Monday, April 22, 2013
Record Store Day 2013: A Brief Reflection
Of course, there was also a less rosy side to proceedings - namely the innate knowledge that not all present shared our intentions. Were those seen leaving with five bulging bags genuine collectors with more money than sense, or would their first activity upon returning home be to fire up their eBay accounts? It's a distasteful inevitability that's existed ever since the celebration's stateside genesis in 2007, and one that's worsened year-on-year as its popularity and coverage have likewise intensified. Come midday, former Arab Strap vocalist Aidan Moffat reported his own 7"'s to be fetching up to £40, even though some could conceivably have been left on the shelves, while my own cursory evening search found no less than 140 Paul Weller singles up for auction - that from a limited run of 2000. "Despicable," as the former aptly put it.
My day then was an unqualified success, and by general consensus the same seems to have applied to the event as a whole. There's no doubt it's of huge importance to the shops in question. That much was proved at 9am, when Reflex's owner revealed they'd made more in the first hour or so of trading than they had in the whole of the preceding week, yet there remains a dissenting minority who call into question the reality of the occasion. Along with the eBay sharks, complaints over the increased involvement and profiteering of major labels were abundant, as were claims the affair had somehow lost touch with its original exclusively well-meaning sentiments.
Then, clearly, there's the issue of legacy, and whether a single day of publicity really does enough to promote businesses which operate the year around. The attention gained through such hysteria, however, is surely priceless - some would say of equal importance to the cash raked in - and indeed it was virtually impossible to pass by participating shops without catching a sense of that festive atmosphere. This will surely have rubbed off on the odd oblivious passer by, not to mention the online and HMV shoppers whose interest may have been piqued, be it through in-store performances (local acts Nadine Shah, Frankie & The Heartstrings [DJ] and The Lake Poets were just some of those making an appearance), the general madness, or merely the sight of so many people with big square bags skipping around the town with enormous smiles on their faces. Many customers have, needless to say, been lost to the digital age, but with physical music enjoying a resurgence and major retailers seemingly incapable of moving with the times, one could make a case for these independents being more vital than ever.