The original aim of Record Store Day was very clear and that was to get lapsed customers back into shops – those who had maybe succumbed to the low pricing of the VAT-dodging Amazon An added hope was that new customers attracted by the special releases on offer would return and become new regular visitors.
Online sales would not be allowed and remaining stock from the big day would gradually sell through in the shops. After the first RSD which only had releases in the States it was decided to dilute this stand and allow online sales after two weeks. That gradually was reduced to a week and then to after shops closed on the day.
Hopefully things will go back to a week after RSD before online sales are allowed but it won’t stop some shops ordering far more than they can sell so they can have stock for their online sales when the principle was that shops sold stock that they were surprised not to have sold on the day.
In terms of stock the rule was there had to be at least 500 of a release but of course divided between 200-plus shops that only left a couple each and one of the early issues was people near the front of the queue not getting the release they had waited hours for. Quality control was not at its best and many other releases deemed to have a chance of selling the minimum 500 would only scrape into total sales of double figures.
Of course there didn’t have to be 500 and numbers in the low thousands for very popular releases would strike the right balance. Unfortunately as record companies got greedy the amount available became greater and greater, enabling those who wanted to to stock up for their online sales.
One problem that occurred from the start was that the releases did not suit all shops, especially dance shops, so there quickly became the added anomaly of shops selling things that they would never stock any other time of the year.
Sadly after only a few years it became obvious that the laudable aim of creating regular customers from those queueing on RSD was never going to happen as those keen enough to arrive hours early were also exactly the people who would be buying any future release online directly from their favourite artists.
For some shops it is a welcome cash injection though for others who get their ordering wrong it can be a millstone around their neck as RSD releases that don’t sell really don’t sell often at any price.
I suspect that beyond waiting a week before selling online there is no going back now and the vast majority of RSD customers will be fans who will buy their next release directly from the band even if a shop has it.
Of course we sell a lot of T-shirts and prints these days so maybe next year as well as bringing back the in-stores on RSD we can do some special RSD merchandise too!