Record Store Day 2012
April 19, 2012 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Limited Editions: Record Store Day 2012 is almost upon us. Started in 2008, this internationally celebrated day is observed the third Saturday of April each year. Its purpose is to celebrate the art of music with hundreds of recording artists participating in the day by making special appearances, performances, meet and greets with their fans, the holding of art exhibits, and the issuing of special vinyl. posted by pelican (31 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a little excited about the Pulse Emitter/Date Palms/Expo 70/Faceplant 2xLP 4-way split
posted by box at 5:31 PM on April 19, 2012

I will be out, getting my free box of 100 used records from Jerry's (assuming he does that again this year), and fighting tooth-and-nail to acquire a copy of Mclusky Do Dallas. I also wouldn't mind picking up Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:59 PM on April 19, 2012

I, for one, CAN NOT WAIT to get my hands on this one.
posted by doublesix at 6:17 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let's get this out of the way first: if I buy any vinyl during Record Store Day, it'll almost certainly be the St. Vincent seven-inch (thanks Coachella!) and the Smuggler's Way flexidisc zine, as it doubles as something I can actually read. I'll probably also pick up the new Orbital and Bear in Heaven albums—on CD, as those I can actually play/rip, as opposed to vinyl, with which I can currently do neither.

Yeah, I don't own a record player. And that brings me to the weird unease with which I greet this year's Record Store Day, and lately record stores in general. Reading the list of releases this year and seeing the various geegaws and etched/mirrored/coloured/dyed vinyl discs available, I can't help but feel like everything is baseball cards all over again. Not content to just be pieces of cardboard, sometime in the mid-90s baseball cards started adding every gimmick under the sun: glossy UV coating, then foil stamping, then all-foil cards, then extra-thick UV coatings (hello Fleer Ultra!), and somewhere in there holograms and die-cut cards and a whole bunch of other junk.

Which isn't to say that coloured vinyl doesn't look really snazzy, or that LP covers aren't the superior canvas for album art. They do and they are. But look: these days, I listen to music on my computer and on my phone, and I listen to a hell of a lot of it. That means that unless I download all my stuff from a torrent tracker or buy everything from horrid ecosystems like iTunes (Amazon MP3s aren't available in Canada), pretty much my only option is CDs. If I want to actually support my local record stores instead of failing conglomerates or megacorps like HMV, then it's pretty much my only option (aside from Zunior!).

But thanks to the vinyl revival, CDs are increasingly passe. One of my local record stores has always been about the vinyl, but it feels like every year their CD selection shrinks. Eventually I'm guessing CDs will be phased out entirely, and that's fine. But they're being phased out for what is arguably a niche, antiquated product—one I can't use at all on any of the music devices I own. And even if I bought a record player (which I probably will) and hook it up to some sort of sound system (which I do own, connected to my TV in the living room), it still won't get very much use because I don't actually listen to music in the living room, smoking a pipe in deep contemplation. At best, I will be listening to albums I throw on the player while, say, making dinner in the kitchen. And this is a task that is just as easily accomplished by streaming music to my PS3, which is hooked up to the same set of speakers.

I know that vinyl has certain analogue qualities that I will never get from an MP3 or a CD. But is that enough anymore? For me, it's just not practical to use vinyl on a regular basis. So what about the vinyl releases that come with free downloads of the entire album? That's great, I say, and I really hope the records I buy tomorrow come with such cards (though I'm guessing the St. Vincent one at least probably won't). But think about that for a second: if you buy a vinyl record with a download card, what are you really buying? Because you could buy the same music on CD or MP3s most of the time for cheaper, and if you're like me, you're not using the vinyl anyways. So you've bought an avatar signifying the music you want to listen to, but the object itself is near-useless. It doesn't actually play music for me; it's basically a nice piece of art, a pack-in extra to what I really wanted.

The best part, though, is that CDs are essentially as useless as vinyl records are, only I can hang on to the fragile fiction that because I RIP the music off the CD to my computer, that the silver disc has worth that the black disc does not. But this is also a fabrication of sorts, and maybe that means I'll stop buying CDs one day too. And yet, the joy when I finally recovered all my old CDs from my parents' house, even though probably half the CDs have only ever been put into a player once, when I ripped them to my computer.

