The annual Record Store Day – or the vinyl collector’s Christmas – will be held this year on Saturday 18th April (sadly just before student loans come in!) The event began in 2007, and strives to celebrate the UK’s independent record shops – with exclusive releases and performances across the independents. This is the first year in three that I am unable to make it to an RSD event, so I am going to go back to spring 2013 and speak about my first event, because that, for me, captured the entire spirit of the day.
The phrase ‘the early bird catches the worm’ could not be more apt than in relation to Record Store Day. Sadly, if you do not wake up at 4am and trundle to a records shop, it is pretty unlikely that you will get anything you want. That is why I ended up sitting on a blanket in a highstreet in Hertfordshire outside David’s Music (my local independent record shop) at 5am on a chilly Saturday morning. But that was all part of the fun. We waited anxiously for the lists to be brought out after sussing out an ideal list from the full official list of releases online to see if you would be able to buy the exclusive records that you were lusting over. This led to an extensive re-visioning of lists once you realise that you really cannot afford to buy everything that you want unless you want to end up knee-deep in your overdraft – not that it wouldn’t be worth it. In front of us in the queue was journalist Peter Paphides, who had researched the record stores around and travelled some two hours to attend the day at David’s, a very small venue in Letchworth. That perfectly captures the thesis of Record Store Day, I think. It’s the support of independent record stores that survive in the midst of Amazon and Spotify that makes this day special, and so important. Paphides wrote an article following that day, ‘RSD13: A love letter to record shops’ and describes the day in better terms than I could hope to; “the records you buy are diary entries. You remember the shop; you remember what else you were doing that day; and, by extension, what was happening in your life at that time.”
So Record Store Day, despite the aim of buying this record or that record, is not just about the vinyl. It’s about the experience and the memories, and it really does bring people together – you have to have something in common with the people around you if you are all choosing to forfeit your Saturday snooze in order to sit outside drinking tea at 5 o’clock in the morning. This is what I’ll miss most about not participating in RSD15. I didn’t even buy anything last year, but I was still there. With Record Store Day, it really is just the taking part that counts!
Although Southampton sadly doesn’t have any independent record shops, our closest participants are Hundred Records in Romsey, and the record cafe Pie and Vinyl in Southsea. There is also a secondhand vinyl sale being held in Solent’s Conference Centre which kicks off at 10am, so you can still feel like you are taking part in the vinyl spirit if you need to stay a little bit closer to home. Failing this, Banquet Records put an amazing collection of stock online and kindly do not raise the prices (unlike the horrible people who put RSD releases on eBay for extortionate amounts) – so it’s still possible to be involved and support independent record shops even if, like me, you cannot actually make it to an event this year.
It is no secret that there has been a vinyl boom over the past few years, with record sales reaching their highest since 1997 last year. Being established in 2007, I would love to think that Record Store Day has played a little part in this. It has at least raised the profile of vinyl collecting, with Jack White being the face of it last year, and Dave Grohl this year. But however big it gets, it will still have the same message: the support of local record shops. So get up early, wrap up warm, and get yourself to your nearest independent record shop at 5 o’clock on Saturday morning. It’ll be worth it.