I am someone who is a big fan of Record Store Day (hence this blog) and I am also someone who is passionate about vinyl. I want stores to succeed and I also want people to be able to purchase the items that they go into stores to buy. With that being said, with the 6th Record Store Day behind us, here are some things that I personally feel could make the day better. Feel free and comment/suggest other ideas of your own.
SUGGESTION #1 (Release Window Before/After RSD):
Labels need to curb releases the week before and after Record Store Day. This year, stores were not only obligated to spend copious amounts of money to buy Record Store Day product, but also the releases for the Monday (UK) or Tuesday (US/Canada) before and after Record Store Day.
Releases on 4/16/13 included acts such as Major Lazer, Iron & Wine, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Django Unchained Soundtrack, The Thermals, Flaming Lips, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Simple Minds, Punch Brothers, Paramore, Willie Nelson, Ghost B.C., and several more.
Releases on 4/23/13 included acts such as Bob Marley, Frank Turner, Junip, Phoenix, Rob Zombie, Smoke Fairies, Snoop Lion, and several more.
In addition, labels also need to try to avoid any online pre-orders of upcoming releases (May/June/July) around Record Store Day, as it could hinder your ability to get the most consumers, as a lot of people are forced to save money due to the obnoxious number of releases continuing to increase each year.
SUGGESTION #2 (Pressing Information is a Joke):
Honest and full transparency when it comes to pressing information. There have been far too many releases for Record Store Day with a pressing number posted in a press release, artist website, or recordstoreday.com that is just absurdly inaccurate. When a boxset is supposedly individually numbered to 1000 copies and you receive a box that is #1259, you lost credibility and have now created confusion for the consumer.
In addition, I am sick of the labels/distributors “magically finding” Record Store Day stock weeks after the fact. Several stores that I follow on Facebook, gloriously posted about how they were able to “find” additional stock of RSD items….most of which sold out at the store on Record Store Day. Why can the labels/distributors just not have their shit together and ensure everything is sent out (minus holding back maybe 10-25 copies for damage/lost packages) so consumers can actually buy the items when intended?
This would be akin to going to your local AMC Theater to watch Iron Man 3 and then when you get to the theater they tell you that “we didn’t get in the movie reel to show the movie, but we may be able to get it next week”. Well that’s great, but I am here NOW to watch the movie NOW, not next week. Same thing here. I am shopping at your store on Record Store Day NOW to buy the items NOW, not when some UPS box decides to shop up 2 weeks later with a 7” box set that you didn’t get in originally. That defeats the point and purpose of Record Store Day and it also shows that items are horded and not fully distributed fairly prior to Record Store Day. Because if they were, then these labels/distributors, sure as hell wouldn’t have as much stock to be shipped out to several stores ALL OVER THE US.
SUGGESTION #3 (Direct 2 Consumer—Let us Know):
Honest and full transparency when it comes to labels holding back stock to sell RSD items online. I have no problem with this tactic and in fact have taken part and saved a lot of money doing this. I would just like labels to pre-announce that they will be selling their RSD release sometime after Record Store Day. When I see Roadrunner records selling over 200 copies each of the Dio/Killswitch Engage and Deep Purple/Type O Negative singles on April 23rd then I wonder if the pressing number posted is accurate and took into account that there were 200 less copies available on Record Store Day in stores, so they could be sold online.
Again, with over 400 releases, Record Store Day is turning into a clusterfuck. The ability to afford and find the items you want are getting more difficult. If I knew that Becausesoundmatters.com was going to have both Avenged Sevenfold RSD releases, or that KRS was going to put the Elliott Smith 7” online, then I can plan accordingly and not feel bummed out or stressed out by not finding it on Record Store Day, since I knew I had a 2nd chance to find it. But by holding back and being secretive regarding these online Direct to Consumer strategies, it makes it appear that stock is being horded and the plan to sell these is very calculated and decided well in advance. Just keep us in the loop, would that be such a bad thing?
