At the official 2015 Record Store Day launch event at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade Records today, RSD co-founders Michael Kurtz, Eric Levin and Carrie Colliton were happy to report that indie record shops are continuing to make a comeback. "Two-hundred independent record shops are opening this year," said Kurtz.
The vinyl renaissance is well-documented — the Wall Street Journal declared the vinyl record last year’s biggest comeback, reporting a sales surge of 49 percent in 2014 — but 200 new stores is still a robust number considering that just a few years ago, the rise of retail behemoths in the music industry and then the ubiquity of digital distribution (legal and otherwise) threatened the small indie shop's very existence.
Like independent bookstores, who have figured out how to thrive even in the Age of Amazon, record stores offer a sense of community and culture that Record Store Day celebrates and encourages. This year's Record Store Day is Saturday, April 18.
The culture of the indie record store has always fostered tight knit communities of audiophiles and people who think critically about music. St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, who spoke today on a panel of industry enthusiasts, stressed the importance of independent record shops in her own career that began with discovering the Polyphonic Spree at Good Records in Dallas, Texas. For producer and former Clash manager Kosmo Vinyl that incubation was "like college for me. Full of information."
And despite vinyl’s reputation for being for a product for music snobs, Vinyl noted how ironic it is when purists are outraged over the sale of vinyl records at mainstream stores like Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods. B-52s frontman Fred Schneider agreed, shouting, “I used to buy my records three-for-a-dollar at the A&P!”
Independent record stores celebrate Record Store Day by selling one-of-a-kind re-issues and unique releases, and hosting in-house performances. Bands such as Vampire Weekend and Metallica are known to hold out on releasing previously-unheard tracks until Record Store Day. With a whopping 600 submissions from various labels for an authorized Record Store Day endorsement, the RSD Foundation whittled this year’s list of releases list down to 410 records, from Bob Dylan to D’Angelo.
In no certain order, here are ten of the most intriguing RSD 2015 releases:
- J Dilla 7" "Fuck the Police" + unreleased material (picture disk)
- R.E.M. split 7" with Syd Barrett featuring a cover of Dark Globe
- D'Angelo "The Charade" 7"
- "Music to Drink Beer To" curated by Dogfish Brewery and Legacy Records "12
- Katie Piersen "Don't Sting the Bee" 7"
- Metallica cassette reissue of 1982 demo tape
- Elvis Presley first single 7" from Third Man and Jack White
- The Zombies "R.I.P." Rare Outtakes and B-Sides LP
- Bob Dylan "The Basement Tapes" "12
- Run the Jewels "Record Store Day Release" 12" (picture disk)