24 April 2014

Record Store Day 2014 and Why It's Hard To Feel Sorry For The Indies.

It emerged today that Paul Weller was feeling a little disheartened by eBay touts after his Record Store Day 'Brand New Toy' limited vinyl was spotted being flogged on eBay at inflated prices. Weller, a supporter of Record Store Day and independent record shops has said that he will not be taking part next year as he feels the day’s message has been well and truly lost.
Some RSD purchases.
I completely agree with the man. Far too often, genuine fans lose out on rarities and front row seats to touts hoping to make a pretty penny in their PayPal accounts and this year’s event was no exception, causing a lot of musos to go home empty handed and blurring the sentiment that RSD was designed to promote.
However, it’s not just touts that stand to ruin all that is good about this musical day, as I found when I ventured into Liverpool last Saturday.
Unlike many of the early risers this year, I was not in line for any exclusive, multi-coloured, 1 in no chance of getting one, releases. I was simply there just to soak up some genuine atmosphere and maybe pick up some CD’s I have been meaning to fill my overflowing shelf with.
Yet when my sister and I plodded on into a couple of the city’s prime vinyl hotspots, it was hard to shake the feeling of ‘you don’t belong here.’
Call me paranoid, but for years now I have felt the same shudder numerous times when entering specialist shops. It’s not just records either, comic shops, instruments and retro gaming stores give off the exact same vibe to anyone who dares ask a question or simply just wants to have a look around.
‘What?! You want to be served in this shop?!’ – well actually no not really, which is precisely why I proudly went to music giant HMV and pretty much emptied my purse. Hardly a victory but giving in to ‘the man’ somehow felt more fulfilling.
For so long now, specialist shops have cried out for help when their businesses crumble and slowly but surely every city centre begins to look exactly the same as the last - the reason the day was set up in the first place in 2008.
It’s a crying shame – but no wonder! Lose the attitude, throw on a less obscure t shirt and you might actually sell something.
At Christmas, I searched all over for a present, a copy of Misfits’ Famous Monsters. Not exactly an obscure title but a vinyl copy proved as hard to find as a smile in Dawsons (NB: The same store in which I asked to by a capo and the store assistant said “Erm do you know what this is?”). I checked in every local store I could find and eventually started emailing around to see if any stores might be able to source it. Hardly any bothered to reply and the ones that did proceeded to patronise me as if I thought I was asking for a common copy of Now That’s What I Call Music 85. ‘You do know this is really hard to find?’ Oh wow really? I hadn’t realised that when I wrote to you saying ‘I know this is incredibly difficult to find.’
It’s this exertion of knowledge and ability to talk to those only in the inner circle that puts me off spending a penny in these places.
It’s worth noting there are still a few that seem genuinely interested in engaging with the public, and in my search for Famous Monsters I came across a couple of lovely, clued up folk, that were more than willing to help without making me feel like a nuisance.  
I would have loved to have gone out on RSD and proudly sported my RSD 2014 carrier bag on the train home. But unfortunately HMV, you know, the big evil giant which contributed to the indies dying out, got some free advertising on my arm. I believe you can be successful and be a specialist all you want. And you don’t be a snob to do so.
 
Laura x