When Record Store Day started nine years ago, it was but one great way for labels and artists to show their appreciation to their vinyl-junkie fans who love the form, feel and pure sound of vintage LPs and 7-inch singles. A Saturday in April was set aside, product exclusives were set, and events were planned as though it were a religious holiday.
As time went on, the unique sound quality of wax had a comeback, and sales shot up to $416 million, vinyl’s highest level since 1988, according to the RIAA and Fortune Magazine. Record Store Day has since expanded to other countries and added a second annual date, with Black Friday-exclusive events and releases. There’s even a second RSD Ambassador for Black Friday (Public Enemy’s Chuck D, to go with spring’s ambassadors, Metallica).
"We have always had great experiences with Record Store Day each year," says Sony Music/Legacy Recordings executive Tom Cording. Sony's special offerings this time include a 10-inch Jimi Hendrix special "Morning Symphony Ideas" and Bob Dylan’s "The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966" double album. “The response from vinyl fans to our recorded archives has been phenomenal. It's great to help bring music fans back into local record stores."
Meanwhile, record storeowners and buyers couldn’t agree more.
Carl Mello, the buyer for 17 Boston-area Newbury Comics shops, says if past years are any indicator, business Friday will be booming. “I’m excited for the [Bob] Dylan, and the Alice in Chains vinyls,” he adds. “Newbury Comics will debut special exclusives from the MC5 and Nat King Cole Christmas stuff.”
“Vinyl is definitely on the upswing; has been for the last five years,” says Dan Matherson, the owner of Repo Records on South Street in Philadelphia. Matherson believes that both annual Record Store Day events were crucial in winning those audiences, with the Black Friday event drawing in crowds of students home for the holiday weekend.
“I ordered a good amount of the Bob Dylan’s ‘The 1966 Live Recordings,’ Otis Redding’s ‘In Person at the Whisky a Go Go,’ the Erykah Badu and Iron Maiden because I know what our crowd’s buying tastes are like,” he adds. “We’ll give away posters and stickers – it’s a party.”