Recently I saw an article about Record Store Day and how very small independent labels aren’t seeing a benefit. One owner said that if every day was treated more like RSD than perhaps it would get better results. The other complaint is that big labels waiting to release on Record Store Day squeezes the smaller labels out in terms of printing the records to begin with.
From a record buyer point of view, I’m not sure I get the complaints about big vs. small labels, but I do get that treating all releases like they are part of Record Store Day may pay dividends. In this world where many people just don’t see the value in paying for something they can download or stream for free, music has the feeling of being as disposable as the toys you get for free with the kids menu at the fast food chain. Play with it for a week than toss it, because if you didn’t pay for it, it just doesn’t mean shit anyway.
Instead of offering some downloadable shit sounding garbage, you offer a unique product that plays on multiple formats of a listener’s choice.
Musicians make a product that is collectible, so that fans don’t just want to hear your song, but also feel they must have what you’re selling. Give it colour, give it flash, and make it really damn cool.
On Black Friday/Record Store Day back in November 2014, I missed out on J. Mascis doing a cover of the 90’s cult classic “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star. It is a phenomenal song that you have probably heard play in the background of some moving scene from a number of various movies and TV shows. Seriously, a quick internet search came up with 39 instances in which it was used.
Anyway, Mascis released a very limited amount as a 7” inch single and every record store in the city was sold out of their few copies by the following day. I was able to eventually find a copy, but that was after months of searching. Now yes, I could hear it on Spotify, or buy it from itunes, but I’m a fan. J. Mascis and his band Dinosaur Jr. They are not some disposable artists who I toss on a mix and forget about, they are legendary artists who continue to make relevant music and deserve to make a living from it. In turn, they have not only supplied great music and performances, but done events and created product that their fans believe in. Some of it is released on RSD and some not, but it is all very cool.
Hell, Mascis and fellow Dinosaur Jr. member Lou Barlow signed a poster for my 5 year old son after an acoustic show a few years back, which is the kind of gesture that can help to create lifelong fans who are vocal about purchasing the music of the bands they love. (It also had nothing to do with RSD.)
My point of course though, isn’t just about RSD. Earlier this year the Posies re-released their debut record Failure on vinyl for the first time. It was put out by Omnivore Records as a limited print on yellow 180 gram vinyl. Failure had been long out of print and highly sought after by fans. So now, a person can test drive this record on Spotify if they don’t know the music, but if like me, you are a fan, here is a very cool copy in your hands, and a download card so you can take your music on the road to play on your ‘whatever’ device. Again, it is very cool product that doesn’t wait for a special day to be released.
Each week I see new releases on vinyl being put out in cool new ways, and when an artist I love matches up with product I can hold in my hands for a great listening experience, then I drop some coin and pray they sell enough music to continue making a living off this crazy music biz. The only difficulty for people who like vinyl is finding all the cool things out there, but then again, that is also part of the fun.