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Record Stores Still Matter

Posted by April 14th, 2010 No Comments »

Record Stores Still Matter
Record Store Day; April 17, 2010
By Ben Allen

“Those assholes at Matador! They better still have a copy at the Northgate store,” I exclaimed as we drove to Silver Platters.

It was Record Store Day 2009, and I was desperately trying to find a copy of the limited edition split 7 inch single featuring Sonic Youth and Beck covering each other’s songs. The seminal New York Indie rock label had released 1500 special copies and sent five to each participating record store. We arrived at Silver Platters, and, not surprisingly, they too were sold out.

I wouldn’t go home empty handed though. A quick inventory revealed I had already purchased nine albums from five local record stores.

The idea for Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 by Chris Brown, an employee of an independent record store chain in the Northeast called Bull Moose. He and five like-minded individuals founded the annual event the following year as a “celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally.” It is now celebrated every third Saturday in April.

I understand why most people don’t bother visiting record stores. I still buy a huge number of CD’s, but most of the time I quickly rip them to iTunes then stack them on a shelf to gather dust. While the Internet is an amazing tool that’s enriched our lives, it has also eliminated the personal experience that comes with the brick and mortar sales experience. If you’ve ever been to Bop Street Records in Ballard, you know what I mean. Recently a friend of mine was asking about Television’s “Marquee Moon,” and I stood there listening intently as owner Dave went on for about ten minutes about the band, the album and its importance. The store literally has half a million LP’s and I’m guessing Dave or one of his employees has similar knowledge about most of them.

Experiences like these were an important part of how I discovered music growing up. I remember saving money and going to buy Nirvana’s Nevermind on cassette right when it came out. I hadn’t already heard the album leaked months before it “came out,” seen the YouTube videos, or read ten different blogger’s reviews. Heading down to the one record store in town was an exciting, important event and here was definite sense of wonder in not knowing exactly what you’d hear when you popped that new record, tape or CD in your stereo.

So what’s the point? The point is that record stores still matter. They matter because they provide an opportunity for music nerds to connect, in person, about their favorite bands.

Local record stores will likely be flooded with such nerds on Saturday. While we’re battling over limited edition copies of special releases produced just for Record Store Day 2010, they’ll be plenty of room for everyone else to pore through the racks, hear some new tunes, and talk to people who are still excited to connect with others about the music they love.

There’s also a host of live in-store performances commemorating Seattle’s Record Store Day 2010.

  • Silver Platters (Queen Anne):  Crème Tangerine, HIM, Trampled By Turtles
  • Damaged Goods (Belltown):  Exene Cervenka (X), Mark Pickerel, Zoe Muth, more
  • Sonic Boom (Capitol Hill): Minus The Bear
  • Sonic Boom (Ballard): Danny Barnes
  • Easy Street (Queen Anne):  No live acts on R.S.D., but Exene Cervenka (X) will be there the night before. Friday, April 16.

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