Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Few Quick Thoughts On Record Store Day

I wasn't able to make it to my favorite record stores, since both of them are in New Orleans. But a friend hit a few in NYC, and he took along both of our want lists.  Here's his report:

Went to J&R. I thought they might carry some of the releases we'd be interested in. I got there around noonish. They had a bunch of records on Record Store Day all about Ozzy vinyl reissues?... and a wire rack with shit just thrown in. People were all over it like one of those bridal gown sales.

Record browsing etiquette was out the window.  I'm looking through a row of 45s and someone starts flicking through the same row about 10 records ahead of me. That's a no-no. I was about the ask the guy if he thought this was a buddy booth or something. But everyone was grabbing, cutting across arms.  Personal space was invaded like only a record geek can.

What a mess. 

There was no rhyme or reason to anything. I saw a box of the new Paul Simon on vinyl halfway open and halfway crushed. The albums are warped for sure.

I managed to find TR's Johnson. But it was only on CD, not vinyl. I got one for you and one for me.
I attempted to ask a worker a question about what they received. He dismissed me, and ran away while pointing at the mess, "Whatever's there."

I went back to brooklyn.  I went to a store called Sound Fix ( or something like that).
They were boasting about being the only store with the exclusive Damon and Naomi Record Store Day 45. No one seemed to give a shit. I think they were going to perform in the shop as well. I didn't see much there.  I did spot a Fleetwood Mac's Rumours LP. Is that part of this celebration?

Nothing to find there.

I passed through Greenpoint and stopped at Permanent Records. It was packed.  I looked through their pile and found two 45s I already bought at J & R, the New Pornographers and Blitzen Trapper.  I overheard some Jon Lovitz type griping about not finding the Big Star Third on vinyl. He was  losing it, he couldn't accept that it wasn't there. He was demanding they call their distributor to find out who got it.


The one item at the top of my list was the Foo Fighters LP of covers, which is now being sold by a ton of distributors on eBay for an average of $50, while the Big Star is going for close to $200!  Ya think maybe the record store owners didn't bother putting these items out for display, knowing full well they could hoard them, and prey upon the desperate fanatics who wouldn't think twice about paying through the nose?

I wish I could say, "Good for you, Record Stores! Make your money!" I mean, it seems they've been getting the shit end of the industry stick for a while. But I can't help but see how once again, the real fans got shut out. Ticket scalping or record scalping--doesn't matter. They both suck.


Anonymous said...

RSD is wack.
You should reopen NYCD and show people how it's done, Sal.

Sammy said...

I've read several posts from members of my soul group who encountered long lines and got shut out of most everything they had come for; apparantly your friend's report was par for the course...too bad...on the other hand, for those interested in records and not necessarily the latest releases, the flea market and tag sale season is just beginning...don't knock it 'till you've tried a few...

YankeeBoy said...

Saturday in NYC being the nasty mess it was, I decided not to participate in any RSD 'festivities'. But your story doesn't surprise me in the least. I agree with you 100 percent about your scalping theory and I also agree even more that it sucks - if it's true.

Anonymous said...

Looney Tunes in West Babylon (out on long island) had tons of the releases. I even scored an International Submarine Band (limited to 1000). They are probably the biggest indie left around here.

Big Jim Slade said...

Sorry that this is off-topic.

Back when blogs were young (I just wanted to type that), some of the blogs I read (lefty political blogs) had what they called Lurker Days. Or something to that effect. You see, they realized that there were people who read the blogs, but rarely, if ever, comment. These folks were referred to as lurkers. It wasn't an insult or anything, just a cool name - you gotta call them (us) something... Anyway, a Lurker day was an invitation for the Lurkers to announce themselves to the community - let all the others know they were out there, and foster a little extra communication.

Your "Favre retirement" unintentionally worked as a Lurker day. I suggest that once a month or so - give a shout out to the lurkers and tell us to say hello and maybe mention something we've heard recently that we like.