SUGGESTION #4 (Cash Grab/Price Point issues):
Record Store Day is becoming a cash grab. I have rarely had an issue with price points until Record Store Day 2013. One example that I will point out is the Coheed & Cambria Afterman Descension Demos LP. Now back on Black Friday (November 2012), we had a similar release by Coheed & Cambria. Limited to 1000 copies, the Afterman Ascension LP was pressed on clear vinyl. I paid $15.99 for that demo LP at my local record store. In April, just a mere 6 months after Black Friday, I paid $20.99 for the Afterman Descension clear vinyl LP, that was on clear vinyl and limited to 2500 copies. So 1500 more copies were pressed (aren’t we told that the more an item is produced, the cheaper per unit cost it is supposed to be?). Using the price sheet from Gotta Groove Records (140g colored vinyl), the price per LP would have been $2.41 whereas for Black Friday it would have been $2.80. So why the $3-5 increase (as other stores had the Coheed LP anywhere from $17.99-$20.99)
The price discrepancies between stores was dependent upon them being able to go direct with labels versus a distributor. Somehow, we have to get some sort of pricing structure setup for Record Store Day releases. So pretty much it doesn’t matter if you go to a store in California, Texas or New York, you are paying the same basic price. It is the same principle about seeing a CD at Amazon, Best Buy or Target…..if all 3 of those stores listed insane crazy price variants, then you’d start to wonder what was going on. Sadly, this is happening on Record Store Day and some stores are forced to buy from a distributor and some stores, just out of greed, try to milk and extra dollar or two, because they know that traffic/demand will be high and they can get away with it.
But if labels/distributors worked together to where everyone was profitable and could get product to stores at a capped/fixed price point, then everyone would benefit. How that would be accomplished is beyond me, but it is just frustrating to see you go into one store and buy a 7” single for Record Store Day for $7.99 and see the same single in another store blocks away for $10.99. People should not feel like they got ripped off on Record Store Day, that is not the point of the day, but some of these pricing methods leave a bad taste in your mouth and needs to be addressed.
SUGGESTION #5 (Major Labels taking over RSD/# of Releases too many):
Record Store Day is being homogenized by the major labels. Part of the idea of Record Store Day is to give the smaller, independent labels a chance to release items to create awareness for up and coming artists or the label itself. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for smaller labels to do this and participate, when major labels account for nearly 70% of the total RSD releases. Larger independent labels have also started to shrink their releases (e.g. Sub Pop, Merge) because the spirit of Record Store Day is starting to become too capitalistic. Part of the problem is the incessant need to keep increasing the number of releases each year. I still don’t understand how having over 300 releases hitting on a single day makes sense. Our economy is still struggling, people are sacrificing more and more to make ends meet, yet we are going to trumpet the fact that 400 items are being released on a given day? When people have to start cutting back on food/gas to afford buying items for Record Store Day (people have posted as much in forums), then we have a problem. If a label is just going to do a mirrored/windowed release and the only difference in the release is a gold foil stamp with a number on it, how about you just DON’T DO IT? Just release it when you planned to and not go for the RSD cash grab. You aren’t really providing any value add to the consumer, other than being able to buy it early. Who cares. That would have saved us at least 50 releases in April right there! But instead of just dumping release after release, re-issue after re-issue—how about taking the time to create a core batch of QUALITY releases (not saying there aren’t any quality releases, but if *all* of them were, then it’d make it more worthwhile). I am sure if you were to poll the average music fan for Record Store Day, they’d prefer around 125 quality, audiophile rare releases versus 400 releases that is a hodgepodge of quality and variety.
If we don’t do anything to curb the number of releases, then stores won’t be able to afford to participate in RSD. Stores can’t be expected to continuously go over $20K in debt every April, just for a historic sales day that may or may not even get them out of debt.
Again, I love Record Store Day. I love what is promotes. I love the stores that have benefitted from it. I love some of the releases I’ve been able to buy on Record Store Day. I just think that there are some tweaks that we could make that would benefit all parties involved and continue the tradition.