Jumping the Shark: Has Record Store Day Turned Into Hipster Black Friday?
I love music, disproportionately so, and as part of my passion I blog, podcast, make music, go to shows, buy merch, and collect vinyl. My Netflix queue is exclusively music documentaries while my iTunes library has its metadata organized with the anal retentiveness of a rock and roll librarian. I catalog each new record I buy onto Discogs and purchase records from independent labels and distributors on a near daily basis. In short, I’m a hopeless music freak.
You’d think I’d be in Record Store Day’s wheelhouse, and admittedly I was for awhile. Over the years I’d wake up early and stand in lines of various sizes hoping to snag “exclusive” collectables. I didn’t go this year because I already spent all of my money for the week on…well, records. Virtually every day is “Records Store Day” for me, and sure there were still parts of me that wanted to go, but the whole experience has slowly turned sour for me.
The Music Industry has been very good at learning how to exploit its consumers. Be it from cheaply produced live albums in the 70’s or “Greatest Hits” records with one or two “new” tracks in the 90’s – and unfortunately, I think something with great intention, Record Store Day, is being gentrified. I’m all for Record Stores getting added attention, as they’re integral to the culture of music, but RSD now reeks with all the things I dislike in consumerism, it’s become Black Friday for Hipsters.
Record Store Day is a cash and grab event. There’s no real community where people actually talk and learn about music, it’s more or less a bunch of seagulls fighting over an abandoned bag of chips on the beach. I’m sure I sound like an alcoholic talking about St. Patty’s Day, but it sure does seem like a lot of tourists are “digging” on Record Store Day.
The record releases are becoming more gimmicky and reek of the old tricks already used in the 70’s and 90’s. Think about it, Jack White’s Blunderbuss sold 33,000 copies in 2012, making it the highest selling vinyl of the year. He’s the most popular act that sells vinyl, and he only sold 33,000 copies. So when you’re being sold “limited” pressing of 1,000 or even 3,000 records how limited are they really?
Again, I love the idea of Record Store Day, and think these independently owned hubs are so very important for so many reasons, I just think they deserve the same amount of love for the other 364 days.