Have Record Store Day's Priorities Been Warped?
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 4:26 PM
A growing sentiment among indie music retailers and small independent labels is that Record Store Day has grown too big and actually has become detrimental to the very small businesses it was intended to help. This piece in British online zine The Quietus spotlights some of the complaints about RSD, which takes place Sat. April 19 worldwide.
Quietus writer Phil Hebblethwaite notes that a rep from the UK distributor Kudos griped that "pressing plants were prioritising releases specific to Record Store Day, often on major labels, leaving them 'effectively locked out of the vinyl business'. They mentioned that they have always been supporters of the day, the organisers and concept, but drastic changes need to be made in the future, because, they said, "It feels like it has been appropriated by major labels and larger indies to the extent that smaller labels who push vinyl sales for the other 364 days of the year are effectively penalised."
Later in the article, Hebblethwaite documents some corrosive tweets from the excellent Manchester-based electronic-music label Modern Love on the subject: "'Fuck Record Store Day and all you self-righteous wankers who think it benefits anyone "independent",' followed by, 'Fuck you to all the pressing plants out there who have made major labels their priority,' and '…looking forward to seeing that bubble burst in a couple of years.'"
These problems afflict US labels, too. Beyond this slap in the face to indie-label owners and artists, there are simply too many releases coming out on RSD, and too many pointless reissues, mostly of standard, major-label, classic-rock titles that still litter used bins for relatively low prices. (I love Jerry Garcia's Garcia, but I see used copies selling for about $10 nearly every time I go digging.) Then, of course, there's the perennial scenario of greedy jerks who care nothing about music, but who camp out in front of record stores to scoop up a load of releases to later sell at inflated prices on eBay and Discogs. Further scathing assessments of RSD can be found at Yoga Records' Twitter account, run by Douglas Mcgowan, who curated Light in the Attic's I Am the Center compilation of private-press new age music.
There's no denying RSD has boosted the financial health of many music retailers; sales for this day often surpass some shops' entire Christmas week tallies. One feels like an asshole for wanting to deny them that huge payday. But RSD has gotten so bloated and put such a strain on the limited number of vinyl pressing plants, at the expense of small indie labels, that its organizers should seriously consider scaling back the output in coming years. Somehow, though, one senses that greed will ultimately win out and things will only continue to metastasize.