This Saturday celebrates the seventh annual Record Store Day, which means record stores around the world will be selling exclusive releases and previously unheard music by some huge artists.
Thanks to the program’s success, Record Store Day has grown substantially each year, even sparking a Cassette Day offshoot (Though, personally I’m waiting for Hit Clips Day with bated breath). While the spirit of Record Store Day is meant to celebrate the importance of local record stores, the ominousness of its exploitation has never felt more present.
Let’s bring things into perspective. On the first Record Store Day, seven years ago, there were only ten exclusive releases. This Saturday, there are 400. Now, you’ll most likely only find a fraction of the list, but it brings to light the problematic growth of such an event: the ever-growing demand for equally limited products and how, several hours after last year’s Record Store Day, many of those releases were made available for bloated prices on eBay.
I went midday last year to find freshly emptied shelves and, as an omen of my budding ambivalence for the day, an older gentleman distraughtly asking if I had seen any Hüsker Dü releases. Before I could answer, a store clerk explained they were sold out because they were sent only a few copies, and some people bought multiples. While, yes, first come first service is the natural law of any consumerist “holiday,” the feeling of competing with fellow music lovers is, in my opinion, an unwelcomed tradition.
I’ve also heard from a handful of employees from different shops that the exclusive and sought after releases are often prioritized for larger stores due them having a bigger customer base, making it really hard to remember that, underneath the frustrating supply and demand principles at play, the day is supposed to be fun.
Saturday shouldn’t be considered the singular, annual moment to appreciate record stores. I urge anyone partaking in the event to start building visits into your weekend routine; dry cleaners, bank, record store, groceries. You don’t even necessarily have to buy anything, just explore, become familiar with the staff, dig through stacks of CDs and records and tapes, and treat yo’ self to something every now and again. Sifting through Recent Arrivals is often full of exotic promise and can, at times, be therapeutic. I once randomly found a picture disc of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Fever to Tell and felt a burst of happiness and pride. This relentless hunt for treasure is part of the experience, mon frère/ ma soeur.
Personally, I’m headed to a few of my favorite stores to buy some non-exclusive releases – like the new Protomartyr, Angel Olsen, and/or Saintseneca (But if I wind up finding a copy of Collision Course, I wouldn’t be mad) – because I want to support the vendors, which is one of the primary goals of Record Store Day. I don’t mean to repeat myself, but I want to echo the sentiment that Record Store Day is to remind you why it’s important to celebrate the small miracle of such places, these temples of culture, and to not only keep them afloat, but cherish them as keystones of the community. There are still going to be people who sell the Bikini Kill 45 or LCD Soundsystem 5-LP for astronomical prices, but the following week, when you strike gold in the “S-T” used section, it won’t matter.
Check out a list of local stores and releases on Record Store Day’s website.