Thursday, April 28, 2011
Last week saw this year's Record Store Day - not just here in the UK, but in the US too.
A fine idea in principle and one that I've done my best to support over the past few years.
You see, time was when the 15 year old me would go into town on the bus and spend all afternoon walking from record shop to record shop, browsing the racks. In Derby alone we had a route that went RE Cords – Siren Records– (later)BPM Records – Collectors Records – Virgin (in Debenhams) – Our Price – HMV – Spot-On Sounds – Way Ahead Records. I may even have forgotten one or two (I’ve deliberately not included the market stalls like Felix Records as they mainly sold oldies and second hand stuff).
Now we have no independent record shops left here – and even HMV has moved it’s tiny selection of CD’s upstairs (with no lift so I’m screwed if I have the pushchair).
Even the mighty Selectadisc in nearby Nottingham is a fading memory.
So whilst Record Store Day is seemingly designed to boost trade in the few remaining stores , it seems like they’re fighting a losing battle.
This year in particular it feels like they might as well give up. I know too many people who queued at the shops to get the “exclusive and limited product” – only to find that it had already sold out. Then went home to find pages and pages of auctions for the very goods they couldn’t get in the real world – being hawked online via ebay, at two and three times the price.
So you wonder what is the point?
The net effect has been to increase online sales and drive up prices. Neither of which really benefits the shops that it purports to be supporting. Too many people making a quick buck by snapping up the goods and immediately selling them again online at enormous mark-up.
I’m not daft enough to think that this is somehow an outrageous surprise. It’s called the free market. If someone lives near enough to a city that still has a shop, and can be bothered to queue up then why shouldn’t they take the opportunity? Actually the answer is “because they should be better human beings” but as Nick Cave said “people just ain’t no good”.
I love record shops and I dearly wish that there was still at least one in my town, or even nearby – but the world moves on. I think we’ve reached the point where Record Store Day has surpassed its usefulness. Like in the TV medical drama when the idealistic doctor is still frantically applying the defibrillator paddles long after the patient is dead. It needs someone to put their arm round its metaphorical shoulder and say “come on..that’s enough”
The most annoying part of all this is that it does seem to spur the record companies into releasing some interesting and unique products. At which point you have to say “why don’t you do that anyway you useless fuckers?”.
The final straw for me personally was that the one record I wanted above all was the Damien Jurado Live At Landlocked vinyl LP – but this was only available in the US Record Store Day version of events – so I couldn’t get to a shop that stocked it without catching a plane. Of course a handful of ebay resellers will ship to the UK – for a small fortune. Plus I’ve been stung by our friendly customs tax too many times to know that you can add at least another £15 to the price of a vinyl LP, so I’m looking at the best part of £70-£80 to own a copy. The benefit of that transaction to Record Stores would be precisely zero pounds and no p.
Meanwhile in the modern world, someone rips it to mp3 and I just have to make do with hearing it in digital format and my record shelf remains unadorned.
I’ll probably get a world of shit for this post, but I felt at the very least it needed addressing.
Damien Jurado - Live At Landlocked LP
As for the Jurado record - it's as brilliant as I'd hoped for. He's amazing.