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Record Store Day: The aftermath

Waiting outside Flashback in north London on Record Store Day

Waiting outside Flashback in north London on Record Store Day

Record Store Day can be a little like Christmas. Lots of build-up and anticipation as you get excited about what you might ‘get’ and then a slight anti-climatic feeling when it’s all over, mixed with a small dose of resentment about how everyone else ended up with better ‘presents’ than you.

This year was a more satisfying experience for us than 2012. Back then, the shop we were in didn’t have any Kate Bush Lake Tahoe 10-inch picture discs at all, the David Bowie Starman picture disc was also not available, and Paul McCartney’s Another Day / Oh Woman Oh Why – the RAM promoting seven-inch – was US only.

This year our record shop of choice, Flashback in North London, had all this year’s releases from the above artists. They also abandoned the the rule of allowing only five items to be purchased before going to the back of the queue, probably as a result of more stock than ever being available. Good news, if not great for the wallet. You were still not allowed to buy duplicates though, which is as it should be. The other thing about Flashback is that they don’t open until 10am on Record Store Day. On the face of it an annoyingly late start, but actually rather sensible because it doesn’t force you to get there too early be in with a chance of getting hold of what you want. The person at the head of the queue arrived a 6am, and we were there around 7.45am – still a respectable seventh in line.

Duran Duran / Is There Something I Should Know blue vinyl

Getting the Record Store Day items you want is often about as easy as a nuclear war… (click to enlarge).

The late start also allows you to savour the ‘buzz’ from around the UK as everyone takes to social media uploading pictures of the mayhem and crowds outside Rough Trade, or giving you a feel for what is selling out fastest, or proving tough to get hold of.

After some complimentary biscuits were brought out to the growing queue at around 9.30am, we eventually filed in at 10am. All the stock was kept behind the counter and you just asked for what you wanted from the lists that had been handed out. It was a fairly slick operation with a large amount of staff communicating well – shouts along the lines of “any McCartney left?” and “No more Kate Bush” could be heard regularly.

With the exception of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood shaped picture disc we picked up most of what we wanted. It’s interesting to compare the quality of the product and the effort some labels go to with their Record Store Day releases. EMI’s Duran Duran seven-inch didn’t have an inner sleeve, Sony’s David Bowie white vinyl did. The Marianne Faithfull Broken English original mix LP was both coloured vinyl and numbered. The Factory Records 10-inch from Rhino was neither. A special mention should go to Fire Records. Not content with producing only 1000 copies of the Giant Giant Sand Return To Tucson vinyl, they created an even more limited edition of only 100 copies that boasted a hand screen-printed hessian sleeve, with hand-numbered download card. These were randomly scattered – golden ticket style – around Europe.

Giant Giant Sand / Return To Tucson LP

Giant Giant Sand / Return To Tucson LP – ultra limited (100) on the left – ‘standard’ version (1000 of them) on the right (click to enlarge)

Some of the prices were ridiculous. We bought two out of the three Bowie issues but refused to spent £13.99 on the seven-inch picture disc of Drive-in Saturday. The US /UK cost differential is even more annoying. A peruse of a few music discussion boards earlier this week enlightened us to the fact that McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed 12-inch was $6.99 in many shops in the US – that’s about £4.60. In the UK it cost £12.99 (almost $20).

Finally, good though Record Store Day is, it would be great to see more major labels in particular release vinyl singles and limited editions in support of album releases as par for the course. It’s all very well Kate Bush releasing great picture discs for two years in a row for RSD, but where was the physical release for Deeper Understanding when Director’s Cut came out in 2011? Why wasn’t Wild Man released on vinyl or CD single in November of that same year for 50 Words For Snow? Maybe a physical CD and vinyl of Bowie’s The Stars (Are Out Tonight), when the single was released in February, could have helped it perform better in the UK charts (it flopped badly).

