I’ve been pretty merciless in my critiques of Record Store Day for the last two days on my Twitter feed. It’s kind of like attacking kitten lovers or some such, doesn’t exactly make you many friends. But that’s fine. I did want to quickly explain part of the reason why I have issues with this new found “Holiday” since it ties into much bigger issues.
Firstly, I should say that Used Vinyl shops & digger spots are seemingly on the rise. I’ve seen more pop up and more stay in business then I’ve ever experienced in NYC. In New York only 5-10 years ago spots would open and close up in two to three year intervals. Now some digging locations have become institutions from the East Village all the way to Williamsburg and many places in between. This is a great thing, not just for music, but for art as it keeps great performances alive and people truly interested in music. I fully support these businesses and hope they made a killing on Record Store Day.
My bigger issue with Record Store Day is that it’s somehow in support of the “Independent Music Store” that is involved with selling new releases and that it can help preserve these somehow suddenly cherished institutions. I find it ironic that the very people in many cases that torrent all their music and steal at will then lecture others about how they need to go out and support small businesses ONE DAY a year. And that it’s the same torrent ideology that claims “the record stores were charging 17.99 for a CD, so that’s why we started downloading things”. I don’t want to make this yet another post about illegal file sharing or pirating or whatever you want to call it. It’s bigger then just that issue. But to me, it’s like a murderer visiting his victim’s funeral. It’s a bit revolting actually.
I realize that not everyone steals music, some people really do shop at physical stores year round because their life revolves around staring at that amazing artwork that is derived from everyone’s favorite format, the CD, which is far more exciting then the MP3 right? I’m sure there are people that take the stance that they only buy vinyl that comes on a multi-colored disc, packaged in Gold and wrapped in silk as well. Or else it’s steal away time. So their appearance at the local record shop should be cherished right? They’ve earned at least the ability to pat themselves on the back, if not some sort of medal/monument.
At the same time, on the other side of the counter you have the hard working record shop owner. Wait, isn’t that the same guy that wouldn’t buy our shit a few years ago? Isn’t that the guy that insisted on insane consignment contracts? Isn’t that the guy that buried our music in a rack and waited for someone with knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System to walk by and dig out our CD? Isn’t that the guy who NEVER plays any NEW music from lesser known or local acts in his store? Isn’t that the SAME guy who won’t carry music that isn’t in a Jewel Case? As if that’s a bar for anything.
A quick aside, yes. I did have someone tell me once that they wouldn’t carry our CDs because they came in cardboard sleeves. Let’s process this now. Our CDs have bar codes, are shrink wrapped, at times feature artists that are known world wide and/or are legends in hip-hop BUT because we don’t have a jewel case you won’t carry us? Even at consignment? Even though people that shop at your store are fully aware of our label? Oh, I see. Thanks, we’ll be in business far longer then you, good luck out there.
So now I’ve painted a small picture of the scene today. MOSTLY, and I use the term MOSTLY on purpose because it’s not all. But mostly we have out of touch and lazy business owners being propped up by selfish and self serving customers for ONE DAY a year and I’m supposed to act like this is making a difference why?
I compare Record Store Day sort of to KONY 2012. It’s a bunch of people trying to pretend they are making a difference in a situation that is realistically unchangeable and even if it were, they don’t fully understand the situation fully anyway.
So forgive me, I’m all out of pity. My heart is still pretty broken about Fat Beats closing. If Fat Beats can’t be saved then none of em can be saved. Call me cynical, go ahead. I’m off to read the tweets reminiscing about Captain Planet that are supposed to have something to do with Earth Day.