Record Store Day (RSD) is fast approaching on April 21st. This year’s 11th annual event will be celebrated across every continent in the world (with the exception of Antarctica), and see the participation of more than 240 stores in the UK alone.
It’s easy now to think of RSD as an institution, the independent record store at the heart of any thriving scene. Yet the year of RSD’s inception, 2007, saw the plunge of physical format sales by just under 10%, marking yet another year on year decrease in the seemingly never ending plummet of physical product purchases.
Shops which had long been the focal point for music lovers were closing at a rapid speed, across villages and high streets alike. The combined tsunami of big box retailers wanting to grab a piece of the music industry pie coupled with downloading, streaming and the ubiquitous CD burner available in every personal computer made purchasing a physical piece of music seem not only inconvenient, but arguably antiquated.
Enter Record Store Day, founded by a group of shop owners in the US who were not willing to let the special culture and experience of going to a record store fade away without a serious fight. The success of the event marked a turning point for not only independent stores, but for the vinyl format itself. The rise of new local stores and the renewed interest in the LP seems unbelievable, a fable of David and Goliath proportions; but this comeback, from almost total demise to rightful place on a music-centric throne, seems fitting for one of the last bastions of independent thought and community which can still organically touch all corners of the globe.
The name ‘Record’ instead of ‘music’ in the events title comes from the LP format being the longest lasting manner to listen to music, and arguably the most beloved; hence why it seemed really the only option for the name (plus, ‘Mini-Disc Store Day’ just does not have the same punch). With each year, RSD moved from strength to strength, with 2008 seeing metal icons Metallica play at a hometown store to celebrate the event, which included exclusive releases by massive artists and upstarts alike. The vinyl format was at the heart of not only the name of the event, but as a founding artefact that got many attendees into music in the first place. The renewed interest in it illustrates not only the importance that the independent store plays in our communities, but in the need for a physical representation of our identity, as illustrated through music.
This year’s RSD ambassador is Britain’s own homegrown talent, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, who has recorded two new songs directly to vinyl for the event. Other anticipated releases include Run the Jewels, Arcade Fire and many more. If you have not yet succumbed to the allure of the 12” x 12” format, RSD 2018 is a good excuse to literally give it a whirl.