In short, record collectors and enthusiasts like buying records. Let’s enjoy the novelty of Record Store Day – and accept its limitations – but hope that it encourages labels to release more physical product (particularly around singles) as a matter of course.

Marianne Faithfull / Broken English original mix blue vinyl LP

Marianne Faithfull / Broken English original mix blue vinyl LP (click to enlarge)

Kate Bush / Running Up That Hill 2012 remix RSD 10"

Kate Bush / Running Up That Hill 2012 remix RSD 10″ (click to enlarge)

 

David Bowie / The Stars (Are Out Tonight) white vinyl 7"

The Stars (Are Out Tonight) – white vinyl 7″

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29 responses to Record Store Day: The aftermath

  1. The price difference is annoying. it was £16 or $16 depending on the country for the Pink Floyd 7″! A huge difference. I’ve just been into Beggars in Kingston and they have 20+ Frankie picture discs left. They do mail order if you can’t make it down there.

  2. Tom Gardner says:

    The Bowie picture disc price is all the more galling when the last one came in at £6.99 and the next one “Life On Mars” is on sale at one shop for £5.99.

    For me the worst example of the US/UK price differential was the Ringo Starr box – $30 in the US and up to £60 over here. 3 singles for £60? Someone needs to get their act together.

    Then there was the Garbage debacle. The band go online to warn UK buyers no discs will be available on the Saturday but you can get them on Monday. On Monday record company apparently sends out e-mail stating all existing orders are cancelled and a new on sale date is set for 13th May.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      £60 for three singles is silly. That Factory 10″ record is supposedly having more stock come in later this week!

  3. Graham Yapp says:

    In Worcester UK All items certainly over priced £13 for the Bowie ‘Drive In Saturday’ and £15 Pink Floyd’s ‘See Emily Play’.
    After queueing for 35 minutes i left my cash in my wallet

  4. Jon C says:

    I hate to say, but this was the first RSD that left a bad taste in my mouth. At least here in San Francisco, it was ALL about the collectibles and not about the record store at all. Case in point, Amoeba Records up here in the Haight had a ridiculously long checkout line circling around the store (this is a former bowling alley, so you can imagine just how friggin’ LONG that line is), where everyone was snagging all the goodies then scampering away. Meanwhile, Rasputin Records, a used store just a block away and didn’t have any of the collectibles, was dead empty.
    I don’t have a problem with the collectibles or the people rushing to buy them…I just think that people running RSD are kind of losing focus on what the day is about.

  5. Steve Marine says:

    My biggest complaint about Record Store Day is that they almost never release any of these exclusives on CD. I understand vinyl has become popular again, but I don’t care! I want my CDs!!! (Plus – this year at least – every single item I was interested in wasn’t available in the US!)

  6. Shaun says:

    Things weren’t that cheap in the U.S. either. But I chose my shop poorly as well. They jacked the prices way up. They got one copy of the Drive in Saturday picture disc and everyone wanted it until they found out it was $40! Then they passed it around until it ended up left on shelf, which was hilarious.

    I have to agree with Jon C and I think I’m crossing over into the other camp of folks who feel RSD is becoming a bit of a sham. It was started with the best intentions but is just getting silly and greedy.

  7. Johnny says:

    I was disappointed not to get the Ringo box set but saved myself £52:99 in the process, so not all bad.

    I did shell oy £13:99 for “See Emily Play” and £6:99 for “John Smith and the Common Men” and thought that was enough.

    Trouble is that a lot of this stuff is now on ebay at extortinate prices, so makes the whole Record Store Day a bit pointless now.

  8. William England says:

    …and it’s the rampant overpricing which takes us right back to why people stopped shopping in Record Stores and went online in the first place … and not just for RSD either – I mean £15.99 for The Rolling Stones Black and Blue cd in HMV (no extra tracks, no deluxe packaging, no nothing) or Amazon for £5 inc delivery… which would you choose?

