Record Store Day Founders Tout Biggest Year Yet
This Saturday marks the sixth annual Record Store Day. For proof of this new secular holidays' growing success, consult the numbers: There are more than 1,000 stores in the United States participating in some way, and about as many internationally too with organizers in the UK, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Mexico.
There are about 400 special Record Store Day releases coming out this year too, which average about 2,000 units each, equaling approximately 800,000 units shipped to stores and about $8 million of potential sales in all, according to co-founder Michael Kurtz.
Considering it seemed the vinyl business was shutting down when Kurtz and several partners launched the event, all this is pretty impressive.
If numbers aren't your game, look to the names: This year's official ambassador is none other than Jack White. MGMT is releasing a special cassette-only single. Rob Zombie is dropping a new 45 RPM 10” record with reverse grooves for surely demented backwards play. The Flaming Lips have a specially packaged four-LP release of the band's beloved 1997 release Zaireeka, with all discs meant for simultaneous play. And the list goes on ranging from major to independent to DIY releases, each a stamp of approval.
No disrespect to the first year in 2008 -- which saw just ten special releases by notables such as Metallica, Death Cab for Cutie and R.E.M. -- but in contrast that now seems like pretty humble beginnings.
“Every year we think it can’t get much bigger, and every year it does," said co-founder Carrie Colliton. "We had no idea when we decided to throw a party to shine a spotlight on the culture of the indie record store what would come of it. We love it, we just had no idea."
There's other proof too, said Kurtz. In the past three years since he moved to Los Angeles from the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina, he's seen about ten new record stores open. He's also been knighted in France.
"We are just cranking," he said before boarding a flight to Maine to meet Doors founding member John Densmore to help launch Record Store Day in Scarborough and promote Densmore's new book, The Doors Unhinged. "We're like the kids on the spider bikes with our feet pumping as fast as we can."
In the Los Angeles area, specifically, there are about a dozen shops hosting special performances and sales. And there are some big names getting into the mix: At Finger Prints in Long Beach, Jimmy Eat World, Best Coast, Mike Watt and Laurence Juber will all be performing during the day. In the hipster haven of Echo Park, Origami Vinyl will host deejays from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., followed by a first-come-first-served performance by Nick Waterhouse at 7 p.m. and a sold-out show by hometown heroes Silversun Pickups at 8 p.m. Meanwhile, rolling around the city the only record store on wheels, The Record Truck special bookmobile-type of concept with a carefully curated collection of vintage vinyl will be making stops citywide, blasting out its coordinates via its social networking sites.
Record Store day offers a good opportunity for his store to "showcase our vibe with a lot of new people and hope that they come back and shop with us for the rest of the year," said Neil Schield, owner of Origami Vinyl. "We see a lot of people coming to a shop that've never been here before so it sort of evangelizes what we're doing in a way… So we try to do it bigger on record store day to show what we're about throughout the year."
Landing Silversun Pickups this year was a big get for the shop, and a longtime in the making. Longtime friends, Schield said this was something they've talked about since Record Store day started but it never came to fruition.
"It became this kind of annual conversation between us around Record Store Day," Schield said. "This year I texted him half jokingly and got a good response."
Putting the word out on its social network sites, the show sold out in less than a day with people literally running to the shop to buy tickets, Schield said.
Origami is trying to bring the neighborhood into the celebration as well, with more than 20 local restaurants offering discounts with an Origami receipt.
Schield continued, "Record Store Day matters because it raises awareness of the importance of a record store as a cultural center… And so now we're trying not to make it just about record stores but trying to make it about Echo Park too."
For a complete list of participating record stores, visit RecordStoreDay.com.