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This Is Record Store Day 2015

Yesterday, the worldwide Record Store Day took place again. This year with American rock legend Dave Grohl as the official ambassador. The annual event makes every record collectors’ heart beat faster.

Importantly there are a lot of special releases to be caught. The 2015 list is gobsmackingly long. However, a lot of the praised records are reissues of already published material. And here the critics start to interact. Also, the factor RSD (Record Store Day) gained within the production calendar of manufactures has been criticized.

Luke Younger (Alter Record Label), stated in a post from Josh Hall for Fact Magazin that

“it means that small labels realistically have one window in the year where they can get a record out without experiencing any delays. I can’t schedule anything anymore, it’s pointless, and when you have to sync digital release dates in advance as well to make sure everything comes out at the same time it’s extremely problematic. It almost forces you to stop running a record label in the traditional sense.”

Tom Lawes (YAM records in London) adds that he and his team are up for supporting small independent labels. Those who helped the format survive in the first place and which very much helped Record Store Day from the beginning on.

Besides, he said that major labels are very welcome to support vinyl records. But, instead of doing this by pressing a lot of them, they would be better off investing in building new pressing plants. In order to ensure the satisfaction of market demands.

Indie Labels helped the vinyl record to survive

UK’s vinyl distributor Kudos complained in a post for the Fact Mag about large quantities of Oasis LP re-issues, ABBA 7inch and REM Box sets, pressed for Record Store Day. This effectively takes away capacity from the already pressurized vinyl press plants. Another factor within the Record Store Day/press plant issue is the minimum pressing requirements of the Entertainment Retailer Association. In case a label wants to contribute to RSD it must provide a minimum of 500 records per release. 

One could argue that this is rather positive for the vinyl record itself since it means a boost in pressing up to the event. However, after the introduction of the CD very few press plants have survived the crack. There isn’t much opportunity to choose from different pressing plants if one has reached its capacity. With the sheer market power of the major labels, they are able to place larger orders at press plants than small indie labels.

There aren’t many pressing plants left to produce for Record Store Day

Wait, you’ll probably think, isn’t RSD all about promoting record stores? Yes, that is very true. But it isn’t called the music “industry” for no reasons. Without labels mastering and producing music, no pressing plant has something to press. And without press plants factoring vinyl records no record store has something to sell. It’s that easy, and it’s not.

With major labels jumping on the bandwagon of the vinyl resurgence, a very fine and neatly balanced system of indie labels and indie record shops is at risk to be thrown out of joint.

Before falling head over heels into this old story of major vs. indie label, there are also good things and ideas to write about.

It’s more than Indie vs. Major Label with the Record Store Day

RSD is still used as an opportunity. Not only to promote record shops but far more to utilize the very quintessential spirit of them. Most people frequently visiting a record shop are doing this for reasons like meeting new people. In other words, getting inspired to hear new music or to think outside the box.

Canadian duo “Tegan and Sara” has just incorporated this in their RSD 2015 appearance. In September 2013 they have recorded a live performance at Zia Record Exchange and made a limited Record Store Day Exclusive Purple Vinyl (12 inch, 45 rpm) in order to catch that moment. Song list: I Was A Fool, Back In Your Head, Goodbye Goodbye, Call It Off. The duo also designed a special tote bag for vinyl shoppers at Record Store Day. 

Vinyl distributor Kudos also makes a good point in bringing up the idea of a maximum pressing requirement for Record Store Day instead of a minimum requirement. With doing so, more equality of opportunity would be ensured. Also, the pressure would be lifted a bit of the press plants.

But even without Record Store Day, the demand for vinyl records is hugely growing. If nobody is going to invest in new press plants, the hype could be over before it even really started.

Record Store Day is growing

After the disastrous handling of MP3’s invention and in this consequence, digital downloads, the music industry is again at risk of losing the game. But if you lose something like the vinyl record, what else would be left?

Isn’t the vinyl record the very last field where purchase decisions are mainly made over being a fan, for the music and the medium? In a world hugely affected by digitalization and its rapid consumption of artistic material and music, a loss like that could leave the music industry without its very base. The people, the fans, and even a medium to sell.

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