And welcome back!

Les said...

I think you are dead on about holding back some records since some RSD releases were put on Ebay last week. I opt'd for the vinyl sale at the fairgrounds today instead, just to avoid the insanity. I figured since I didn't want any RSD releases, I could support my fav record store, well, any other day.

James A. Gardner said...

My plans to hit my favorite indie record store got derailed (we took my mother-in-law to a funeral instead). The manager told me earlier in the week that they tried, and failed to get a copy of the Big Star re-release, but had two copies of the 78 rpm "Good Vibrations."
I'm hoping one will still be around if when I get there tomorrow, but I suspect speculators already have them posted to eBay by now.

Sal Nunziato said...

Hey Jag! Just checked. Beach Boys selling for $40!

Les, Get anything off my want list?

Big Jim,
I think it's a great idea. Can I name the day after you?

"Big Jim's Monthly Lurker Day?"

Thanks for the notes.

Anonymous said...

Little on my list at my local Newbury Comics, but to be fair, they have like 30 locations, and I probably needed to go downtown for a better selection.

TWO favorite record stores in Nola? I know Louisiana Music Factory. What's the other one?

- bill buckner

Sal Nunziato said...

Euclid opened there last September. In the Bywater.

Bill Wagner said...

Guys, I disagree. Like Sammy, I think you are focusing too much on "the RSD special releases" -- and not realizing the bad, bad shape record stores are in and the need to remind the general public that they even exist. With special events like this.

Plus, I'll venture a comment here that may smack of the type of casual condecension that southerners sometimes accuse northerners of -- when our northern friends give us the "anywhere outside of NYC is nowheresville, baby" -- and say maybe the reactions here might be tied to the region you're describing. I apologize in advance if this comment smacks of that.

I live in Atlanta and had a perfectly wonderful record store day here. Visited four stores and experienced not a moment of pushing, shoving, or dented boxes of records. It was a day of catching up with musically-inclined friends and making a few new acquaintances.

Let me also say I don't offer these thoughts to be combative or to imply that tired argument that southerners are "nicer" than northerners or any of that. Several of my best buds hail from the north, and I love that part of the country.

I'm just saying that where you some of you guys live might tie into your feelings about this. Perhaps in NYC there's more of a fever pitch towards buying and reselling. Maybe in some other markets, Record Store Day is more about what I mentioned - connecting with old friends, hearing some live music in record stores (always a thrill -- saw several great band yesterday), having some free beer which some stores proffered, and going home knowing it's actually not a great day to "shop for music," ironically, but it is a great day FOR music.

Rushbo said...

Events like this bring out worst in some people. I spent enough time with my ma in department store sales to realise that normal rules do not apply when it comes to shopping.
My experience was a lot less fraught. My local (by local, I mean a 40 minute drive) record shop had almost everything I wanted in stock (I guess it was naive to think they'd still have the Queen release at midday) - in fact when I told the sales assistant I'd left my list behind, he let me go through all the back-up stock they had behind the counter. This meant that for about 15 minutes, the poor guy had to bend into various Yoga positions around me to serve customers.
Sadly, it's inevitable that copies of the higher profile releases will hit the black market and inevitable that there will be an undignified scrum to grab the biggies. That's as true for record sales as it is for handbag sales...I should know as my ma LOVED handbags. The idea was to get people (back) into record shops - the limited stuff was the 'bait' I guess. I was lucky and I left with the stuff I wanted (Blitzen Trapper, Parsons, Rush) but I also left with a handful of other stuff and that's the point.
It may not be the most elegant way to get people into record shops again, but after speaking to the staff at my local(ish) store, it was certainly the best day they'd had in a while and it wasn't just the premium releases that were selling.
If you see stuff on Ebay etc, it's up to you whether you buy it or not.

Sal Nunziato said...

@Bill Wagner,

Well done.

There's some bitterness involved on my part, as I once owned a record store that my partner and I never expected to shut down as soon as we did. So RSD for me, is a little too late.

