5 things to do (and not do) this Record Store Day
This Saturday is Record Store Day. A day that’s kind of about music, but mainly about community and spaces that support music as an artform that’s worth spending money on.
In a world where just about every song is at our fingertips, the importance of these spaces can be lost, but it’s important to acknowledge how much they can help us with the discovery of new music and the value we place on it.
There’s all sorts of fun planned in stores around the country (get a list of events here) and it’s always a really nourishing day of music, where you can spend time with likeminded people who spend as much time and money on music as you.
To make sure you get the most out of the day, here are a few tips.
5 things you should do
Visit your local indie record store
You’d think this one is a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised. Look, life gets busy and there are plenty of other things that require our time and money throughout the year (bills, rent, food etc.). Even if you only make it to a record store once a year, Record Store Day is a damn good excuse to do that.
Make sure you find out what your closest independent record store is. Hint: It most likely doesn’t sell refrigerators and have lots of garish, cheap looking yellow signs everywhere.
By choosing an independent store, you are not only supporting local business, you are ensuring the continued sustainability of important spaces for music discovery, where artists at all stages of their career can sell their music and be encouraged to make more.
I promise these won’t all be so simplistic, but this one is important.
Soak up what these stores have to offer on Record Store Day. Go and watch bands, talk to people about music, learn a thing or two and breathe in that strange mix of cardboard cases, dusty shelves and questionable hygiene from the kinds of people who tend to loiter around these places.
But don’t forget to take something home with you as well. Your life will be better for it, and you’ll be contributing to the ongoing viability of these spaces.
Look beyond the special releases
There are plenty of exciting reissues and never before seen records coming out as special Record Store Day products – you can check out the full list here – but often the real gold is elsewhere.
If you don’t manage to get one of the many limited edition releases, or if none of them take your fancy, there’s still an entire world of music that you can choose from. Why not grab the new record from Melbourne’s MOD CON? Or Bill Withers’ 1977 classic Menagerie? Or a vinyl copy of You Am I’s Hi Fi Way? Or the first ESG record?
Take your time, dig deep and find something you’ll treasure.
Get there early
If you really do have your heart set on one of those limited-edition releases, be there when the store opens. Not 15 minutes later, and certainly don’t wait til the afternoon. The really good stuff goes fast and I can tell you from first-hand experience that sometimes it can be hard to find again.
If you do miss out on what you wanted, then go back to point number three. It’s gonna be okay. Promise.
Record Store Day is the biggest day of the year for these stores. Things are likely to be a little busier than usual and the staff might be a little stressed. Allow yourself some time and be patient if it’s taking a little longer to go through the racks and get to the register.
There’s a pretty good chance that there’ll be good music playing in the store so just take a minute to enjoy that and maybe strike up a conversation with a fellow record lover.
But please don’t do these things
Complain about prices
You can buy it cheaper on Amazon? Cool story. Why are you here then? These people are running small businesses, earning a very modest living in the pursuit of bringing you great music and, just as importantly, a space dedicated to supporting it.
And, while the Amazon algorithm might tell you that people who bought Parquet Courts also bought Pavement, everyone already knows that. They might appear surly (or they might not), but a record store employee will instead word you up to Melbourne’s Good Morning or the best album from The Clean or The Fall to start with. These people work with records all day, every day – they know their stuff and they want to share it with you. It’s worth paying for that kinda service.
Plus, records are heavy, and shipping them to Australia is expensive. And not everyone has Jeff Bezos money.
You’re here all the time? Sweet! You know the owner? Cool! You hate the fact the store is so busy? Get over it!
Look, you might hate Record Store Day. You wouldn’t be alone. You might say ‘every day should be Record Store Day’ and that’s a very noble and cool thing to believe. But the fact is, today actually is Record Store Day and you have to deal with that.
I’d tell you to stay away, but that’d be stupid. This is the best day of the year for the place that you love. You need to be there to help celebrate.
It happens every year and it’s more gross every time it happens.
You might have happened upon one of the 2,500 copies of Back In Black on cassette.
Maybe you were quick enough to score a copy of the Buffalo Tom 7” featuring Paul Simon and The Who covers.
Maybe you saw one of the 1,800 copies of Flume’s debut album on picture disc in your local record barn.
If you want these things – buy them. But don’t grab them just so you can flip them on eBay or Discogs later that day. You’re ripping off everyone. Just because you’re in the right place at the right time doesn’t give you the right to profit and make a true fan miserable.
Leave the rare stuff you don’t want for someone who’ll actually cherish it. When it comes to seeking out records, a little bit of good karma can be powerful.
Put stuff back in the wrong place
Like all of these suggestions, this one is relevant 365 days per year. But especially on Record Store Day.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up with your arms full of far more records than you can afford, justify to your partner and fit into your house, and you’ll have to whittle them down. That’s all good. It’s part of the fun.
But, when you put them back, don’t just chuck them anywhere. If your local store has an area where you can put stuff you don’t want, use it. The fastidious clerks will make sure it goes back in the right place. If it doesn’t, then spend a couple of minutes making sure the record goes back where you got it from. It makes for a much better experience for everyone.
While you’re at it – make sure you treat the records with some respect. They’re not as hardy as you might think.
I get it. Record stores can be really intimidating places. No matter what Nick Hornby wrote in the 90s, no one is going to judge you negatively if you want to buy something that you’re worried might be uncool.
You’ll be surprised how broad the music taste of some of the people working at these places is, and how little they care
If they give you shit, they’re probably joking. If they’re not, find a better store. There’s enough of them out there.
Record Store Day happens all across the country this Saturday 21 April. For more details, head to the website.