So Record Store Day is weird for me in ways that hopefully will have me recognized as an honourable mention in this year's MetaFilter Beanplating Awards. See you in-store.
posted by chrominance at 7:18 PM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

Jukebox the Ghost is doing a single and the B-side is a cover of New Order's Temptation. I don't even have a turntable, but I do want that. (And yes, I buy CDs at Waterloo, so I do support my indie stores.)
posted by immlass at 7:19 PM on April 19, 2012

I'll be gunning for that Phish release - in fact, I probably wouldn't even turn out but for that. Mostly because, as chrominance notes, the RSD releases increasingly have an artificial "collectible" component that doesn't really factor into my record buying. Not that I'm averse to acquiring some interesting vinyl - I loved the Lost Highway 10th Anniversary clear discs (shitty pressing issues aside) - but I'm mainly interested in records I want to listen to. The "limited edition" records I hunt for are rare because they didn't press many, because no one wanted them or no one wanted vinyl anymore. The albums I'm most interested in hearing, and thus owning, aren't the super-limited runs - Graceland, Horses, and the Uncle Tupelo reissues are all of interest but won't sell out Saturday.

But, you know, I do have a list of about 20 RSD releases broken into "A," "B" and "C" rankings, so even if I'm denied my college-era Phish nostalgia, I'm still probably dropping a hundred or two. Damn right I gotta have that Pretty In Pink on pink vinyl!
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:47 PM on April 19, 2012

I'm so excited about the Buck Owens coloring book/flexi disc combo that I am planning my morning around searching for it. That and beers and brunch at the Upstream.
posted by bayliss at 7:51 PM on April 19, 2012

I just realized vinyl and CD's represent the alpha and omega of physical media for music.
posted by roboton666 at 8:02 PM on April 19, 2012

Wait... Genesis is reissuing the Spot The Pigeon EP?

Fuck. That's going to wreak havoc with the resale value of the original pressing I bought in Germany back in the mid-1980s.
posted by hippybear at 9:03 PM on April 19, 2012

I'm looking forward to the Mermaid Avenue complete boxed set, even though I already have volumes 1 & 2.

Since I don't have a turntable, I won't be buying any vinyl.
posted by mike3k at 10:35 PM on April 19, 2012

Alternately, you could buy vinyl AND a turntable.
posted by hippybear at 10:39 PM on April 19, 2012

I work at Vortex Records in Toronto and just finished pricing RSD stuff about an hour ago.

namewithoutwords, I can't imagine you'd have too much trouble getting that Mclusky. We got our full fill on that one without issue (15 copies). Based on what I ordered and received, I'd say that the scarcest things (at least that were offered to Canadian shops like mine) are the Bowie and Kate Bush.

Would love to have been offered the Buck Owens but that label does a terrible job of getting their stuff into Canada. It's so unfortunate as they release good titles--I tried everything to get them to cooperate last year. Nope.

Some titles, like Uncle Tupelo LPs, aren't really limited and will be repressed in a month or whatever.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:40 PM on April 19, 2012

I'll be working at CD Alley in Chapel Hill on Record Store Day. I mostly work on weekends, so I haven't seen what all has come in this week. But judging from past RSDs, most of the limited edition stuffy will be gone within twenty minutes of opening Saturday.

But thanks to the vinyl revival, CDs are increasingly passe. One of my local record stores has always been about the vinyl, but it feels like every year their CD selection shrinks. Eventually I'm guessing CDs will be phased out entirely, and that's fine. But they're being phased out for what is arguably a niche, antiquated product

Vinyl sales are the only sector of physical recorded music that are growing right now. And yes, it is a tiny sliver of a niche market, but when you consider how dramatic the drop off has been on CD sales over the past decade, any growth is noteworthy. When I first started working in the store (a decade-ish ago), I regularly had customers (undergrads/teenagers) who literally did not know what a vinyl record was. They mistook 7"s for coasters and spacers for charms. These days, the young customers only buy vinyl. I think the idea is that if you're going to shell out fifteen bucks for an tangible album, the record is a more interesting artifact. Vinyl also sounds better, and in large amounts allows you a unique opportunity to punish the friends that help you move.
posted by thivaia at 11:22 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Including download codes with new vinyl is one of the few really great ideas I've seen from the music industry in recent years, and I'm glad it's becoming so common. Such an uncharacteristically common sense approach to the digital/physical divide from the music business.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:45 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

My favourite this year is Bill Callahan's take on Heaven Help The Child. 7" flipside is the original version done by Mickey Newbury.
posted by Theta States at 6:18 AM on April 20, 2012

Vinyl sales are the only sector of physical recorded music that are growing right now. And yes, it is a tiny sliver of a niche market, but when you consider how dramatic the drop off has been on CD sales over the past decade, any growth is noteworthy.

