Record Store Day – Keeping Stores Alive?

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Independent record stores across the UK celebrated International Record Store Day this Saturday. This is an eight year tradition in which record stores sell exclusive vinyl for one day only, a music lover’s Christmas if you will. With hundreds of stores taking part in the offering of over 700 exclusives, the real question is: does record store day really help keep the indie record store alive?

Record Store Day was first established in the UK in 2008, a reaction to the dying independent record stores. In recent years, coinciding with the rise of Record Store Day is the rise of vinyl LPs which saw a twenty year high of 1.29 million units in 2014 after seven years of growth according to the Official Charts website in their announcement of ‘The Official Vinyl Charts’ launch this week. Vinyl is back on the map and takes up 1.5% of overall music units sold in the UK currently.

Yet, smaller record stores such as Brill Records in Exmouth Market, don’t see too much of the vinyl increase as bigger and more known stores such as Banquet Records and Rough Trade, it seems that RSD is more about going to buy exclusives than supporting your local record store. Jeremy Brill, the owner of Brill Records said: “The people who come for record store day, come on that day and they don’t come on any other day […] the whole event should be about record shops are not a one day a year thing, they should be a regular thing.”

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At Kingston’s local indie record store, Banquet Records, the line was around the block and down the road with hundreds of people of all ages waiting to get their hands on the latest exclusive of the favourite band. In the line, the age range ran from early teens to people over fifty.

When I spoke to Hannah, 17 and a returning customer, about why she spent her morning standing in the cold in Kingston, she said: “[Record Store Day] promotes physical copies of music instead of downloading music.” She went on to say, “I prefer buying the physical copy and when I’m buying vinyl I prefer to buy from my local indie rather than HMV.”

In the queue Hannah has one of the less popular ideas as she is a regul
ar for buying vinyl. The more popular idea from young people was buying their favourite current bands on vinyl: Peace, The 1975 and Biffy Clyro were among the most popular.

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On the other end of the spectrum was Paul, 49, who has been collecting vinyl “for as long as I can remember,” he went on to say, “I come for the event, meeting people like myself who enjoy vinyl and appreciate it. I buy records all of the time so exclusives are not what bring me here, it’s more the atmosphere.”

Ultimately it seems that most of the people that I spoke to go to support their local record store regardless of the hype behind Record Store Day. While RSD brings a spike in the sales of the independent store, it is the customers that return, like Jeremy said, that keep your local shop in business for years to come.

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