Record Store Day matters to local bands, fans, shops, and labels

Record Store Day is Saturday, April 17. And that means it's time to get away from your computer, put down your iPod, and experience the personal and vibrant music outside your dorm room, and in your community.

For most students, it's all too easy to click a few buttons and download a song or an album. But celebrating the existence of independent record stores is like taking a breath of fresh air. If you happen to have some free time on April 17, check out this map for Record Store Day locations, and see what's near you.

Now if you love music, this celebration can occur any day of the week, but on Saturday, depending on where you live and what events your local record stores have planned, you could end up with a handful of exclusive releases. Lisa and Bill Roe, members of the Chicago outfit CoCoComa started a record label last year called Trouble in Mind. For the event, they are putting out a 4-song 7" featuring bands who have previously released something on the label. They released 1,000 copies of their LP, and it's been sold out. Lisa Roe told WalletPop by e-mail, "This is our way of giving back. Independent record stores are our bread and butter, and lots of them were very supportive of us from the get-go."

Well-known bands will also pop up at various vinyl shops to give exclusive performances, though Record Store Day does more than entertain music lovers and offer them bargains: It's also free advertising for record stores, labels, and artists. "At the end of the day it creates a buzz, gets people to buy stuff," Dustin Drase, of Addenda Records and CHIRP radio said by phone.

"Each store has its own personality and it's fun. It's a festive atmosphere," Drase adds. For example, Drase points out that Permanent Records has an annual Flaming Lips "Zaireeka" boom box listening party, where everyone is supposed to bring a boom box and bump the iconic Lips' album in unison.

Record Store Day, now in its third year, was conceived by Chris Brown, an employee of a New England independent record store, and founded by a half-dozen others in 2007 to recognize and celebrate indie stores. It is scheduled for the third Saturday in April every year. For most stores, Record Store Day is the busiest day of the year, next to Christmas.

"Last year, we had people lined up [a block-and-a-half-away]. I imagine it will be the same this year," Nick Myers, an 8-year employee of Laurie's Planet of Sound in Chicago said in a live interview. "People want their vinyl," he added. Myers says he is looking forward to his band, Vee Dee, performing at Laurie's as a great way to get free exposure.

Since the sales of digital media have eclipsed those of CD and vinyl in the past few years, independent record stores have been feeling the effects. A concept such as Record Store Day not only helps sales for labels, independent stores, and artists, but it also gives music lovers a chance to preserve an important part of the musical experience. Stores offer live shows, a groovy atmosphere, and of course, physical copies of new or old albums.

From a marketing standpoint, it offers excellent, and free, exposure. Labels get free advertising, stores see hundreds of customers, and artists can promote themselves, by playing live, passing out flyers and merchandise, or just by simply having their posters in a store.

Bottom line is, Record Store Day is a party and it's fun, but moreover, it brings music labels together and reminds people that music communities still exist.

"Everybody is in this together. We are working with each other, instead of against each other," Anthony Musiala, Managing Director of Minty Fresh Records said by phone. " Of course, you do realize it's a business and there is competition. But, in the end, if we can help Drag City sell records, or if they can help us, then everybody walks away happy."
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