Gather ’round, children, and hear a story about the good old days. Once upon a time, music didn’t just fly through the air to your computer or iPod (neither of them existed, for that matter). Back in the dark ages, like the 1970s, music came on big black discs called ‘albums’ that played on something called a ‘stereo.’
And there were giant stores called ‘record stores,’ where we went to buy those albums if we wanted to make that music our own.
Around here, that meant that everyone who was anyone had at least one giant wooden Peaches crate full of records to show off and share with friends. We guarded them carefully against heat and scratches. When you were tired of them, it was time for a trip to Tiger Records to trade them for something different. Hang out in the stores and browse records, and you were almost guaranteed to run into friends, or someone that you wanted for a friend. Record stores were practically a way of life.
And that’s what Record Store Day is celebrating today. It’s a party for the real life, brick-and-mortar independent record stores.
Participating stores must be a physical retailer, their product line must be at least 50% music retail, the company cannot be publicly traded, and the ownership must be at least 70% located in the state of operation.
Record labels have gotten into the spirit of the party by offering special releases exclusively for the event. A complete list is available at the Record Store Day website, but remember that we’re talking independent stores that make their own decisions about what they’ll carry, so not all releases will be available at all stores. If your heart is set on one of them, you might be well served to call your favorite store and ask. Some stores will have DJs or live music, and all sorts of deals and specials.
Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity, may have said it best. “Yes, yes, I know. It’s easier to download music, and probably
cheaper. But what’s playing on your favorite download store when you walk into it? Nothing, that’s what. Who are you
going to meet in there? Nobody. Where are the notice boards offering flatshare and vacant slots in bands destined for superstardom? Who’s going to tell you to stop listening to that and start listening to this? Go ahead and save yourself a couple of quid. The saving will cost you a career, a set of cool friends, musical taste, and, eventually, your soul. Record stores can’t save your life. But they can give you a better one.”