But as a lifelong New Yorker, I can no longer defend this city, and I certainly take no offense in your observations. I only wish I could have experienced the weekend in New Orleans...or Atlanta...or even West Babylon to grab one of those International Submarine Band LPs like Anonymous.

You make good points. Thanks for sharing.

Sal Nunziato said...


Again, more good points. Still, no less frustrating.

William Repsher said...

Sal, I'd love to read at least one post regarding your experiences as a record store owner. Surely, located where you were, there must be the odd celebrity story, or artists whose work you love (or hate) walking in, various shaggy dog stories with customers and employees, etc. High Fidelity was a pretty good read (don't ask about the movie), but something tells me you could do the topic more justice than Nick Hornby. For a lot of us, that record-store experience was a weekly (or more) ritual, one that now seems long gone or overly romanticized. Of all people, you would know better.

Les said...

Almost but not quite. One seller had Bowie, "The Man..." but it was Mercury and no poster (yet still marked $35) and also Sweet,"Give Us a Wink" but it was a re-issue. ($6) I was one step behind someone else looking for Seger. I'm totally hooked on the hunt.

Bill Wagner said...

Thanks Sal... and correct me if I'm wrong, but did William Repsher just provide a nice basis for a future Weekend Mix -- songs about record stores? Could be cool...

Anonymous said...

This is not about RSD this is about BW. I just learned about you from Huffingtonpost Tech, Holly Cara Prince listed you as one of the 12 blogs that matters. I am reading a few and can't wait to start commenting once I figure out the vibe...

Glad you are staying around, because cool music matters.

jimbo said...

RSD in Minneapolis was actually quite orderly. The largest indie store, The Electric Fetus, learned their lessons three years ago when it was mostly chaos for the first half-hour as everything was bought up by speculators leaving everyone else empty-handed. Now they issue numbers to those queued up, let in 4 at a time to a separate section and limit everyone to no more than 15 items, no more than 1 of a title. Works quite well if you arrive early.

A smaller shop, Hymie's Records, received fewer items so they made it a scavenger hunt, placing their RSD items throughout the racks so you had to actually browse to find them. I found quite a few non-RSD things to purchase, which fittingly enough is the primary reason to bring customers into the store. Treehouse Records kept updating their Facebook page as to what was still in their racks, which made for greater ease of searching around town for specific items. All well-thought strategies, IMO.

I spoke with several store owner/managers in advance and they all agreed that while they could make a profit re-selling RSD merch on ebay, it defeated their own long-term best interests in drawing new customers to their stores. Also, since the RSD folks claim to blackball those they catch diverting stock, they viewed that doing so would be another nail in their store's coffin.

I picked up a few things I wanted, missed out on a few, but came away pretty well pleased. All the live music & snacks were a bonus as well!

BMoney976 said...

Personally, I love the CONCEPT of RSD far more than the actual day itself...
I love that it gets people excited about new music (especially when it is in vinyl format).
But what I hate is that it does tend to make any semblance of civility go out the window, much as those damnable Black Friday sales do. A vast number of normal record geeks that would strike up a conversation with you as you browse are reduced to scowling scavengers, especially when one happens to glom onto something limited that they too wanted...
I choose not to participate in the hunt. While I'd love to have that limited-edition, numbered, seafoam slab of deliciousness that _____ put out this year, I won't fight someone over it. And I won't pay through the nose on eBay for it, either.
Especially since I'm pretty sure that only a handful of what's sent to the stores actually go anywhere other than the store owner's/employee's trunk.
If you're into the hunt, then good for you.
Me, I'd rather shop at my local shops the OTHER 364 days of the year.

Big Jim Slade said...

Hah! You can call it whatever you want. My name's Mike actually, but one day when trying to think of a nom de comments, for some reason some old scenes from Kentucky Fried Movie were on my mind, and the ridiculous character of Big Jim Slade.