Gorgeously large liner notes and cover art suitable for framing and hanging, a sound “file” you can hold in your hands, one that some argue is superior to any other — try ordering these on iTunes. Thanks to hundreds of enterprising, enthusiastic stores around the world, we now have April 18th, National Record Store Day, to celebrate music on vinyl.
On Saturday, 700 record stores around the nation (plus a handful in other countries) will feature in-store performances and deals on rare vinyl records, CDs and DVDs, along with a number of exclusive releases and downloads. Chris Brown, marketing vice president for Bull Moose Music, helped conceive of Record Store Day, largely as a marketing vehicle for stores around the country. He says last year was actually the small Maine and New Hampshire chain’s best year and that the record shop is alive and well.
But the event also serves as a healthy, unified response to the rise of digital music; a local record store can provide a tangible link to the music it offers. “It’s just a way of reminding people that we serve a vital purpose, even in today’s environment,” said James Bradley, owner of Sound Fix in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “If you want to feel more connected to the music, it helps to have a product there to see what the band looks like.”
The store managers we spoke with agreed that in order to survive, the record store as an institution must continue to serve as more than just a retail outlet. On April 18, as patrons come in to hear live bands, to hang out with a community of like-minded audiophiles, it will certainly be hard to argue that online stores duplicate the experience. “It’s easy for people to get lost in this sort of Internet world where there’s so much music out there,” says Bradley. “The purpose we serve in this environment is to introduce people to new music – to serve as sort of a conduit to artists, people who are working in music business.”