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Off The Record - Record Store Day

Over the past few months, GigPig has been championing the best places for vinyl lovers to sift between crates within stores across the country to source some incredible physical music.

Now Record Store Day (RSD) has finally arrived for music enthusiasts which gives you the perfect opportunity to get down to your favourite record stores to revel with like-minded music connoisseurs and get your hands on some exclusive pressings, or to unearth those lost rarities that you’ve been craving to add to your collection for months.

The coordinator for RSD UK, Megan Page has described the event to GigPig as a “great community day which as a whole is a great thing to experience, with 400 releases, there is a hugely eclectic mix, so the nice thing about it is that there is something for everyone, no matter what your music taste is so you should be able to find something special that you love.”

Taking place on 22nd April, this well-loved annual celebration will see over 260 venues right across the country, allowing buyers to probe the music human algorithms behind the counter to receive advice which is tailored to their music tastes.

The celebration gives a welcomed injection of business to the independent stores which always guarantees long snaking queues, yet the wait is definitely well worth it with the exclusive material beyond the doors.

The event is always the first date music lovers mark off in their calendars, and it is hardly surprising with specially pressed records up for grabs in the stores that are involved within RSD.

The day brings together artists, music lovers and thousands of record stores across the world, and amplifies how influential these stores are to the communities and the music ecosystem.

Amongst the 400 exclusive pressings available this year from a vast range of genres to peak the interest of any music lover, include Sam Smith, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Björk, U2, Pixies and Dolly Parton.

This year's ambassadors for RSD are Manchester’s pop-rock band The 1975, who have had a formidable six months, with the release of their new album ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language', yet fans can expect to see a live performance with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra with some of their most popular tracks being pressed on vinyl.

Lead singer Matty Healy spoke about partnering with RSD, he said: “The guys and I are really proud to be ambassadors for Record Store Day this year.

“Independent record stores are the lifeblood of the music industry and have played a crucial role in our story so far. It couldn’t be more important to support their vital community and culture.”

Last year's ambassador, Taylor Swift, will also have a pressing and releasing ‘Folklore: the long pond studio sessions’, making it the first time this recording session will be made available on vinyl.

RSD 2023 comes at a time when the vinyl revival has well and truly kicked in, which has seen vinyl outsell CDs for the first time in 35 years in 2022 and Taylor Swift's 'Midnights' album saw vinyl outperform CDs for the first time since 1987.

GigPig spoke to the coordinator for RSD UK, Megan Page, about the event being a catalyst for the vinyl revival.

She said: “When record store day first started in 2007, vinyl was pretty much on the brink of extinction, and it's only really because a group of like-minded record shops and record fans came together and wanted to find a way to celebrate and champion the format.

“Lots of major record executives in the industry had pretty much written off the format and decided that the way forward was completely digital.

“People seemed to realise that there was an emotional connection that you could get out of playing a physical record, there aren't many other formats that can compete with that, so I think that's why it has got a very timeless quality about it.

“With the enthusiasm and the passion from those record shops, alongside the artists that saw that and wanted to participate and to support it as well, it kind of snowballed and I think the event really put vinyl back on the map and it has been the beating heart of the event ever since.”

Despite the success of vinyl sales, RSD has worked through extreme challenges over the past couple of years through COVID and the cost-of-living crisis which has changed consumer habits to purchasing physical music online.

Speaking about the adversities RSD has had to overcome, Megan said: “I think post COVID and the cost-of-living crisis is a massive challenge, but it's a challenge that isn't exclusive to record shops, it’s something which the whole High Street retail market is unfortunately facing.

“The great thing about record shops is that they're really creative, they've got that genius business spirit and in the COVID period, they were pretty much able to relaunch their business model overnight, and cater for a new way of delivering music to their customers.

“That's the beauty of being independent and being a small business is that you can be agile and you can adapt to change and make things work quickly.”

“So whilst it has been a real challenge for indie record shops, they've risen to that challenge really well, when we're seeing more and more record shops opening and taking part in RSD, it could have been the other way around.”

Customers attending RSD can also expect truly special live performances in a host of stores, speaking about the importance of record stores to upcoming talent, Megan said: “Record shops and emerging artists go hand in hand.

“What record shops do all year round is often on the forefront of breaking new talent and supporting local talent and giving local artists an opportunity to stock their music or give them a space to perform and support them and in their local communities.

“So RSD just amplifies what's going on in the record shop community across the UK, and the way that record shops support emerging talent and new artists is always going to be amplified by the records or their channels as well.”

Additionally, Megan touched on the importance of RSD and why it is so well-loved by vinyl aficionados to constitute queues outside of stores. She added: “I think the event as a whole is a great thing to experience.

“For a lot of fans, there's the opportunity to get hold of limited edition vinyl records from your favourite artists that you wouldn't be able to get ahold of any other time of the year, they really get excited about that.

“It's an experience to be enjoyed by a lot of people, they discover their local record shop through RSD, through going down and meeting the store owners being in touch with like-minded people, getting into queues watching DJ sets, watching local artists.

“It's a really great community day.”

To get yourself involved within this unmissable day, head over to RSD’s website to start your hunt for some exceptional LPs.

Record Store Day