The Problem With Record Store Day

Posted: April 13, 2014 in Articles
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Saturday the 19th of April is the annual record collector holiday, Record Store Day. The first RSD was held on April 19th, 2008, and was independent music retail’s answer to Free Comic Book Day, which is held at comic book stores across the nation. RSD’s intent is to get exclusive product for mom and pop, brick and mortar record stores and help struggling retailers from closing due to the influx of big box stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, which traditionally devalued music by using it as a loss leader. While a great strategy for immediate results, the long-term effect resulted in music being almost invisible at big box retailers. What else would you expect from Wal-Mart?

That original edition of RSD in 2008 included releases by Death Cab For Cutie, R.E.M., Vampire Weekend, Stephen Malkmus, – essentially the hipster music collective. With each successive RSD the releases have become more numerous and genres more diverse.

For this years edition the releases number in the hundreds and contain reissues no one wanted. A previously available Christian Death reissue 7” with new artwork in an edition of 2500 units. Really? Consumers want this, and in those kinds of quantities? Other highlights include not one, but two Everly Brothers reissues on vinyl, Otis Redding, vinyl, and lullabies of David Bowie songs on vinyl. Most of these are questionable releases at least.

This isn’t to say there aren’t some exciting titles included on the schedule. Machine Head, for example are releasing a 10” EP with a new track on the A side and two Ignite covers on the B side, while Opeth is reissuing 2008’s Watershed album on double green marble vinyl. My personal favorite is the TAANG! Records: The First Ten Singles box set. Each 7” is housed in full on recreations of the original jacket. Lot’s of time and effort has gone into putting this release together.

More after the break including a list of this years metal and punk titles:

Here’s a list of Metal/Punk releases for Record Store Day 2014:

††† (Crosses), ‘One’ — RSD Limited Run
††† (Crosses), ‘Three’ — RSD Limited Run
††† (Crosses), ‘Two’ — RSD Limited Run
311, ’311′ — RSD First Release
311, ‘Evolver’ — RSD First Release
Aerosmith, ‘Draw the Line’ — RSD First Release
Aerosmith, ‘Night in the Ruts’ — RSD First Release
Aerosmith, ‘Rock in a Hard Place’ — RSD First Release
Between the Buried and Me, ‘Colors_Live’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Cage the Elephant, ‘Take It or Leave It’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Cake, ‘Vinyl Box Set’ — RSD Limited Run
Cancerous Growth, ‘Cancer Causing Agents: A Cancerous Growth Discography’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Chiodos, ‘R2ME2 / Let Me Get You a Towel’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Christian Death, ‘The Edward Colver Edition’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Clutch / Lionize, ‘Split 7′ — RSD Exclusive Release
Die Kreuzen, ‘Cows and Beers 12″‘ — RSD Limited Run
Die Kreuzen, ‘Cows and Beers’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Dinosaur, Jr., ‘Visitors’ — RSD First Release
Dream Theater, ‘Illumination Theory’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Fishbone, ‘Fishbone’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Five Finger Death Punch, ‘Purgatory: Tales from the Pit’ — RSD Limited Run
Ghoul, ‘Hang Ten’ — RSD Limited Run
Gojira, ‘The Way of All Flesh’ — RSD Limited Run
Green Day, ‘Demolicious’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Husker Du, ‘Candy Apple Grey’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Khlyst, ‘Chaos is My Name’ — RSD First Release
Korn, ‘The Paradigm Shift Picture Disc’ — RSD Limited Run
Machine Head, ‘A New Machine’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Mastodon, ‘Live at Brixton’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Middle Class Rut, ‘Factories & Indians’ — RSD Limited Run
Motorhead, ‘Aftershock’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Mudhoney, ‘On Top’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Nirvana, ‘Pennyroyal Tea’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Opeth, ‘Watershed’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Poison Idea / Pantera, ‘The Badge’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Slipknot, ‘Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses)’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Soundgarden, ‘Superunknown: The Singles’ — RSD Exclusive Release
The Pogues, ‘Live with Joe Strummer’ — RSD Exclusive Release
The Ramones, ‘Meltdown with the Ramones’ — RSD Exclusive Release
The Sonics / Mudhoney, ‘Bad Betty / I Like it Small’ — RSD Limited Run
The Stranglers, ‘Peaches / Go Buddy Go’ — RSD Limited Run
The Velvet Underground, ‘Loaded’ — RSD Exclusive Release
Toxic Reasons, ‘Ghost Town’ — RSD Limited Run
Toxic Reasons, ‘Live Berkeley Square: December 1981′ — RSD Limited Run
Toxic Reasons, ‘War Hero’ — RSD Limited Run
Type O Negative, ‘Slow, Deep and Hard’ — RSD Exclusive Release


What started as a way to drive customers into independent retail has brought some unintended consequences along as well. What began as a well intentioned showing of good will, quickly devolved into a cash grab by the labels; indie and major alike. This is the same mentality that got the major labels in trouble just before the meteoric rise of Napster. Too many releases at a time, plain and simple. While I don’t see this as a cash grab like the late 90’s early 00’s, where most records had one hit, if any; it’s just another example of the excess of the major labels and the indie labels attempts to keep up. Too much product, especially those sold on a one-way basis (no returns) is never a good thing.

The other major concern is the credit issues this amount of releases produces. As sales of physical product have been on a steady decline since the early 2000s, so have accounts credit lines. The few stores that have been able to remain open have had to do so with less ability to put product on the shelves. Being able to only extend themselves so far means taking a hit on RSD, or not being able to stock the proper amount of current, proper albums. One store I spoke with commented that he, “Received 52 boxes of product for RSD, and I expect more next week.” With that much product coming down the pipeline in one week, how are stores expected to stock enough catalog titles. Not to mention the new release titles coming out during that month-long window. Two weeks prior to RSD and two weeks after can be a new album killer for new releases.

In the future RSD executives need to adjust their plans accordingly. The joke the first year of the promotion was, “Shouldn’t everyday be record store day?” Maybe it should; or at least change the current reality. Have a RSD one Saturday every month with fewer overall titles each promotional day. Maybe break some of them down by genre, or maybe have labels submit a list of possible titles for inclusion in the campaign with the stores themselves voting for which they deem worthy of being included in that month’s campaign. In reality, twelve Record Store Days a year is better than one, right?

–Brain Trust–

  1. […] artist, which is what I usually cover, The Jam were essentially the punk answer to The Who.  I wrote a piece last week covering the negative impact the current incarnation of the “Holiday” has on […]

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