Oh, believe me, I know—I could see the trend coming even at the turn of the century. The worry I have is that many of those young customers will never bother to put that vinyl record on a turntable—why bother? It's way easier to use practically any other music device. And then we're not buying music anymore; we're buying a shiny bauble that signifies music.

On the one hand, that's fine; what matters is that you're financially supporting an artist because they create works that speak to you, and it doesn't really matter what's being exchanged so long as everyone is happy and the arts continue to flourish. But on the other hand, I'm worried that what drives record collecting nowadays is less about music appreciation and more about nostalgic fetishism. I feel somewhat the same way about books—like, it's great that you can read books in a bathtub, but there are a lot of advantages to ebooks, and yet a lot of people I know hate the fact that there's a market for ebooks that eats away at their precious bound volumes.

But at the same time, maybe I'd feel a lot better about buying records if I just admitted from the outset that I'm actually just buying a durable poster alongside a digital album. Certainly my local record stores have bought into this somewhat, because they sell LP-sized wall frames. I don't want to say the fetishism is bad, because I love the design-y bits as much as anyone—the semi-gloss partial finish of Goldfrapp's Black Cherry CD inspired a book cover design I did in university.

It's just that that whole world of buying vinyl records feels so different from how I absorbed music as a teenager—buying CDs on the release date and cramming them into my CD player to listen to on the long subway ride home because I couldn't wait a second longer, or searching for that one Garbage b-side because I knew there was no way I'd ever get my hands on a physical copy of the Subhuman single, or spending hours listening to indiepopradio's stream and cutting and pasting the last 10 songs to a text file to keep track of my listening session. But a part of me knows that's just me having a particular nostalgia for my formative musical experiences, just like some of the people buying vinyl now.
posted by chrominance at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2012

Also, neato, someone from Vortex posts on Metafilter! I don't often get to come up to Eglinton, but I try to stop at Vortex whenever I'm in the area.
posted by chrominance at 11:26 AM on April 20, 2012

i spin my vinyl all the time - probably about once a week. i suggest everyone try to find time to do it. it's wonderful to be forced into listening to a single artist for 38 minutes at a time.
posted by nadawi at 12:24 PM on April 20, 2012

I listen to far more albums now with digital mediums than I ever did as a vinyl collector. Maybe it was the constant DJ impulses?
But now I primarily just collect albums I want to listen to start-to-finish.
posted by Theta States at 12:41 PM on April 20, 2012

it's wonderful to be forced into listening to a single artist for 38 minutes at a time.

I love my mp3s but album shuffle on iTunes is my friend.
posted by immlass at 12:41 PM on April 20, 2012

I still haven't found a program that comes anywhere close to my needs. I can't stand Itunes. Foobar 2000 is close, but still not there.
posted by Theta States at 12:52 PM on April 20, 2012

Theta States - what are your needs? have you tried wrangling media monkey?
posted by nadawi at 3:06 PM on April 20, 2012

As it turns out, I'm going to pop in to the local record store tomorrow to get that Numero WTNG thing.
posted by box at 7:39 PM on April 20, 2012

You Should See the Other Guy: "namewithoutwords, I can't imagine you'd have too much trouble getting that Mclusky. We got our full fill on that one without issue (15 copies)."

:( Out of the 6 record stores I visited in Pittsburgh this morning, not a single one had a copy (either because they only got one (1) and it was gone before I get there, or they got none at all.

At least I got my free box of records.
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:39 AM on April 21, 2012

I was at the Harvard Square Newbury Comics this morning ten minutes before they opened (10am). There were probably 80 people or so in line and I figured I'd be SOL on that Phish record. But lo, they had lots of them, and I ended up with both the Deluxe Edition and the Pollock Edition, as well as everything else on my list. Never the less, my small, genuinely indie record store got basically nothing from the RSD folks, and various friends around the country are reporting that their local stores were likewise denied stock. I'm glad I got my records, but this false scarcity thing is bullshit - what's the point of getting thousands of people out to stores where they can't find the stuff they came to buy?
posted by Banky_Edwards at 1:08 PM on April 21, 2012

genuinely indie record store got basically nothing from the RSD folks

Well, that's not how it works. The RSD folks have nothing to do with the distribution of any titles. The record stores get the titles from the same place they get their regular stock from: distributors, labels, and one-stops.

