Why Does Record Store Day Matter? Let an Actual Record Store Owner Explain

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Chuck Armstrong, Diffuser

Judy Mills owns and operates Mills Record Company in Kansas City, Missouri.

It’s fun when you discover a band before their first record comes out, before they get signed and they’re making demos on used tapes they find at thrift stores. And when they start to sound too polished by their second record, or get to big, we wax nostalgic about that raw energy we miss or how they’re no longer hungry or true to their sound. I get it. I’ve been that person.

But please, let’s not do this with Record Store Day.

I own a record store. I opened it almost two years ago and it’s doubled in size during that time. I have great people who helped make that happen and have a kind caring community of local artists and musicians who have made this the record store it is.

And without Record Store Day, my store would be smaller in its reach, customer base and ability to serve the community.

After reading many recent articles splaying Record Store Day — both the organization itself and many of the large distributors and labels that support the day — all written by people who do not directly pay their bills by selling records, I decided it’s time to speak up. I understand the nuance of a situation is more difficult to examine and discussing polarities draws a quick audience. But the truth of Record Store Day, as I see it, an owner of a record store, is somewhere in the middle — and that is often an overlooked story.

First of all, one of the reasons Record Store Day works (and it does work) is that it reminds people that music can be touched. That you can get in your car, visit a small business that sells physical music, be greeted with a smile and have a music conversation, and meet like-minded people in your very own community. That’s a pretty big win right there. Sure, there might be low margin, highly sought after exclusives thrown in the mix, but we’re still discussing the pros, not the cons.

Being small means you can make your own choices and stock the titles you believe in but it also means that you don’t get the corporate ad dollars and incentives that drive people to your stores versus a Hot Topic or Urban Outfitters; anything free that reminds people that I’m here is a big bonus. And Record Store Day, the day and the organization, provides that.

It also provides an audience that wants to buy a 7″ red record shaped like the state of Alabama an opportunity to get out of bed and get in line at 6AM. Some of us would never do that, but thank God, some of you do. Or will, tomorrow. Vinyl is reaching a new customer and with that comes a demand that many staid record store owners can’t fully get behind.

Read more at Diffuser FM

Buy Record Store Day 2015 items at 991.com

 

 

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