    • Norman says:

      Amazon sell at below cost in the UK on most things. Cost price to dealers on Black and Blue from Universal is £7.95 plus VAT . . do the maths.
      HMV have wages and rents, Amazon are loose with taxes . . .
      Goodbye choice and somewhere you can browse – no wonder we have so few shops left.

  9. Herman says:

    It is a bit mental actually.
    Different releases for different territories (hence a lot of the price differences, because some of the stuff in the UK will have been coming in from importers, and the same for the States – the physical stock was arriving in the shops at least a week and a half before), greed, random stock, strange eligibility.
    A really wonderful idea initially, but flawed in its niaivity; for instance if you are a Porcupine Tree fan (and there’s a lot of committed fans out there and you don’t live anywhere near a Record SHOP) Steven Wilson’s Luminol appeared around Saturday lunchtime on eBay, and come Sunday there were multiple copies on there for around £35+. It was retailing in shops for around the £16 mark.
    It has gone beyond being a fan’s thing, and is now an eBay shark thing.
    Oh, and there appears to be a fair amount of stock left over this year as it is now appearing on European wholesale sites . . .
    I desperately want to like it, but can’t be arsed . . .

  10. Matthew James says:

    I wish that my record store would have instituted a five-item only rule on the first pass, judging from the loads that the first folks out the door were carrying. That would make sure that people are only going for the items they really want. I fully agree with Steve’s point about the lack of CDs. Every year I hear someone say, “There’ll be more titles next year,” and I no longer believe that. For those CDs that were there, there’s no innovation in packaging to give the pretense of collectibility. It’s clear that, RSD or not, vinyl serves the same purpose as overpriced CDs in the age before digital downloads: price gouging.

    Let me offer another suggestion: a Cyber Monday with a lottery that resells unsold stock, since it’s inevitable that the distribution of titles will be off. It amazes me that someone will say that their store sold out of something in minutes, while that same title is available on Sunday elsewhere–often several copies remain. I would have folks sign up for the lottery at the store, so people still have to go to a brick and mortar to be eligible.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It does seem quite vinyl-centric I agree. I also think they need to work harder with the audio. I think every Record Store Day item should have something either VERY rare or unreleased. How hard would it have been for Kate Bush to unearth and master a previously unreleased alternate mix of Running Up That Hill for the B-side of that picture disc. How many Kate Bush fans who are after the RSD release need Walk Straight Down The Middle on there? The prices are high, so why not give value with something genuinely interesting?

  11. simon says:

    Both releases on the Trojan Desmond Dekker releases were previously unreleased. It was the only item I travelled 20 miles and queue an hour and half for, with my eye on the prize! Well chuffed!

  12. Michel says:

    I agree with Steve: more cds please!! I don’t care about vinyls even though I bought a few 7″ picture discs on RSD, I would have loved a few cds.
    So the only reason that RSD exists now is price increase on items that would have cost less on any other day…a few have brought the subject of the Bowie 7″ and I totally agree, it was double the price than the other picture discs not sold on RSD.
    Furthermore, I only had one participating store to go to where I live, the other one that was supposed to participate was not…was this to attract people on that day? Should I report this store?

  13. Disco says:

    Last year was my one and only RSD. I will never go again. Three shops in my area didn’t have what I wanted (either ordered it, sold out, or was “reserved” by employees). There was no parking, stores were ridiculously crowded, and employees were acting like complete jerks.

    I can only imagine the pandemonium that will ensue in subsequent years.

