For most people, the big shopping holiday every year is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. For vinyl record fans (and its safe to say prosoundnetwork.com has plenty in its readership), the big day is Record Store Day. For the fifth year running, indie record stores around the world will throw open their doors on Saturday, April 21, to be greeted by throngs of avid record fans, who will be looking for some of the 300+ limited edition releases from artists ranging from the biggest names in the world to bands that even their own members might not have heard of.
Plenty of artists support Record Store Day (RSD)—Bruce Springsteen, The Black Keys, multiple members of Pearl Jam, Iggy Pop, Paul McCartney, Foster The People, Branford Marsalis, Fleetwood Mac, Gorillaz, Of Montreal, Afrika Bambaataa, Pete Townshend, Metallica, Mastodon, The Flaming Lips, M83 and Taking Back Sunday are just a handful of the acts that will be issuing records that day. Here's a complete 9-page pdf of the day’s offerings to start you salivating.
And when we say “limited edition,” we’re not kidding—most of them have production runs of 3,000 or less, and often sport something special, like multi-color vinyl or handmade artwork by the bandmembers themselves.
The catch with all this is that with such limited pressings, not every store will get every record, so you’ll likely have to drive around until you find all your must-haves. To aid with that endeavor, there’s an RSD app (Free; iPhone / Android), listing participating stores, news and contests.
It’s OK, but truthfully, if you’re a vinyl hound, the app you really want to get is The Vinyl District (Free; Apple / Android), which will aid your record hunting throughout the other 364 days a year. It features a far more extensive database of indie record stores around the world, using the GPS features on your phone to help you get to them; a must-read blog; social media aspects that you’ll never use; and more. I’ve had this since it debuted last fall, and it’s killer, especially if you’re in a new place with a few hours to kill. Open the Vinyl District app and you’ll be browsing through a nearby shop in no time.
One of the latest additions to the Vinyl District app is its listing of record fairs across the U.S.—which will be key if (when) you don’t find all those records you wanna get your hands on during RSD. It’s safe to say that all the vinyl you miss will either wind up on eBay or at a nearby record fair within days (heck, the bi-annual Brooklyn Record Riot will be held at Greenpoint’s Warsaw club the next day, April 22, and no doubt a few copies of hipster RSD releases like Sigur Ros’ Hvarf-Heim���2 LPs, colored vinyl, only 1,250 made worldwide—will wind up there).
All of this is a marked change of pace from the usual ‘find it for free online’ music collector mentality. The download generation is among the heaviest buyers in the current vinyl resurgence (which we’ve blogged about in-depth before), and Nielsen Soundscan recently reported that U.S. vinyl sales were over 3.9 million last year, a gain of 39.3 percent over the previous year. Of course, all this is a drop in the bucket compared to CD and legal download sales, but it’s always welcome to see a corner of the music business that’s actually growing in the face of piracy. Actually, wait—those days might be over, because some folks are pirating vinyl records at home too.
Regardless, RSD is a lot of fun to check out, plus you'll be helping support local businesses that keep a community thriving. If you haven't been record shopping outside outside of iTunes or a big-box store in a while, not to worry—you'll slip right into the old habit. To help set the mood, here's the classic 1980 power-pop paean to record collecting, "I Need That Record," by The Tweeds.