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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Record Store Day Thoughts

Record Store Day is a bit of a scam. There. I said it.

At the same time, there I was, lined up before opening with all the other hipsters and record collector scum, waiting to spend, spend, spend!


Well, I had a ton of in-store credit burning a hole in my pocket. And, at the same time, I'm enough of a sucker that there was some stuff I actually wanted to buy this year. Sigh. Hook, line and sinker.

But first, let me reel off a quote from the excellent Numero Group which kind of sums up a lot of how I feel about this retail holiday:

For openers, most Record Store Day records are trashy cash-ins. Bogus 7″ repros, expensive and needless live LPs, and perhaps the worst culprit of all, records that aren’t actually limited but are marketed as such (We’re looking at you Flaming Lips Dark Side Of the Moon)

Of course, they then go on to pimp their own Record Store Day special, available in the oh-so-trendy and completely worthless cassette format. Waddayagonnado?

Speaking of worthless, how about that Beach Boys double 78rpm set? How many of those do you think will ever get played? How many people even have something to play 78s? I don't and yet, here I sit looking at #3794 of however many thousands they cranked out, unwrapped and on my table.

The one item I was actually out for, the Big Star Third "test pressing" set, is pretty cool, even the cynic in me must say. But, it's still a fetish item. I had the music already. There's nothing new there. But I still had to have it, for some reason.

Ditto a few "bogus 7" repros", though I stayed away from the live stuff. And I did actually get around to buying some Black Angels stuff I didn't have. So there was that.

But really, at the end of the day, it's all kind of silly. The false scarcity and silly collector's editions and whatnot are, in my not so humble opinion, some of the worst aspects of the music biz. They do nothing other than trivialize the music, which is what it is supposed to be about, I think.

Let me tell you though what I do like about Record Store Day: seeing the stores packed. Sure, it's a herd of folks grabbing at those exclusives, but ultimately, they are putting money in the cash drawers at some of the few record stores we have left. Who knows? Maybe this one day could mean the difference between paying bills and getting evicted for a store?

But it also kind of gives me pause. If they have to go to all this hype and gimmick to get people in, are record stores still relevant in today's world? I know I've moved a lot of my purchasing to on-line and digital sources for reasons of both price and convenience. Yet I still find myself at the record store, every now and again. I don't think I could imagine life without them completely.

And apparently a lot of other people feel the same way. Both of the stores I went to were packed, and I can't believe they were all eBay scalpers. People weren't just buying the exclusives. There must be something to it that people would stand in the kind of lines I stood in for pieces of plastic with music on them.

So I still think Record Store Day is a bit of a scam, as I do any retail holiday, but at the same time, it does make me appreciate living in a town that can support three independent record stores. Though I don't frequent them as much as I used to, I'm glad they're still around. And, even though it's kind of ridiculous, I'm glad to have this Big Star set sitting in front of me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i agree 100%, it's like going to a record fair. Or being drunk and looking on discogs or ebay when you have a lot of money in your bank account and you own a visa card....