Record Store Day 2014: A Buyer’s Guide

For those who have been following Record Store Day you’ll know that it’s really exploded since its inception in 2007, growing from a humble 80 releases in 2007 to a staggering 700+ releases today.

It wasn’t hard to find the hidden gems a few years ago – with only 80 releases to consider it pr practically came down to taste alone – but with its massive growth and the spread of major labels replacing what was originally a rather independent fair there’s much more to consider. This is less about what are the best releases and more what to do before you even consider buying them.

This year’s list is an interesting affair with some great gems hidden amongst the rough but with it quickly becoming a bloated list of big labels trying to earn some extra cash with little thought, you’re going to have to be sharp on your toes. Here are some tips to help you decide what to walk away with and what to leave on the shelf:

• Avoid every Plastichead release – Plastichead don’t have the best reputation of being consumer friendly in the first place but for the past 2 years they’ve gone to a whole new level, re-releasing records currently still in press from them, just with a new colourway and a heftily increased price tag for something that is more hassle to get hold of. Do not encourage them, avoid at all costs!

• Check out previous pressing information – this stems from the above; many records on the list are have been pressed and repressed to the nth degree. These releases are less about getting records out there and more with record labels wanting you to buy a fresh rather than a second hand copy. Some of these releases are incredibly easy to get hold of on record and as CD copies second hand, even new.

• Don’t get ripped off – it’s easy to get swept up in the day and just wanting that ‘rare copy of x’, but is what their charging worth what it costs? With the Jay-Z/Linkin Park collaboration 12” rumoured to cost £40 per copy remember this – the cost of it being pressed, printed and shipped would cost less than £4 per unit. That’s just not cool.

• Don’t get sucked into boxsets – there’s been a growing number of albums being repressed from an LP 12” version to a boxset of 7″s. Whilst this maybe be a more interesting form of presentation it’s usually just being used to charge even more for what is essentially old material. If you bought 7 2 track 7″s and paid £65, would you feel that that is a fair price? If so go ahead, but otherwise it might just be worth going on eBay and grabbing the original 12”.

• New releases may not be exclusive – Unless it categorically says the release you’re after is only available during Record Store Day, then it is likely to get repressed or go for general sale a few months or even weeks later without the added record store day cost.

• Do support your local record shops. There are been many a shop called out for allowing RSD to happen at their establishment, but they usually have good reason to and that reason is that one day a year keeps them open every day of the year. So go out and support them, go out and do it any day, don’t just wait for RSD. They’ll have great records all year around – even some from previous record store days – so go in, have a rummage, and actually look for bands you’re interested in.

There is a good chance that from current trends, the way Record Store Day is going will become a bubble, a bubble fed from a corporate culture trying to maximise earnings with a little effort as possible. With many releases playing safe and being guaranteed draws to fans of the bands the original effort put in to get fresh music onto records has somewhat subsided. If it carries on this route, which since there’s no lack of encouragement currently it will carry on, they’ll reach either a tipping point where overconfident labels will press too much, not get back the sales and simply pull out of supporting RSD ‘for not meeting target expectations’ or the consumer will abandon the day for not having anything worth going to get, causing both labels and the shops to lose out on a massive possible bankrupting scale.

So buyers beware, before the current model becomes too ingrained to claw back from.