Kim Bayley on the “miracle” of Record Store Day

Friday 21st April 2017


This morning in hundreds of indie record shops around the UK, stock is being racked out, plans are being checked and rechecked and the sense of anticipation is enormous as they prepare to celebrate Record Store Day 10.
Ten years is a long time in music – the same time separates the release of Sgt Pepper’s and Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols – and it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come.
Looking at some of the posts in the RSD shops' Facebook group over the past weeks, one of the themes has been the differing perceptions of some of the newer stores and the people who have been there since the beginning – and that’s to be expected: the world of the indie record store in 2017 is unrecognisable from what it was in 2007. And Record Store Day can take much of the credit.
Back in 2007 the indie record shop seemed a doomed species. The number of stores kept falling. It was hard to see the point of the indie record store in the digital age.
And then somehow it all changed.
There were a number of factors – the sheer cussedness of the diehard indie stores, their blank refusal to die; the fact that most of the market had given up on vinyl leaving a small but precious gap in the market; the vision of Michael Kurtz and the original US RSD team; the entrepreneurial vision of Spencer Hickman, the then Rough Trade store manager who brought RSD to the UK; and the constant lobbying and cheerleading of indie champions at ERA.
Given the success of what’s happened since, you might think it was inevitable. It was not. It has taken an incredible amount of work. There have been real setbacks. The controversy about RSD releases ending up on Ebay could have killed us. The unfounded perception that the major labels were taking over, when in fact they've always only contributed about a quarter of all RSD titles, was also a hurdle to jump.
But we have ended up in 2017 with an indie sector now almost 400-strong, over a third of which have opened in the past decade.
No one is now talking about indies being an endangered species. On the contrary, the indie sector has a spring in its step. There is a renewed confidence among indie stores.
ERA did not invent Record Store Day. We don’t own Record Store Day. We do provide administrative and logistical and PR support, much of it ultimately funded by multiples and supermarkets and digital services who by definition do not participate in RSD.
They fund it because they recognise that Record Store Day is good for the entire music industry ecosystem.
It is the same motivation which drives record labels to go to enormous efforts to create exclusive limited editions for RSD for relatively little profit.
Record Store Day shows the music industry at its very best. It shows that miracles can and do happen.



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