Tuesday, 22 April 2014

National Rip-Off Day: Record Store Day 2014

I'm not expecting this article to go down well with everyone, mainly because even I once agreed with the ideals and goals of record store day, I queued up from 6am in the freezing cold to get my hands on the Blur Fool's Day 7” and the Radiohead Supercollider 12”, twice I've even been 1st in the queue, so yeah I've always been a nerdy record collector. And to be completely honest, I loved waiting in line, the camaraderie of discussing which records you wanted with others in the line, holding places while people went to get refreshments for each other, those cups of tea took the edge off the cold. Hoping that no-one in front of you was going to get the last copy of the main record you wanted, not to mention trawling through the release list prior to going, making your own list of the records you were after. On top of all this there was the good it did for all your favourite little record shops, extra revenue, extra exposure, people might hang around and buy more records after browsing, or it might re-ignite the collector in some who will go more often and pick up more music in general. I want to make it perfectly clear I completely support and recommend all of this.

Now the average vinyl price has jumped up a lot over the last 5 years or so, the average cost of a 7” circa 2009 was anything between £2-£3, it's now around £6-£7, I have no idea why the costs have increased quite so much, maybe the materials cost more these days? If anyone can shed light on this I'd love to know, same with LP's which have gone from around £10-£12 to £17-£20, again quite a jump in 5 years but prices are what they are. So over the last 2 years I've had to give record store day a miss due to getting married and having kids etc... Things are now getting back on track this year, so I thought, I'm gonna go for it again. I got my list ready...

Gloria Jones – Tainted Love 7”
Nirvana – Pennyroyal Tea 7”
Pantera / Poison Idea – The Badge 7”
Joy Division – An Ideal For Living EP 12”
Green Day – Demolicious CD
Radkey – 9 Lives MC

...some great records, some I'd love to have, luckily before I set off on the first bus of the day into Leeds centre Crash records posted the price list.

Nirvana and Pantera 7” records £11.99 each!!

So, despite the massive rise in vinyl costs over the last 5 years, somehow these two records have also boosted in price by another £5 or more, checkout the artwork on the Pantera record, it cost the label the price of a fucking sticker!

Gloria Jones – Tainted Love 7” £7.99

Not quite as bad, but still excessive for a record in a paper sleeve.

Joy Division – An Ideal For Living EP 12” £17.99

For a 4 song EP, that's more than some albums cost.

Green Day – Demolicious CD £15.99

When was the last time you paid over £15 for a fucking CD that wasn't a deluxe 2/3 disc version? And this is just a collection of rough demo tracks, now I know some will say, you don't have to pay these costs it's a choice, these people are entirely missing the point that you shouldn't be getting ripped off to help support your local stores.

Radkey – 9 Lives Live Tape £??

Oh and this one wasn't available in the Leeds stores, funny enough the XFM sessions LP for Warchild, a record that actually should have cost a little more to make more for charity, was actually a very reasonable £10, work that one out.

So, why the huge increase in price? If the stores themselves had boosted the prices to make more money, while I would still feel a little aggrieved, it would be understandable, they need this day and the revenue to keep doing what they do. Unfortunately I have the obvious feeling (and once again feel free to correct me on this) that the increase has come from the label end, once again finding a way to ruin and take advantage of something that music lovers throughout the country hold close. So forgive me if I'm not going to queue up in the cold for hours to spend £66 on one 12”, three 7” records and one CD, where just 2-3 years ago I would have got more than double this for the same price.

Now I'm not saying don't buy records, in fact I recommend going to your local record shop as often as possible, but instead of paying £15 or more for a Green Day demo CD, go another day and spend £10 on a 3CD b-side collection by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds like I got from Jumbo records in Leeds recently.

Or take a chance on a local band like when I picked up the NARCS album based on an employee review for £6-£7, most decent record shops will have a local band section to help you. Now I realise that on some releases you can end up paying an extra pound or so at the smaller shops, but that extra is helping keep these shops alive, shops where the staff actually know their music and can help you pick new records out.

But don't just support the shops, support the artists themselves where you can, get the new Antemasque album from At the Drive-In/Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez and Cedric Bixler on their bandcamp for a minimum of $4 to download, that's less than £3 for a full album.


Or pledge to get albums made, yeah there are a few taking advantage of this but the good far outweigh the bad, for £30 I recently pledge to help CJ Wildheart record his new solo album 'Mable', in return I get to go see him perform a solo acoustic show in Leeds, get a signed CD and a professional photo with him.


The Sunshine Underground recently did a pledge for their new album, pledges had to chance to get free tickets to a show down south with more promised in future.


Ginger Wildheart's new G.A.S.S. Fanclub is offering £30 membership for a year, which gives you 3 new songs a month, plus a few rarities and much more, all for just £2.50 a month.


Follow bands on facebook, The Deadcuts recently asked fans to help out with the mixing costs of their d├ębut album, offering signed copies in return for the help.


To sum up, support artists, independent shops, independent labels as much as you can, as often as you can, but don't let the greed of major labels get involved and take their cut which is more than anyone else's involved.

Instead of illegally downloading music, try packages like Emusic, where it's less per download, I've discovered some amazing bands on there.


Go to the shows as much as you can, buy the albums direct from the band, it's often cheaper, buy a t-shirt, buy the band a pint if they're new and have no label backing, spend ages thumbing through records reading the store review, taking chances on something new.

I openly welcome criticism or comments or corrections to this article, and hope you can understand where I'm coming from, like most readers I'm just a music lover wanting to make a difference.

1 comment:

Jeremy Shatan said...

I agree with a lot of what you have to say here. RSD does little to develop the habit of shopping in record stores. I delineate my experience here, with some ideas for the future: http://anearful.blogspot.com/2014/04/rsd-2014.html#.U1b7mOZdWw0