This Saturday marks the return of Record Store Day, as you should have heard. There are many strong, exclusive releases coming out this year, all of which can be found over at their official website. While it is great to see the music industry rally together to support the merchandising arm, we must ask the obvious question: why only one day?
It’s no secret that people don’t buy music like they used to. New CDs are overpriced and useless, and the idea of purchasing files that you don’t really own for $10 when it’s just as easy (less so now) to download and share music without an iTunes account. Online streaming services put far more music in the ears of the people than ever before, and we couldn’t be more grateful. However, what isn’t said is that these services shouldn’t be a substitute for the neighborhood record store; rather they should supplement your music listening experience.
As media gets progressively more social, and actual media products become more ubiquitous, cheaper and far easier to obtain, a value added is necessary to keep the customers coming. Record stores are an excellent venue for music exploration and ownership, two features that should be held dear in our new virtual age. Sure, Spotify will tell you what artists sound like what you’re currently playing, and Pandora will create entire radio stations of music you could potentially like, but nowhere else can that happen in a real, engaging manner like in a record store. And rather to steal or stream, record stores allow you to participate in the music industry, by purchasing, carrying and spinning a piece of art. In the days of cloud computing and online chatting, a real experience with a real product helps us stay grounded; keeps us alive in the real.
Unfortunately, instead of people realizing that added value on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis, we must remind them that these stores exist one official day a year. It’s essentially a marketing issue, and Record Store Day is a marketing solution, a poor one at that. By setting up an international event with exclusive releases, in-store performances and free beer (some places), struggling small businesses enjoy packed venues and high-sales volumes, relatively. However, instead of your average record collectors, most business is actually done by enterprising Internet resellers. Piggybacking on the exclusivity of the releases, flipping some of the most sought after discs for double, triple or worse the original price online, resellers effectively cut the music industry and infrastructure out of the majority of the profits. This is bullshit.
Will we be participating in Record Store Day? You bet your ass we will, because the end, it’s still about the business and keeping it alive (and the Shabazz Palaces Dross Glop #4 is very bad ass). But we won’t keep ourselves to one day, and stoop to unfulfilling marketing tactics. You want to help the industry and help yourself? Pick a personal monthly Record Store Day. You won’t regret it.