Years ago the local independent record store was a fixture of just about every neighborhood and town. Then came the big chain stores, with big selections and big trendy spaces and lower prices that drove many independents out of business.
Then the digital revolution sank the big chains too, leaving music lovers nowhere to go but online. End of story. Right?
Well, no. Many indie record stores went out of business, it’s true, but you can still find quite a few around the country and around the world. Since 2007 they’ve banded together to publicize and promote their continued vitality and “celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities.”
That quote comes from the Record Store Day website. Because once a year the whole music business takes special note of the plain fact that record stores are still with us. And that special annual occasion is Record Store Day.
Record Store Day 2014 arrives this Saturday, April 19. Shops all over the world take part. Here at Blogcritics we receive press releases by the trunkful, literally hundreds every weekday, and for the past month or two many of these have announced promotions by labels and bands around Record Store Day. Many special music releases and events are timed for this week to take advantage of the publicity. In New York City where I live, no fewer than 24 stores take part.
Lest you think Record Store Day is the exclusive province of “underground” hipster bands from Brooklyn and the pale-faced vinyl-heads who obsess over their recordings – the John Cusack in High Fidelity type – a glance at some of the major artists involved – everyone from One Direction to REM to the Ghostbusters Theme – and major label records coming out specifically for Record Store Day this year will convince you otherwise.
- Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chuck D is this year’s Record Store Day “ambassador.”
- Jack White will be recording, pressing and selling a new single, from start to finish, on Record Store Day 2014.
- A special amber vinyl version of The Doors’ Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine is coming out for Record Store Day this year.
- Cage the Elephant, Kings of Leon, Deer Tick, Bobby Rush, and Steve Earle all have new Record Store Day releases this year.
- A blue vinyl 7-inch of Dolly Parton’s new single “Blue Smoke” hits the shelves this Record Store Day.
So stop by your local record store and absorb the vibe – and then come back when it’s not Record Store Day, so these places can stay in business and keep doing what they do so well: keeping music about the personal and not just the purse.