Saturday, April 21, 2012


Another Record Store Day is in the books.

Launched in 2007, Record Store Day celebrates the independent music shop, an institution that has been under attack since well before the Internet threatened to dismantle the music business.

Really, it’s a day to celebrate the relative resilience of these little shingles that could. After all, they survived the format wars, outlived massive chains like Tower Records and Virgin Megastore, and stuck out the first wave of file sharing (Napster, Gnutella, and the like).

With vinyl sales surging and interest in sprawling music discovery zones like
Amoeba Records steadily growing, it’s a good time to be a fan of black discs that go around and around and around.

I lifted this picture from Stephen T. McCarthy's Stuffs blog-hope he is not offended

That's one of two days each year where the record labels (they still exist) release exclusive titles to independent record stores in an effort to help promote purchasing music and supporting those independent stores.

With the shrinking space devoted to music at retailers like WalMart and the impending closing of many Best Buy stores, I am not certain music buyers have a choice if they want to actually walk into a building and browse.

Independent stores are all that are left. Visit them.

But why I am writing these words is to express my confusion with the record business. In their efforts to create "exclusives," they really piss me off.

So much that this year, I did not arrive early to stand in line. I figured I'll get to the store when I get there, and if nothing exclusive is left, I'll save some cabbage. I think with the collection I have amassed to date, I can find something else to listen to.

Zia Records was my only option this year, as I could not swing going to Revolver Records as well and getting into work at a reasonable time. Both are great stores in Phoenix, with Zia also represented well in Tucson and Las Vegas.

These exclusives take a few different forms.

RECORD STORE DAY EXCLUSIVE RELEASES are exclusively available on Record Store Day at Record Store Day participating stores. They are not available anywhere else in the same format.  

RECORD STORE DAY LIMITED RUN/REGIONAL FOCUS RELEASES are also exclusively available on Record Store Day at Record Store Day participating stores, but the quantities of these titles are EXTREMELY limited. Under 1000, and WAY under 1000 in some cases.

‘RECORD STORE DAY FIRST’ RELEASES  are titles that you can find on Record Store Day at Record Store Day participating stores, but at some point in the future (generally four to six weeks) these titles will be available at other retailers.

The first two categories are what piss me off.

Last year, there was almost a fist fight over "Medium Rare," a Foo Fighters vinyl collection of B-sides and soundtrack songs, and there were only two copies in the store.

I was a little interested in this, but assumed with that kind of demand, a CD release would happen. In fact, a CD release had happened, as the same music was provided as a subscription bonus to new subscribers of a British music magazine.

I tried to score the LP and CD on eBay, but they bid up in excess of $50 and I am not that interested.

Any music you want is readily available on the internet if you look for it. I wonder if maybe some people who did not want to spend in excess of $50 to listen to these songs might have such a seach and downloaded the music.

It seems to me that these people would have probably dropped ten bucks for the CD.

Record labels-you've been pissing and moaning about declining sales and piracy for a decade.

Isn't there a business model that would allow for the RSD exclusives and still put the music out there for consumers to buy?

Maybe make the vinyl release the collectible and release the CD a few months later? Maybe have an extra track on the RSD release.

I am willing to bet that a general release of "Medium Rare" would chart pretty high. Ditto for the Grace Potter live title from this year Zia had one, it was long gone by the time I got there. I can live without it.

I did score the Steven Wilson title (which they only had one of, but I think is in the third category, so not so exclusive) and the Springsteen 45 (which I will probably never play because 45's are too much effort for too little listening time).

When I leave this ball of mud for the great Zia Records Superstore in the sky
, someone is going to have a good time sorting through the plethora of CD's and LP's in my third bedroom wondering how many trips it took to get them all upstairs.

Yeah, I may drive a cheap-ass car...but it is not hard to see where my excesses lie.

The morals of this story? There are a few.

(1) Support your local record store.

(2) If you want to sell it, you have to manufacure it.

(3) You can't take it with you, so getting a decent night's sleep is more important than being first in line on Record Store Day.

(4) It is not worth fighting over a Foo Fighters record. Even if it is rare.

(5) I know your iPod, iPad, iPhone and iWhatever are convenient-but why don't you revisit listening to music on a real sound system and remember what it was like to be a teenager again, memorizing the lyrics on your favorite gatefold album jacket.

And finally, and most important, (6)-if you have a really big music collection, be good to your friends. One day you're going to need help moving.

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