vinyl would have been quashed right there and then.

Once again it seems to be the inclusion of this, and more, has less to do with drawing attention to the last shops standing, the independent labels, or the niche market of vinyl collecting, and more to do with the lining of pockets, and not those of the record store owners either.
Of course this is a pay day for them, and one that may ease them through all of those days when they have three people wander in with only one buying anything, but I do wonder how much they made off the ten pounds price tag on the 1D single and how many each shop had.
Let’s say it was a pound and they had six.
They sell them all but it’s hasn't covered the minimum wage requirement of their assistant, and sales still have a long way to go to touch utilities, rates and taxation etc.

The addition of 1D to RSD doesn't sound that wonderful now does it?

Was this the moment when RSD jumped the shark?

Maybe if there was some sort of criteria that the industry had to meet then there would be less contention though.
No reissues unless the original was of a very limited run and never seen the light of day on CD, or the new version is remastered, has additional bonus tracks and a little something else is added to make it worth the fans while to buy yet another copy of a release that they already have.

That doesn't seem to be too much to ask for does it?

How about some positive discrimination with the major labels only being allowed to put out a percentage of the over all releases for RSD so that the playing field could be levelled a bit?

Once again it all seems to be about creating an inclusive balance to redress things.
If left to the majors to call the shots that’s not going to happen, but the people behind RSD don’t really have the clout to dictate anything to them suppose.

It all just seems to smack of the usual absorption of a good idea into the mainstream for it then to be watered down and exploited.
Pretty sad really when you think about it.

Then finally there were the usual cries of loathing for those who bought releases to sell on.

Even the night before RSD ebay had sellers upping limited edition 2014 record store day releases and it doesn't take a degree in rocket science to know that these people have access to stores.
It’s unquestionably tough for a fan of an artist to queue for hours to pick up a limited release with money they have salted away only to find it’s already been snapped up by someone who is running home to let their fingers dance on the keyboard as they offer it up to the highest bidder.
With much of the material out there already priced at the limits of what we can afford this is just another nail in the coffin for the already disillusioned.  

I’m ultimately left in a quandary over the whole debacle to be honest.
I regularly visit record stores and spend, spend, spend, and while I don’t personally need a day dedicated to the selling of vinyl, I do want to continue to support an idea that maintains the spotlight on the stores and will ensure their survival, but with every year that passes the concept seems to be becoming less focussed on the stores, indie labels and artists and instead is disappointingly returning to shine its light on the majors who don’t need the help regardless of how loudly they shout about being poverty stricken.

It feels like if it continues on this path that the negatives will ultimately outweigh the positives.

Guess all we can do is sit back and wait for 2015 and see if they celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Jonas Brothers.

Until then I will console myself with this RSD purchase I made.


  1. Nice to see Paul Weller wading in on behalf of his fans.

    Paul Weller
    This is a message to all the fans who couldn't get the new vinyl single on Record Store Day and/or paid a lot of money for a copy on eBay.

    I agree with all of you who have sent messages expressing your anger and disappointment at the exploitation of these "limited editions" by touts.

    Apart from making the record, the rest has very little to do with me but I am disheartened by the whole thing and unfortunately I won't be taking part in Record Store Day again.

    It's such a shame because as you know I am a big supporter of independent record stores but the greedy touts making a fast buck off genuine fans is disgusting and goes against the whole philosophy of RSD.

    There were copies of my single on eBay the day before Record Store Day and I've heard stories of people queuing outside their local record shop only to be told there were none left at opening time!

    It only takes a few to spoil a wonderful concept for everyone else. Shame on those touts.

    Don't support their trade and don't let them use Record Store Day to ruin the very thing it's designed to support.

    Onwards. PW

    PS. I'd like to say thank you for all the positive, supportive comments on our privacy case recently. Bless ya.

  2. What annoyed me the most, is the fact that Universal Music takes it as a Chance to fleece more money for old rope out of fans of it's biggest Artists from yesterday. I, as a huge Sex Pistols fan and collector, delighted in the fact that this year there was a Box Set to be released. Ok, it consisted of the same Demo Recordings from a box set that we paid £100 for 2 years ago, but the added incentive here was an "Unreleased take" of the recently discovered Belsen Was Gas demo.

    Like many fans, I queud up to pay £75 purely for this one track, only to find when I got home that this version was EXACTLY the SAME as the version that had been played on BBC6 Music and released via Youtube back in 2012, with a couple of seconds of Studio mumblings tacked on from the session tape of Johnny Rotten testing the Microphone levels.

    Hardly groundbreaking or indeed worth £75.

    The Download card that came with it doesnt even let you download the Box set, but gives you the 2012 Never Mind The Bollocks double cd edition (with Live in Sweden the Bonus disc).

    Universal claims it has so much unreleased stuff to release over the years, but still wants to charge us a premium price for something we pad a premium price for two years ago, Whats next? a Limited Edition vinyl of Never Mind The Bollocks?? Never mind the amount of Issues Virgin have milked over the years since 1977.

    It seems they are using RSD as a way to flog us the same thing as we already paid for, on a different format, while leaving the good stuff that we fans want, in the vaults.

    I certainly dont see myself Queing all morning again on RSD to be ripped off once more.

  3. I couldn't disagree with one word of that Jonny.
    I gave the Pistols box set a complete bodyswerve as 1) I couldn't afford it, and 2) I could hear Lydon whisper in my ear 'ever get the feeling you've been cheated'.

    In a few short years RSD has to an extent lost its way.
    It's on a well worn exploitative path that is taking it ever further from the reasons it was created for.

    Absorbed by the mainstream, packaged with a shiny bow and sold on to the Jonny come lately's.
    Give it another couple of years and RSD t-shirts will be on sale in Primark.