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Off The Record: Record Store Day 2024

Record Store Day (RSD) has finally arrived for music enthusiasts, giving them the perfect opportunity to get down to their favourite record stores to get their hands on exclusive releases, that can’t be bought anywhere else.

It is taking place on 20th April, this well-loved annual celebration will see over 270 venues across the country celebrate their unique culture, and allowing buyers to add music rarities to their collection.

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 443 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.”

The celebration gives a welcomed injection of business to the independent stores as it guarantees long snaking queues. Yet, the wait is 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, which amplifies how influential these stores are to the communities and the music ecosystem.  

Amongst the 443 exclusive pressings available this year from a vast range of genres to peak the interest of any music lover, include The Beatles, David Bowie, Olivia Rodrigo and Noah Kahan.

This year's ambassador for RSD is the legendary artist Kate Bush, who has had a remarkable year following the reborn success of Running Up That Hill, which earned her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yet fans can expect to see a special release Eat the Music, which was initially meant to be the first release from her 1993 album Red Shoes.

Bush spoke about partnering with RSD, she said: “Isn’t it great to see how the resurgence in vinyl has taken the music industry by complete surprise? It had decided to leave vinyl far behind, but it would seem that not everyone agrees! I love that!

“I know there are many, many artists who are just as excited to see the audience turning the tide. In the same way that some people like to read a book on Kindle but also want to have a book as a physical object, a lot of people like vinyl and streaming. Both have different appeals.

“The added bonus of vinyl is that it encourages people to listen to albums. An art form that I’ve always thought can be treasured in a unique way. An album on vinyl is a beautiful thing, given a strong identity by its large-scale artwork. There’s a much more personal connection with the artists and their work.”

RSD 2024 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 'Mignights' 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 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.”

This year's annual celebration is set to give a £9.7m boost to indie record shops, which helps secure the future of grassroots music culture.

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 allowing local artists 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 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 great community day.”