Fuck record store day. Here’s an idea record stores, why don’t you just have cool in-store shows? WOAH. Or here’s an even crazier idea, why don’t you help some local bands release some records? Or actually BUY the records and show a little faith instead of doing consignment. Yeah. Wrap your head…
I never even thought about this stuff until last night when it was pointed out to me that One Direction- a group I have nothing against but are you know, one of the biggest in the world- released a 7” yesterday. Which is cool. However, the demand for it meant that the pressing houses were all full up, so no room for the little guys to have theirs done in time. I totally get the appeal of limited edition items, especially on fancy vinyl. However, the entire point of record store day was to help out the little guys. The record shop and the bands. It’s amazing to see the big deal it’s become over the past few years, but it would be so much more satisfying if it weren’t just going to the big names who don’t need the money.
I saw one direction vinyl yesterday but it was a glam rock band.. Maybe tower ordered the wrong ones.. There were a lot of them.
Yep, that was them. Ironic humour or whatever. Apparently, it not only stopped smaller acts from having theirs done in time for RSD, but even bands who were just planning releases for around this general time. They’d scheduled their album launches for months to be told that they weren’t a priority compared to this lot. Ouch.
What? That’s do fucked up. RSD is meant for smaller independent music people not bloody one direction. Like, I’ve seen people give out about tower records doing RSD, but they are independent in Dublin just cause there store is now bigger than HMV’s. But it’s not for one direction.
Side note: Do one direction fans even own record players or will they try to put them in a cd player? Like most of them are 10 years old.. Right?
I did see the head of RSD UK suggest that it will start to regulate itself to a point. Now, me WOULD be optimistic, but Tower had to buy all those One Direction picture disks. By the time I’d got in they’d already sold out of some thinags I wanted but they had LOADS of One Direction records left. They won’t be making that mistake twice.
There’s still a problem with major labels dominating it in general though. I’m not sure how that could be solved…
I sort of tiptoed around this in my earlier post because I didn’t want to unnecessarily denigrate teenage pop fans (hello, Tumblr poptimists who may be reading this!) but I can’t imagine many One Direction fans own turntables. However, they don’t need to own them, but just have access - which is why I suggested parents or older siblings - a sort of trickle-down effect of the vinyl revival, if you will (although, especially if it’s older siblings, there may be some conflict involved). Furthermore, since there are a lot of One Direction fans, it only takes a few…. and lastly, I think it’s fairly well established that plenty of people will buy a particular record even without the means to play it, *just* because it’s a cool object (which is a large part of why many people buy vinyl, the ability to produce sound from it is merely an extra justification).
As you say, commercial logic dictates that if they don’t sell, they won’t be produced again, at least not in such numbers. But the conspiracy theory would be that there’s some attempt to choke off smaller releases to… I dunno, concentrate the pressing capacity on more lucrative reissues? That’s a stretch, but as you say, the dominance by large players - almost a tautology, really - is a difficult thing to address, as by its nature it’s baked into the capitalist process.
I didn’t partake of RSD this year, in part because I haven’t been buying or even playing much vinyl of late (only having access to a turntable on weekends) and because if I want to buy something, I’d rather do on a quieter day. The only specific release that I heard about that caught my eye was the Life Without Buildings Any Other City reissue, but I’ve decided I still prefer Live at the Annandale Hotel. I went into the new Tower - which really is excellently placed opposite Hodges Figgis bookshop - a couple of weeks ago, and the vinyl section is very nice up on the cast-iron balcony, but… well, I didn’t actually want to buy anything. I was sorry to hear as well that Elastic Witch was closing, although apparently only/mainly because the operator wants to devote more time to playing in his band, but again I only bought a few records there, ones which I could almost as easily have gotten in Tower (with a bit more digging). It’ll be interesting to see if it’s replaced though, because the whole cafe/record store synergetic combination is touted a lot but I wonder if it really stands up, commercially.
After so many years of RSD critiques, I think I’ve become comfortably pessimistic about the whole thing (well, as comfortable as someone not working in a record shop nor with any particular desire to do so). I’m not, and never was, the kind of person that needed or wanted the ‘social’ side of record stores. I’m the guy who walks in and methodically browses through the boxes and picks a couple of things and buys them, with minimal conversation (sorry to any bored shop workers that may disappoint). And I enjoy that, for what it is - it’s qualitatively different from browsing on a computer screen, with the greater element of serendipity and chance, and it’s nice to be able to bring it home and place it on the turntable the same day. Still, those things don’t count enough to me that, frankly, I’d put any real effort into preserving record shops. The people who really dig them, who value the bonhomie and whatnot, I guess they’ll just have to come up with another model.
Maybe the mid-sized independent like Tower will survive, or the odd local shop with a good reputation or good coffee, or maybe there needs to be a more drastic shift towards an essentially non-commercial, community exchange. What really interests me, though, is the stuff discussed here about collective recommendation methods for music streaming online, which is naturally where most of the discussions about music (like this one) have gravitated. Add to that a local element, for artists from a particular geographical area, and online ordering maybe supplemented by, say, stalls at a weekend market, and what do you really need a record store for?