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Newbies Guide to Record Store Day 2015

Photo: Everybody's Records in Cincinnati, Ohio. Credited to Everybody's Records FB.

“My introduction to all this great music and to ‘the music business’ came from hanging around, and eventually, working at independent record stores. Nothing beats browsing in your favorite store, listening to music, finding something new or old that you’ve been searching for, all that. And without these stores, there’s just no way Wilco would still be around."

-Jeff Tweedy, Wilco

In 2014, vinyl record sales were up 49% from the same time the previous year. It is clear that record sales in the 2010’s have been making a new comeback in sales of the classic format, with more young people buying their albums on vinyl than ever. (Although if you want to be technical, vinyl itself has never "made a comeback;" it's always been around, if that's something you're into). 

Many young people collect just for the artwork and novelty of the format, but even more purchase just to listen, with indie rock being the genre with the highest sales. New records – that is, new release albums or reissues of older albums – more often than not even come with mp3 downloads, as even fans of the classic format seek the practicality of technology and in listening to their music on the go. Whether teens are buying their vinyl at the local mall’s Hot Topic or Urban Outfitters, or ordering online from Amazon, there is a musical subculture many young music fans still have yet to venture out and discover. And that is one that can only be found at, you guessed it, record stores!

What is Record Store Day?
Record Store Day began in 2007 as a day to celebrate independent record stores around the United States – and eventually, the globe. This year there are record stores on every continent that will participate in the annual exclusive release day that may as well be likened to a Black Friday for music fans. 

What Makes It So Awesome?
Never been to a record store? The first time you visit one you’ll be exposed to a whole universe of music full of genres, bands, and artists you’ve yet to discover. You’ll likely have to venture out from the suburbs, as most record stores are located in urban areas. But you’ll be amazed how much you find! Nevermind browsing through the same handful of classic rock bands and pop artists that grow tiresome at your local mall or bookstore. Record stores are full of indie releases, the weird and the wonderful, and the kind of stuff you won’t find at corporate retail stores. Definitely sounds rock n roll, right? 

What Happens on RSD?
Individual festivities vary by store. Many stores will have band meet and greets, live music, artist album signings, store contests, or DJs. Much of the RSD excitement revolves around the List, an official compiling of all the unique releases exclusive to the day each year. These are music releases that you cannot get anywhere else on any other day. And most are very limited in quantity. Releases on the list range from fun exclusives (last year I grabbed a Tame Impala live album on colored vinyl) to high-ticket items for hardcore fans (for example, this year renowned 90s slowcore band Red House Painters will reissue all their albums in a deluxe boxset). Whether you embark with a mind full of releases you absolutely must have or just will be browsing to see what you find, there is something for every fan of every genre.

Where Can I View the List?
Right here, on the official Record Store Day website. Note that some releases will be different depending upon what country you live in. The standard list applies to North America, but the UK, Spain, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands all have their own lists and can be found here. Most releases will be exclusive to RSD (once again, you cannot get them anywhere else on any other day!), others are local and regional, and some are “Record Store Day First Release,” which means that the title will have a wide release later in the year but you can pick it up on RSD for a first listen.

Alright, Let’s Go!
To find out which stores in your area are officially recognized by Record Store Day and will be participating, click here to search by city, state, or zip code. The majority of record stores DO participate, simply because it celebrates both small businesses and independent music, which is essentially a whole day dedicated just to them.

5 Tips for Your First Record Store Day Adventure

  • Just because you see a title on the list that you want does not mean that the record store you go to will have it. All releases are limited to a specific number, so there is no guarantee the first store you go into may have it. Most stores will not tell people what they will or will not get in stock simply because they don’t know either.

  • It is a first-come, first-serve basis. If you live in a major city, odds are there will be people waiting in line outside the big record stores for hours beforehand just to be the first to get in. And it can get pretty hectic! Some stores even have policies that limit the amount of releases you can buy, or will hand out numbers and let people select what they want to buy one by one. Don’t let this get in the way of your fun though – I have found that often the smaller stores have virtually no lines and still have exactly what I’m looking for. 

  • Follow the social media pages of record stores in your area. Many stores will announce things like contests, gifts with purchase, and live music for their RSD events. They will also post what time they open. This may also help you gauge which store to visit first.

  • So, the bad part of RSD – there are many people looking to make a quick buck. Yes, that Lou Reed vinyl box you see at one store may end up on eBay an hour later with the price bumped $200 higher. RSD releases equal the retail price, so there are people who will snatch up the limited releases just to sell them online later. Stores try their best to implement policies that combat this, but my best advice is, if you see something you want, don’t wait, just buy it! You're helping stores in your local community stay in business in the process. Music fans will always outnumber the scam artists, so don’t let this bring you down.

  • Every store is different. Once again, don’t expect them to have the specific release you want. This may just mean that you visit more than one store. On a day that encourages you to shop independent, this only just adds to the celebration of the event. Take a friend. Find a local restaurant you’ve never been to. Make a whole day of the event. Enjoy life. 

So, mark your calendars for Saturday, April 18th, 2015!

Just for fun: Here's a song I discovered the first time I ever went to a record store as a teenager. Point being, you'll never know what you will find. 

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