  14. Kiki says:

    Hi Folks !
    We ran the same thing in France (You know the country where people don’t like music – that’s a fact).
    Things are not easy to do if you’re not 3 or 4 people to get around the biggest shops and you nearly have to run around 2 or 3 towns to search for these gemms…
    I’m nearly happy about this record store day .. the main thing is that it seems that no shops were interested in the 10″ of OMd’s single… Now it gets around 45€ on the web!!!
    I finally manage to get some good things : Kate Bush, Skip The use, Simple minds (I missed the past year’s single!), Placebo’s Ep (you could find them nearly everywhere!) & Royksopp’s… I totally missed the Moby’ 7″, OMD’s 10″… (never seen these ones)
    The idea is to look after the records and for that go in all the shops you know (and the ones you don’t usually go to) . That’s a good idea, but it has its own limits …

    For example, the advertising : People here don’t care about music, so this goes only to people who use to follow their artists… And finally , thinking on my own, I wouldn’t like too many people to know about this event, so that I can get all the records I’d love to!

    Secondly , the rarity of the records : This goes finally only to a small portion of the people who are interested in music, but then again, you might be deceived if you can’t get all your gemms…

    Finally I must admit that it’s quite as enjoying as running after easter eggs when you’re young, but it could be better, if there was more copies of these eggs !!!

  15. Si says:

    I have to say that i am sad that alot of items do appear almost immediately on Ebay. One can only assume the owners of some stores do a bit of profiteering, or many people do it for profit rather than the love of music. I know money is what makes the World go round, but i do always get a bit of a sinking feeling with so much hitting Ebay ASAP with very very high profits. However it is great to see real music, but real artists being promoted & creating excitement in Vinyl and Music … So always mixed feelings about Record Store Days …

  16. Si says:

    Typo ‘by real artists’

  17. Mike says:

    My duran 7″ was picked up on monday from the shop, as the owner held one back for me, but it is a case if who you know, which isnt fair though i know i benefitted. Worse still he sold the other 9 copies and i know there are no others at all in the town who regularly ask him about new dd stuff, ss he always laughs at me. So one can conclude all 9 went on ebay!

  18. Phil Wilson says:

    Items appeared on ebay, with pictures, before the “record store day” had actually started! Someone on Amazon, from Italy, claimed to have 142 of the REM Greensboro CD, I ordered one but it has not been despatched yet so time will tell. A lot of the items do end up on ebay, so I am not sure it serves its purpose, although it gets those people into a record shop once a year!

  19. Leemer says:

    I sincerely wish RSD.com would publish list prices. That is only fair. Everything has a list price. I don’t mind if I pay list, but I want to know that I’m not screwed out of my hard earned money. RSD has a listing of shops that pledge not rip people off, but still list prices would prevent any shenanigans from taking place. Stores will be designated by a “P” beside their name indicating they are a RSD Pledge signed store. The stores with this mark have signed the Record Store Day Pledge, which means they have agreed to act in the spirit of Record Store Day, and sell the commercial Record Store Day releases to their physical customers, on Record Store Day; not to gouge them, or hold product back to sell them online.

    I wonder if an attorney would read that to be interpreted to allow for gouging so long as they don’t hold back product to sell online?

  20. Ymaginatif says:

    I LOVE vinyl – but I hate record store day. It catapults buying records into the realm of hysteria (why?) and generates a slew of extra discography releases for its own sake. It’s like sticking a giant plastic apple into your appletree when you’re worried it’s not producing enough apples any more. It’s killing the record industry even more …

  21. Matt Day says:

    Last year I queued for 2 hours outside Sister Ray in Soho only to leave the queue after two hours with nothing. All sold out of stuff I wanted. I ended up buying the records on eBay which defeats the whole point of RSD. It’s going the same way as buying concert tickets in the UK – people who have no interest other than to make a quick buck ruining it for genuine music fans. This year I was away for RSD and I did not miss the experience one bit. But I have bought all the releases I wanted online to save time… but not money!The number of RSD releases shoved on eBay the same weekend tells me they were not bought by collectors at all. Such a shame!

  22. Bob says:

    Agree with the above comment. RSD has been hijacked by opportunists who are not interested in the actual band/release. The merchandise is immediately sold on at hugely inflated prices, much the same as is done with concert tickets. Again, a lot of the real fans who value these things lose out.

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