This Saturday marks the fifth Record Store Day - an internationally celebrated event, a chance for independent music stores to offer some in-store performances, discounts and competitions. A chance for music fans to pop into their local and say hi, be part of the community.
Record Store Day is a lot of fun - I've popped down to my local/s every year and made sure I picked up a record or two. Not that much of an arm-bending task on a Saturday morning or afternoon. A leisurely stroll and a chance to mingle in the store, to enjoy an extended browse, to chat with staff, to catch up with other musically minded lost souls - you can join us, or you can mock us. It's fine either way.
Record Store Day also brings with it a slew of special releases - unfortunately for the New Zealand stores it's getting harder to guarantee stock. Part of the point of Record Store Day is to turn up and see what is there on the day, but of course now with the list of releases published well in advance, there are desperate emails and calls from frenzied music fans hoping to order a slice of the action early.
My understanding is that, as with other years, some of the special releases will make their debut for Record Store Day and will be available as a general release later on. But maybe part of the need to buy it on the day is to take it straight home and list it on TradeMe or eBay. Anyway, all of the stores I talked to around the country were unsure as to what they would have from the list - but orders (where possible) have been placed (between the stores and the suppliers; not direct customer orders). And it's a bit of a first-in/first-served scenario. Turn up on the day and see what's there. Or don't. Your call.
My local is Slow Boat Records - so I'll be putting down there (come and say hi. Or don't). The Eversons will be playing, as will Dictaphone Blues. A couple of great acts with excellent new albums. There will be prize draws and giveaways and there's been a recent shipment of vinyl to the store so the shelves will be brimming. For more see the store's website and they have a Facebook page and Record Store Day event page at Facebook that you can join and like and comment on. Or not.
Evil Genius is located out from the main city - I wrote about the store here. I will do my best to get out there for part of Record Store Day as they have an in-store from Tono & The Finance Company. I think Tono is one of New Zealand's great songwriters right now. I thoroughly recommend the band's album. They will be playing in Wellington at Bodega on Saturday night.
Also new to Wellington - well, in terms of Record Store Days, is Rough Peel Music. I'll be popping in there too. I like the store and I've found a few gems there. They have the Facebook event page happening.
The Vinyl Countdown in New Plymouth will be celebrating the day and you can check them out on the Facebook also. The store's owner tells me that a bunch of new vinyl has landed in time for the day. Of course that sounds like the thing to say - but I saw a photo. So I believe it. If I ever find myself in New Plymouth again, and chances are I won't be lucky enough to escape it, I do hope to at least visit that store.
Also on my list of stores to visit - and one that I won't make on Record Store Day but do hope to get to before the end of the year - is Southbound Records, a new-ish store in Mt Eden, Auckland. I like these guys; I like their philosophy, their passion and their stock. These are people that know about music, care about music and are in it for the right reasons.
They'll have storewide discounts, free Gravity coffee, some of the Record Store Day special releases - do check their website for details on what they might have and updates on when some of the other stock is arriving. And they're offering a special deal on the documentary film, I Need That Record!
I re-watched the film just the other day; call it part of my preparation, my training leading up to Saturday's big event. It's a well-intentioned film, even if it gets a little bogged down in trying to decide if it's a film in support of independent record stores or violently opposed to the changes that have taken place in music across the last decade. Or both. That said, it's a great wee summary of events and it features some really cool talking heads (including Chris Frantz! And several musicians who weren't part of Talking Heads as well).
I like Record Store Day. I like that it exists.
I worked in a few music stores back in one of my other lives. I like to think I helped a few people, gave some good service, maybe some advice. I certainly learned a lot from some of the passionate, knowledgeable customers who became my regulars. And from many of the staff members I shared a counter with.
I don't think record stores are owed an existence - I don't feel sad when I hear about stores that didn't cut the mustard closing. Sure, people need jobs but if you're not meeting the market then you need to find out a way to do that.
But I do think that a great shopping experience in a store you love, with people you know and a product you're excited about is a good time. A very good time. And it's one that is fading, disappearing slowly. We're convinced we need things now so that makes ordering online easy. That's very practical in a lot of cases but music-buying is a luxury. So why not take the time and bask in it? I believe it should be about as luxurious as standing around in a hoodie in a store filled with other no-hopers can be.
Consider Record Store Day the big warm bubble-bath then.
So soak in it. Or don't. But it's happening this weekend. And I like it. I'm looking forward to it. And maybe you are too. Please share your plans - if you have them - for where you'll be visiting and what you hope to buy. And if you own a store, or have a local store that you visit and you know about their activities and plans for the day please post information (including links) below.
What do you think of Record Store Day? A good idea? A bit of fun? Cause for celebration? Or do you not get on board with it at all?
And what will you be doing this Saturday in terms of music-browsing and buying? Where will you be going? What will you be checking out?
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