So ordinarily this is probably a topic I’d save for one of my Youtube videos, but as I was doing the raw recording today I realized that it just wasn’t coming together the way I’d like it to. This is for one main reason, and that’s because there are just way too many details I’d like to mull over instead and leave open for comment/discussion for fellow vinyl lovers and enthusiasts. I just couldn’t meander around in a video in a way that was going to work right for me, so instead we’re going to go through this route.
Anyway, I came into Record Store Day 2013 with a heavy dosage of mixed feelings. Last year had a lot of pretty fun stuff, and I had a rather decent success rate picking up the vinyl that I wanted. This time around there were a few “promising” choices, but nothing that screamed for me to be out the door and first in line come April 20th. Nevertheless I’m always eager to support my favorite record shop(Angry Mom Records in Ithaca NY), so I managed to get my morning-hating body out of bed and down into the thick of things about a half hour into the action. Not the ideal time really, but with any luck I was hoping to scout out some Elliott Smith, Black Keys, Justin Townes Earle, Sharon Van Etten/Shearwater, and whatever else happened to come about.
Unfortunately even being a half hour into the shop opening for the day meant being the 60th person in line, and by then the whole outing was ALMOST a complete swing and miss. No Black Keys, no Sharon, no Justin, no very much of anything really. Thankfully I was able to snag Elliott Smith as planned, as well as Grizzly Bear’s first album as a completely random yet acceptable alternate. This is all well and good of course, but my main points are these: how many pressings are too few when you’re starting to cater to competition over musical enjoyment, how is the highway robbery that is the re-selling on eBay after the event anything but criminal, and to more specifically address who’s lacking enough pressings, when are the bigger bands that really move records going to start issuing higher amounts to really help out these little independent stores?
I mean in addition to vinyl enthusiast appreciation, the whole purpose of Record Store Day is to help these little shops get a really nice day for business and fresh foot traffic, but the limited amounts and re-selling really seem to do anything but that. Of course the people still come out and that’s going to help no matter what, but to go back to my point about the bigger bands, take Dave Matthews Band for instance. Am I big fan? Not really, but I understand the appeal and why they happen to be as rampantly popular as they are(and have been for quite a while). Needless to say it’s not a broad leap to realize they can move albums, and that having them press something(an expensive $60 something to boot) for RSD would really be a great positive for the shops associated(as well as the fans obviously). Yet what do they do? Issue 500 copies nationwide. NATIONWIDE.
So not only do you invoke the competitive nature of people when it comes to a known rarity, you also have opportunists who are not only going to sweep copies away from fans who will love and appreciate the music, but will also take the little bit of money the independent record shops make and try to quadruple it for themselves. While a little music store could take in a good bit of money if they had more of these box set type of things to sell in a day, eBay slime takes a $60 profit and tries to escalate it into the $300-$400 range.
I mean I feel lucky in that I could acquire a post-RSD copy of the Sharon Van Etten/Shearwater 7-inch I wanted to begin with the day after(at a slightly raised price), but situations like the Dave Matthews Band box set should be unacceptable in the industry. Vinyl is growing each year, this has been an undeniable fact since it’s sales began leveling and expanding upward through each yearly set of quarters. More fans keep filling the crowds each year, and it seems as though the pressing anticipation hasn’t even begun to rise and meet it. Even Justin Townes Earle(who is nowhere near as popular) only had a run of about a 1,000 for his first-time issuing of “Yuma”, and as far as I can tell that hasn’t proven to be enough either.
I love RSD, and I’m only going to continue to go out and support great little businesses like these(and tell anyone I know who’s into records to do it too), but there are fairly evident and obvious gaps in how this system is being conducted. There needs to be a middle ground where the market isn’t being flooded, but where a decent number of people have a chance to acquire and enjoy the music and vinyl they love so much. Make everybody happy here, raise some hell until they start doing just that, and help Record Store Day keeping flourishing well on beyond the horizon. And don’t put out 10 box sets for a billion people to fight over and expect it to end well(or without multiple someone’s getting ripped off).
Anyway, if you want to continue the conversation in actual video form, head over to the following link where you can see my unboxing of both the Grizzly Bear and Elliott Smith records, as well as a mention of the Sharon Van Etten/Shearwater one I do not possess as of yet.