Psst, I heard a Rumour that it’s Record Store Day - Kevin Buckle

Today is Record Store Day, the day fans, record labels and their artists pretend they support record shops.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 7:00 am
90 per cent-plus of debut albums by artists probably sell less on the week of release than Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours in the same week
90 per cent-plus of debut albums by artists probably sell less on the week of release than Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours in the same week

These days Record Store Day is what it is – and that is a bunch of releases mined from the vaults of record companies and anything more recent bands have declined to sell direct to their fan base.

What the day does do is highlight an all-year-round problem in which artists and their labels do all they can to offer incentives to buy directly and not from a shop only on day of release to implore their fans to go out and support their local record shop.

The ubiquitous indie shop-only release normally in a coloured vinyl may give the illusion that support is being shown but if you actually get to see the figures the indies-only version normally lags well behind in sales to that on offer “exclusively” from the band.

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Another blow to shops is when one favoured shop is given its own limited version, often of 500. All that does is take away those sales from all the other shops that have supported an artist throughout their career.

The unexpected chart “success” of some bands this year belies the fact the more established bands are selling only a quarter of the numbers they were doing when far lower down the charts and newer bands have not only achieved their high placing with low figures but often by persuading fans to buy an album several times over.

Now all of this should have left record shops in dire straits, pun intended, but in fact the shrinking market for new releases that indie shops are so often excluded from has more than been replaced by the sales of older artists who are not actively online trying to nail every sale of their back catalogue on Bandcamp.

Another reason the charts have more unexpected high placings for bands than before is that many of the sales of these older albums are not registered, given the plethora of sales platforms there are these days. It is a sad fact I’m sure that 90 per cent-plus of debut albums by artists sell less on the week of release than Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours in the same week.

While this all may sound full of doom and gloom actually the opposite is true and I’ve never enjoyed being in the shop more. Old customers would often return recalling happy times discovering a band because of the shop and it was always nice to hear.

I still get customers returning and yes many do reminisce about the good old days when we were next to the university but I also get younger folk telling me how much they loved a poster they had found in our Grassmarket shop and now while the kids are impressed we stock Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala and The 1975 on vinyl what really makes them happy is the cool T-shirt they discovered.

Avalanche: making people that little bit happier since 1984.