I that time of the year again when folk are reminded to support record shops by buying limited vinyl.
For a few years record shops were almost forgotten about, despite the name, and many articles on Record Store Day spoke of nothing but supporting vinyl, but now at least the shops seem to be getting a look in again.
Having said that, what has always been forgotten and continues to be is the quality of the music. There is always very little in the way of music from new bands or even new music from old bands and often what is on offer from older bands is at best interesting but hardly essential except for the fan who needs everything.
There are less obvious dodgy releases this year, those live punk albums and novelty records, but that, I suspect, was more down more to sheer numbers than anything else. The organisers try to keep the number of releases down to 500, but such is the clamour to be involved that requests to be involved have far exceeded that number this year.
Certainly I would always recommend supporting shops and new music and it is a pity that those two things often don’t coincide these days. But while vinyl as a format has much to recommend it, in itself it has no value.
Simply buying something because it is on vinyl would be daft, as it is of course the music that matters.
Some would argue that not all ‘record shops’ are particularly deserving of support, being a far cry from what a good record shop should be and certainly a coffee shop with a few boxes of records is quite different to a shop relying solely on music sales. But then it wasn’t that long ago that second hand shops which dabbled in stocking some new stock were seen as being completely different to ‘new’ record shops and yet now that is a model widely accepted.
Of course virtually all the artists, labels and record companies that ‘support’ record shops with product for Record Store Day will go back the next week trying to take as much business as possible from those shops by selling directly to fans and in most cases will offer incentives to stop fans going into shops in the form of an exclusive not available on the high street.
For most labels, shops are just a small part of their marketing strategy and while individual shops may be supported by individual bands the overall message is not a good one for shops.
My own opinion has always been that shops supporting new music and new bands do a job the internet has just not successfully managed to replicate.
Don’t get me wrong I can see how shops working with an artist and using social media and all the other options that are available can maximise exposure for that artist, but why on earth for instance would an influential shop retweet a YouTube video that has a bio saying buy directly from the artist/label we have something you can’t buy in a shop!
It isn’t just artists and labels, of course, customers have to ask themselves if they really support shops or actually just turn up on the rare occasions a shop has something they can’t get elsewhere.
It is hard to blame folk from buying online directly when they have no option and my own thoughts on the matter have always been that all concerned should have identical releases available at the same time for the same price and then the customer can choose.
A level playing field, though, seems to be something that many fear and of course some shops regularly try to gain advantage over others only compounding the problem.
I suspect that by Record Store Day 2019 the music world will be a very different place and whether that includes the start of the decline of vinyl is unclear but it does seem like an inevitable eventual outcome that will sound the death knell for ‘vinyl shops’ if not record shops.
Record Store Day is on Saturday April 21
Fab classic Sixties tracks go on box-set
Much excitement this week as I finally got to announce the reissue of the seminal Scars album Author! Author! on vinyl.
Complete with the original inner bag and with a bonus four-track, seven-inch and 16-page full colour booklet, it is something we have been working on for a while and follows on the back of the TV21 double vinyl that was announced a little while ago.
One of the many side projects that has been made possible by all the work that has been done on the ScotPop Exhibition Centre - as the History of Scottish Pop Music Exhibition Centre has been abbreviated - there is much more to come and hopefully it is just the start of many releases in a schedule that accesses some great bands and their music from before and after the post punk period the first two releases come from.
Already the increased profile for Scottish music given by the pop-up exhibition last June at the Fruitmarket Gallery has led to the Edinburgh Sixties beat group the Athenians being included on the recently announced FAB GEAR six- CD box-set on Cherry Red of Sixties beat music and I currently have a backlog of queries and requests that I am slowly working through though. Of course, with no funding or cash sponsorship it is still being done as a labour of love.
Quite what will happen once the National Museum of Scotland’s Rip It Up exhibition starts in June I’ve no idea as that has already generated a fair number of enquiries too, though I have had to point out that I don’t know the full content of the exhibition and really only have detail on the parts I helped with one way or another and even on that I’m sworn to secrecy!
As usual, you can find more info on the Scars and TV21 releases on the Avalanche site as well as a full track listing for the FAB GEAR box set.