Kevin Buckle: What’s going on with Record Store Day?

It seems like every week is 'limited edition vinyl reissue week'. Picture: Ian Rutherford
It seems like every week is 'limited edition vinyl reissue week'. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Although these days I’m not a fan of Record Store Day – the annual gathering of more than 200 independent record shops – and haven’t been for some years, I did think that this year’s list of releases was the best I’ve seen.

I was initially therefore surprised at the fairly muted reaction this year to the recent big announcement of the list.

However soon it became clear that since every week is “limited edition vinyl reissue week” these days, the novelty is simply not there any more. What has certainly helped the list is the lack of dodgy live albums and unnecessary seven inches and I’m told this year, for what must be the first time, many proposed titles were actually refused.

Having said all that there were still 499 titles when I checked and though already a few have been pulled that is definitely a few hundred too many. Another issue used to be that cool indie shops who wouldn’t stock all these old reissues would once a year suddenly waive such notions in return for the cash. There are still a few shops that haven’t succumbed but most now have to stock the endless wave of reissued vinyl just to survive and for many of the new shops that have sprung up that is actually their thing.

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What is probably a good thing is that the numbers of the more desirable titles being pressed have also increased. The old days of 500 of a highly sought-after title only being available have gone and that certainly solves the problem of shops only getting one or two of something and then spending the rest of the day explaining to customers that the title has sold out.

It will also deter those buying to simply resell for more, which has always been an unfortunate side issue with Record Store Day. The only possible downside to greater availability is that while I was never keen on the queues there is certainly no harm in titles selling out by the end of the day and in fact that was one of the original aims.

The idea that you had to make the effort to come along on the day but if you did you would get what you wanted was always the perfect scenario. It was of course meant to be a celebration of record shops but that was lost early on as the media decided it was a celebration of vinyl and now as I say with vinyl reissued every week it may be time to reinvent the day, though understandably those shops that make so much money from the day may not want to risk killing the golden goose.

The lead on all things Record Store Day comes from America and I doubt they will change things so it would be up to the UK to lead the way, though quite how I’m not sure.

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The biggest problem is that for all the “support” artists and labels give to shops, they don’t actually want to give up anything they have better use for themselves so it is very hard to come up with a list of more current artists which obviously would be a start in any revamp.

At the same time, there has been a feeling for some time that vinyl will soon reach its peak and while this has, if I’m honest, been predicted for a while now, it will happen eventually and once the downward slide starts nobody is sure where it will end or where that will leave Record Store Day.

As nobody has probably said before, a year is a long time in a record shop, so I don’t think anybody will be thinking about Record Store Day 2019 for a good while yet.