Record Store Day – Is a new brand strategy needed?
As both a DJ and a lover of vinyl, some might be surprised that Record Store Day didn’t have me falling out of my seat to get in on the action. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely 100% support our local independent stores (I buy music year round) and I think the more we can do to keep them in business the better.
Record Store Day originally launched in the US in 2007 and now also happens in the UK each year, with the aim of raising the profile of independent record stores up and down the country. Aimed at generating buzz within the industry, many stores can expect take 2 or 3 week’s worth of business that day, significantly boosting sales.
Rough Trade Records in Notting Hill had an exclusive performance from the Palma Violets – enjoying a manageable crowd and good community spirit. Berwick Street in Soho feels a bit more crowded – some argue that it is too busy.
It’s a great opportunity to shine light on smaller vinyl retailers and for these communities to come together across exclusive events.
But it’s not all good. The hype RSD creates leads to bulk orders being placed for exclusive limited edition products, which has been known to generate total disruption across pressing plants and distribution services. This can lead to bottlenecks in production leaving many stores uncertain as to whether orders will arrive in time, with the smaller independent stores not getting a look in.
Shops who want something different are expected to place far greater orders than what they actually expect to sell. What started out as a celebration of the independent music retailer can end up being costly and time consuming with a whole load of unsold stock left after the hype dies down.
That’s why many of the smaller stores have chosen to do their own thing. Rather than jump on the bandwagon of producing exclusive picture discs by bands from yesteryear (yes, there is actually a limited edition version of Take On Me by Aha) they’ve chosen to magnify existing stock, opening their doors record fayre style with local DJ’s and bands.
We spoke to Teamy from the label Wrong Island who says, “I really enjoy the events around Record Store Day the buzz around Berwick Street in London is great – we’re doing a day party with 2 Bears in Soho this year and I’m genuinely excited about it.”
“But the reality is that over the last few years RSD has become such a big thing that the majors are taking over, and clogging up the pressing plants. Getting a release schedule together is really hard work.”
“Last time we put something out the total turnaround was something like two and a half months. That makes things very difficult to manage. I’ve heard some rumblings that RSD could be moved to Autumn to ease things up but I don’t think it’s any more than an idea”.
So is a new brand strategy required?
Certainly streamlining the process so RSD works better for all those involved would be a start. Understanding the differing needs of the smaller independent stores against those of the larger retailers to make sure RSD delivers real benefits. The danger is that fringe events eventually become the true Record Store Day, with commercialisation of the official day drowning those it was supposed to support.