A think piece on the almighty 45 might have been appropriate given this month’s episode. But the timeliness of Record Store Day 2014 and the recent debates about the growing popularity of this event have prompted me to share a few thoughts of my own.
What began as an annual act of solidarity to champion the smaller record shops and labels has now become a corporate cash grab in the eyes of many.
Stop me if the story sounds familiar.
Independent record store owners get together and start Record Store Day in 2007. They work with smaller labels to secure limited releases specifically for that day to drive traffic into stores and boost sales. Over the next few years, the event becomes wildly successful, and attracts major labels eager to cash in on niche vinyl market sales. The majors start participating in RSD and eventually flood it with picture disc reissues and thoughtless filler that’s no better than the styrofoam it was packed in.
And that’s how Record Store Day was ruined, according the purists.
Except for one thing.
That’s how everything was ruined in the history of things being ruined. Every musical form, from blues to hip-hop has been watered down by corporate interests. That’s how anything worthwhile is destroyed, from filmmaking to painting. If I let corporate participation dictate my love for art, I would have stopped liking everything a long time ago.
Sure, the majors are fucking it up and we all wish we could make them suck elephant cum out of a really short straw.
But is that a reason to hate a whole day?
A whole day dedicated to the very thing you love?
I get it, vinyl nerds:
“Every day is Record Store Day”.
“I don’t need a day to tell me what to dig for”.
“Those people aren’t even real collectors”.
“I’m not trying to stand in no long ass line”.
I know exactly how you elitist assholes feel because I’m one of you.
This past RSD, I was invited to spin some chunes at Play De Record, a long standing Toronto vinyl institution, along with my Cratery brethren, Serious and Kaewonder. This was our first year participating in this capacity. And we all had fun, despite playing for a smaller crowd towards the end of the day. But mostly, we were there to show our support for proprietors Jason Palma and Eugene Tam, 2 dudes who have dedicated their lives to the service of bringing music to the people and remained independent for over 20 years. I want to see those dudes win. But first, I want to see them survive. And events like Record Store Day help them do that.
So what if our purist principles can poke holes in its intentions?
So what if the place is full of folks that are buying bullshit?
I’ve got news for you. Every other day of the year you hit a shop, there are people with bad taste, buying shitty records that help pay the owner’s rent.
So miss me with that self-righteous garb.
RSD isn’t necessarily a reason to go shopping. But it’s certainly no reason to not.
This year, I picked up a few things, including the new Dust and Grooves book profiling different record collectors and their collections. It’s an independent, crowd sourced project that is the definition of DIY done right.
I left behind those flimsy limited edition Placebo reissues because the quality of the printing on the cover was a tell-tale sign that they hadn’t spent the time or money to do it correctly. Plus, I’m foolishly still holding out for a few OG copies, should they ever come up.
The point is, Record Store Day can’t possibly be all good. And it’s also not all bad.
If you hate the idea of majors cashing in, people with less than stellar taste and novelty collectors, there’s no point in avoiding RSD. You might as well avoid vinyl collecting altogether.
Like any day spent in a record shop, there’s always the stuff you’re going to be into. And the stuff you’re not.
It’s our job as curators of our personal tastes to sift through it all and figure out what works for us.
You may have heard of it. It’s called “digging”.
1. Poly-Rhythmo de Cotonou – Iya me dji kibi ni
2. Beeghon’n – Midnight-Spirit
3. Geraldo Pino – Power to the people
4. Gerson King Combo – Good Bye
5. Smokin’ Pocket – Bump funky barrel
6. Trilogy – (K.C.) In the ghetto
7. Debbie Taylor – Let’s prove them wrong
8. Curtis Mayfield – Hard times
9. The Beginning of the end – Hey pretty girl
10. Momie-O – You’re welcome, stop on by
11. Miami feat Robert Moore – Party Freaks (part 1)
12. Clarence Mann – Sadity Lady (instrumental)
13. The Grand Jury – Music is fun to me
14. Bobby Franklin’s insanity – Sexplot
15. The Notations – I’m still here
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