There are three ways that the distros, labels, and one-stops decide where to send stuff: 1) First come first served or 2) democratically and 3) playing favorites.

The initial RSDs were almost all done first come first served but stores complained about the lack of balance and now they do it more democratically. There always was and always will be favorites-playing.

Here's those systems:

1) First come first served: obviously, whoever orders the titles first gets them. This system works great when you're a true indie and your buyer (in my case, me) are on the ball. It meant that if I ordered 50 of a title and another store ordered 50 later and the distro had 60, I'd get 50 and they'd get 10 and anyone else who ordered after us got zero.

2) Democratically: the distro compiles all of the orders and gives every store that ordered a title an equal number unless the demand outstrips the supply, in which case the distro then has the option of either doing it first come first served or playing favorites. For instance, ten stores each order 10 copies:

a) if only 10 copies are available from the distro the distro will then give each of the ten stores 1 copy each.

b) if 8 copies are available, they can either give one each to the first 8 stores that ordered or pick and choose among the ordering stores based on which of their customers they want to satisfy.

3) Playing favorites is obvious: the distro or label services their favorite customers first and then serves others store via method 2 or 1 if any copies are left over.

If your local indie didn't get a good fill on their order then either their distro played favorites or their distro does first come first served and your shop was late to order.

Out of the 6 record stores I visited in Pittsburgh this morning, not a single one had a copy

Damn. Sorry to hear that. It sold steadily at my shop and we were out when I left.

This RSD I was busy with other things so was not on the ball as well as I usually am but in the past I've been very agressive at trying to find items for my shop. I've gone as far as approaching artists and labels directly who do not normally ship to my country and working something out. I've gotten some nice exclusives this way. However, it's not always so smooth.

Last year, for instance, a new label called Omnivore Records out of California was doing some nice titles, including a Big Star and a Buck Owens. No distro in Canada was getting them that I could find. I approached the label directly and they were responsive but insisted that EMI Canada would have the titles. I told them EMI Canada are a bunch of fuckups and they for certain would not have the title. Turns out I was right and EMI fucked it up (as they fuck up everything). Unfortunately the label signed an exclusive agreement with them for Canadian distro rights* so "legally" they weren't allowed to sell to me. I tried everything to get them to just ship to me direct, including offering to have one of my LA friends put cash in their hand in exchange for the records--the label wouldn't even have to ship them, my friend would handle that. At that point I think they thought I was crazy and they stopped responding to my solicitations. Far as I know they're still with EMI because the titles they released this year, including the Buck Owens coloring book, was not offered to Canadian shops. As a result, I've now found an insider in the states who's offered to trade me USA only titles for Canadian titles, though I won't have them in time for RSD itself. Still, I have customers who want them so I'm happy to do the legwork.

*If you own a record label do not sign up with EMI as your Canadian distributor. My favorite story about them is that, last year as well, they were offered the Vanguard RSD items for Canada. Artists included Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, John Hammond, Country Joe and the Fish, etc. Without bothering to solicit their one stop or any stores, EMI told Vanguard that there was no interest in those artists in Canada. My shop alone would have no problem buying dozens of copies of each of those artists--we sold 120 (and counting) copies of the Lomax titles that Mississippi Records released a while back, for instance. EMI is truly incompetent in my opinion.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 4:39 PM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

A friend snagged me the St Vincent 7", so I'm a happy camper.
posted by Windigo at 4:39 PM on April 21, 2012

I snagged Feistodon but it was slim pickings for most RSD stuff here. Although I did pick up a fantastic pink vinyl Spanish bootleg rerelease of Bowie's Hunky Dory, so I've got no complaints about my record shopping today.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:42 PM on April 21, 2012

I picked up WTNG Solid Bronze, which I was expecting, and a Fela Kuti 7", which I wasn't.

Also, is it just me, or was it a good day for pink vinyl?
posted by box at 8:32 PM on April 21, 2012

Pink vinyl seems to be the vogue right now. I recently got a Polyphonic Spree 7" which was pink vinyl.
posted by hippybear at 8:37 PM on April 21, 2012

Why I Gave Up On Record Store Day.
posted by box at 10:11 AM on April 23, 2012

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