Record Store Day is once again upon us, with its candy-colored vinyl and improbably in-store performances and endless lines. Like anything that becomes popular, the holiday is starting to develop detractors among music fans who see it as everything from a pain in the ass to a gimmicky, patronizing tourist trap.
We admit we have doubts of our own, so we asked Paul Epstein from Twist and Shout and Brian Rooney from Angelo's to tell us what they think of the holiday. Is Record Store Day a way to "celebrate and spread the unique culture surrounding independently owned record stores" like it says in the press kit?
Shawn White: Does Record Store Day really help business in the long term?
Brian Rooney, Angelo's Records: Financially, it is pretty much just the one day. But people are excited about it pretty much the whole year. We love the crowds and the excitement, them getting the experience of shopping in a record store. We work hard with our midnight sales and other events to keep people coming in on a regular basis.
Paul Epstein, Twist and Shout: Maybe if we were a regular record store, this would be a gigantic bump in traffic, and as it is it's still a big day for us. It's great and it gets bigger every year. The scope of this day has grown, there seems to be an increased public and media awareness, and after that, there are more people who become interested in the store and collecting records.
Does Record Store Day reward regular patrons or just newcomers?
PE: It's impossible to really say, because I'm not in the store all the time. We do get new Denver people in, and I know we get people from Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska who drive in for the occasion. It's complicated, but these people are definitely fans.
BR: We see a little of both. (new people and regulars) We definitely see people interested months ahead of time. People will start talking about the next one as soon as this one is over. It gives people an excuse to talk about record stores which is always good. Some people go to Twist and Shout or some other store and don't know about us, and they find out about us that day, because another store is sold out of what they are looking for.
Do you think the special releases are worthwhile?
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PE: The releases are a huge enticement for our customers. No matter what people think of band X or digital downloads, if you're a Beatles fan and there's a Beatles release, you want that release on Record Store Day. There is some of it that's absolutely stellar, and some of it that I look at and say, "That's an absolute piece of crap." But there are labels like Light in the Attic, Matador and Warner Brothers that are genuine companies that know about putting out quality products. We've posted several of these picks to our YouTube channel.
BR: I definitely love a lot of the record store day releases. If there was a little more certainty around who's going to have what, I would appreciate that. The current system creates too much uncertainty. From a collectors' stand-point, some releases are intentionally created to increase in value quickly. Some do it much more naturally, and some create it artificially.
Does Record Store Day relate to what you do the rest of the year?
PE:These types of events is what we have spent the last 30 years in Denver trying to do anyway. We do performance events, meet and greets, and listening events year round.
BR: We are open at midnight on Friday night for Record Store Day, so that's a bonus. Beyond Record Store Day, we try to do as many midnight sales and special events we can around highly anticipated releases. It's supposed to be an experience and every store is going to tell you that they have the best experience. And they do!
Is Record Store Day a well-run organization?
BR: These guys definitely know what they are doing. Record Store Day has definitely made this store some money over the years. I would like to meet the guy that started it, and shake his hand. One thing I wish they did was press more CDs, which as a store is your bread and butter. I love vinyl and we are selling more of it than ever, but just as many people want to see these releases on CD.
PE: It would be nice if there was more emphasis on stimulating traffic for record stores all year long. But that's something that we make it a point to do through our events and by being active on social media. It's still a huge, huge bump, it is our biggest day of the year by far, bigger than Christmas!
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