Tomorrow is Record Store Day. This now seems to be a fairly worldwide thing (OK, North America and the UK) which is now starting to be a victim of its’ own success. To whit: There are now a huge amount of special releases, which is great that bands are encouraging fans to buy physical releases; but not so good if a bunch of ebay Pirates get therte early, snap them all up and flog them online before true fans (i.e. the ones who might want to, y’know, actually listen to them) get a chance. NME have listed fifty essential purchases. Great if you are rich enough and don’t have to go out to work, I guess.
However; rather like libraries (I’ve worked in both Record Shops and for the Library Service over the last ten years), Record Stores have their place. They are worth fighting for. As a punter, I still get more of a thrill browsing new and second-hand racks than gazing on eMusic or iTunes. I do use these services, but this is back-up, not as a replacement. It was far more thrilling to hold the physical releases that we have put out as 17 Seconds Records than to see them on digital services. There’s still something that is tangible, collectible. I remember the thrill of buying my early records – the first 7″ was ‘Caravan Of Love’ by the Housemartins back in late ’86, from WH Smiths.
Yes, there have been a lot of record stores that have gone, because they made mistakes. It is bizarre that HMV now seems to hardly sell any music (though we did get the Aberfeldy 7″ in the Edinburgh one!). However what the Megastores tended to do was to focus purely on a quick turnover. I don’t really mourn the loss of these, but I get sad when the small stores suffer. Small stores run by staff who are knowledgeable, who take an interest in being able to point out stuff you might like. Sorry, but there’s something more personal about this than ‘74% of people who bought this item also bought this.’
Avalanche in Edinburgh has continued to survive whilst others failed by focusing on supporting local acts, and I have seen many customers come in from abroad who will then buy stacks of CDs that they have been recommended. I never saw that in Woolworths. It also does a lot of second hand stuff, which is brilliant. Oh, and when I’m buying second hand vinyl I like to be able to check it. I’m not into sniffing vinyl (except to put the wind up people), but I do want to be able to chat with people about what I am buying.
Can you do so much of this stuff over the internet? Well, yes, you can. But then again, I’d rather go out for a coffee than sit in a chatroom online. Like David Byrne points out in his excellent book on Cycling, Bicycle Diaries, there’s something far more organic that comes together when people collide and come together naturally, rather than just gravitating to people or things they think they’ll like. I’ve bought stuff I have liked because I heard it playing by chance in a record shop. I tend to do less with links on digital record shops.
We have done a limited CD-R as 17 Seconds Records, which is being given away in Avalanche.
This is the tracklisting:
Fiction Faction ‘Apparitions’
X-Lion Tamer ‘Neon Hearts’
Factory Kids ‘They Used To Call Me Baby’
Chris Bradley ‘Beggar to fall’ ‘
X-Lion Tamer ‘Hope’
Wildhouse ‘More Stars’
Factory Kids ‘One’
Chris Bradley ‘Hand Me Down’
Last Battle ‘Any Ocean’
The Last Battle are playing there tomorrow at 3, right next door in Red Dog Music. Remember, a record shop is for life, not just Record Store Day…