This week, several folks have asked me, “What’s the big deal with Record Store Day?” The truth? There isn’t. It’s just another Saturday. If you’re an avid collector – in other words, one who always has a “holy grail” to look out for – you probably already hit up your favorite record store on the weekend anyhow. On this particular day, however, you have a little more incentive, and well, every artist you could possibly imagine just so happens to be releasing something rare and worthwhile. Not a big deal, right?
Each year, Record Store Day raises the bar. More artists get involved, the exclusives get better (and more “sacred”), and the in-store performances get wilder. For 2011, anyone who’s participating will probably get little to no sleep tonight. It’s too goddamn exciting. While some record store owners will post their inventory online via their personal blogs, others will leave it to the customer to find out. A part of me hopes for the latter.
Why? Because that’s the fun of it all. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Record Store Day really the celebration of a practice that’s becoming tragically more and more obsolete week after week? People call most record stores vintage shops for a reason. Simply put, nobody buys music anymore. They used to blame the Best Buys and Circuit Citys for their downfall, but now it’s just you: the listener. It’s because of this that an event like Record Store Day exists. But, let’s focus on that notion for just a minute.
Everyone’s so gung-ho about the exclusives. They’re dying to hear the songs, they’re seething at the teeth to get the limited edition 7″ that will shine in their box, but deep down, the excitement really comes from somewhere else. It’s the unknown. It’s the idea that you might not get that release. Wow. Isn’t that something hard to stomach, Generation [Insert Whatever It’s Called Today]? You’re about to take part in something where you might not get the song you want. The idea of something being sold out or out of your hands is pretty unreal, eh? That’s how it used to be. Before the age of instant musical consumption, folks used to wait outside record stores – in the rain, the snow, the hail? – and actually not know if they’d get the album. To quote the great American-turned-Canuck Win Butler, “We used to wait.”
To me, that idea is the most exhilarating aspect of Record Store Day. It’s the return of value. It’s the promotion of something genuine. So, when you go and brave whatever weather your city offers tomorrow, all in hopes of holding, say, Big Star’s Third (sh’yeah, good luck), think about how thrilling of a day you’re having. Then, when you’re all done, realize it doesn’t have to end there. These stores are fighting to keep these moments alive. The artists are too, which is why you’re getting these incredible rarities.
So as someone who is a part of this endless aural consumption, too, I want to stress that you return to your respective stores. Maybe not the following weekend, since most of you will probably lay out a few Andrew Jackson’s tomorrow, but maybe in a few weeks. You’re music junkies. It’s easy to get your fix with a click. Consider this your rehabilitation. Good luck, folks.
p.s. Oh, by the way, here are some of our personal picks and a listing of in-store performances that caught our eyes. We also got a few words by the event’s co-founder himself, Eric Levin. Spare no expense.
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