Record Store Day has come and gone over the weekend. But 2015 will surely be remembered as a year in which Record Store Day did less to increase the visibility of vinyl records so much as to increase the visibility of how much everyone has grown to hate Record Store Day. And that seems it’s time for a post mortem – and a call to action.

I watched closely the reports from this weekend, just to see if there was anything positive – and there was. For every Foo Fighters (Grohl was this year’s ambassador, weirdly), there’s something with more worth to lesser-known music, like a 12″ for Kiasmos on Erased Tapes. And clearly there are some shops that are glad to have an extra excuse to bring people into a store.

No doubt, too, there was a time when Record Store Day served a purpose – one it may have simply outgrown, as records have moved from curiosity back to norm.

But it’s clear that Record Store Day organizers aren’t just setting out to create a fun holiday for vinyl records. (Compare, again on Erased Tapes, Nils Frahm’s more innocent “Piano Day.”)

The Case Against Record Store Day

The entire focus of the “holiday” is on exclusive releases. It’s straight at the top of the official website. The entire focus is exclusive releases on the day and limited runs.

In fact, it’s also clear that Record Store Day is by definition a celebration of inanimate discs and the celebration of spending money. (To quote Douglas Adams, “Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”)

Yes, in fact, musicians and producers, the people producing the sounds on those inanimate discs, are a side show, a kind of incidental means of drawing your attention to buying some limited 12″.

From there, the litany of complaints continue:

  • It’s just one day, ignoring the rest of the year.
  • It actually trains customers to ignore the rest of the year.
  • Collectibles benefit the after market more than the stores, as those records show up on eBay.
  • It makes it harder to actually acquire and listen to music. (What? Listen? Why would you want to do that?)
  • Big labels and big releases have crowded out the independent music that was supposed to be the point (though, again, Record Store Day are apparently vinyl fetishists, not music lovers, judging by their own site).
  • It increasingly spotlights celebrities and recognizable music.

Basically, it pretends to be Earth Day for independent music, but it’s really just the musical equivalent of the Black Friday sale at your local Wal-Mart, thinly-disguised and complete with long queues.

And the most serious complaint, the one that has made so many independent labels turn recently on the holiday, is that vinyl pressing plants are now clogged for this one holiday – increasingly with top-of-the-charts mainstream music, not indies. That more or less ruins the entire year’s release calendar. It screws over emerging artists, because they have to squeeze into a more-crowded, more-delayed calendar rather than get music out quickly. Sometimes plants don’t even deliver.

Oh, yeah, and even distributors are now overcrowded, too, and focusing on bigger stores.

So maybe keep Record Store Day and ditch the exclusives? To be clear (and responding to comments below), the idea here may be that killing exclusive releases and the resulting bottleneck is the solution. Then again, I’m not convinced that there’s an easy way to do that when the whole day has been built around the notion of going to the shops for records not available on other days.

Hence the complaints have come not from vinyl naysayers, but from people committed to independent record shops and vinyl music distribution – the concern being that the holiday is ruining the very institutions it was ostensibly meant to save.

More Reading On Why Lots of People Started Hating Record Store Day

There was so much written about it this year that I’ve saved you some time and rounded up the best rants and reporting:

Thinking of Record Store Day as a brand—as a logo and a logic binding together a yearly ritual of music consumption—is the only way to understand how concepts like “independence” and “community” can be served by good old-fashioned exploitative capitalism.

Record Store Day and the Ambivalent Branding of Independence [Eric Harvey for Pitchfork]

Covering the stresses felt by indies, writer Josh Hall collects issues from minimum pressing requirements to clogged pressing and distribution to mysterious “quality” requirements, to name a few (with some balanced comments from all sides):

Record Store Day risks becoming more of a problem than a solution [FACT]

Sonic Cathedral have a blistering open letter:

“We can’t compete so we won’t compete.”

WHY RECORD STORE DAY IS DYING…

And they split their run across 365 days at this site:

http://www.recordstoredayisdying.com/

Completing the Black Friday metaphor, Keith Creighton for Popdose (reprinted on Slate):

With Record Store Day, record collecting became a highly competitive full contact sport and endurance event.

WHY RECORD STORE DAY 2015 SHOULD BE THE LAST [Popdose]

Also, one of my favorite stores – also covering gear – had a nice alternative:
RECORD STORE DAYRUBADUBGlasgow’s Rubadub rejects Record Store Day “havoc”, announces rival event [FACT]

But the best reporting by far came from The Quietus, who visited a pressing plant. It’s worth reading the whole article, as it covers the ups and downs of the project. And it notes something everyone else missed: that the smarter pressing plants used vinyl as a way to make up for the depletion of digital replication sales (DVDs and CDs):

A Pressing Business: tQ Goes Inside A Czech Vinyl Plant [The Quietus]

I’d like to go further, however. Even the criticism of Record Store Day has been more or less monopolized by vinyl collectors. I have nothing against that – I’m looking forward to the first-ever vinyl release of my own music on Friday. The format has done some wonderful things for producers, for labels, and for DJs and DJ technique.

Let’s Get Over This Vinyl Fetish

I think we have to separate the concerns of vinyl from the concerns of music producers.

Many, many, indie labels and artists can’t afford their own vinyl pressings. We shouldn’t make a vinyl release some sort of minimum requirement for the seriousness of music, then, unless we want to make the size of your wallet the measure of your music. That doesn’t mean we can’t aspire to getting music out on vinyl, or love it when it’s there. But it does mean that we should appreciate the other releases.

For instance, speaking of the Czech Republic, Bukko Tapes has chosen digital releases with limited cassette tape runs. They can do cassettes cheaply without the minimum order of pressing. I love Hrtl’s music, for example; now I have to think where my cassette Walkman is living.

They’ve even done a floppy disk release.

hrtl

verbatim

Bukko Tapes @ Bandcamp

I don’t know that we should make vinyl the judge of DJs, either, as it’s also dependent on your budget. Vinyl fetishism is infecting DJing, too. It may misunderstand the real craft of DJing. (I don’t know if this story is actually true, but a friend claims seeing an angry guest at a party in Berlin actually physically slam a DJ’s laptop shut in protest of them playing digital.)

It goes on from there. DJ Tech Tools ran what I think was a reasonably innocuous editorial:

Why New DJs Should Start on Vinyl

Fair enough, even if I might edit the headline’s advice to “should considering starting on vinyl” – there are ways of making digital work. It’s the follow-up that I’d take real issue with, however:

Is DJing With Vinyl Really That Expensive?”

The methodology at DJ Tech Tools is flat misleading.

In order to make vinyl music acquisition seem nearly as cheap as digital, they only look at the cost of an LP/EP – surreal, given that buying singles is what a DJ is most likely to do. (They also assume you’re buying from iTunes, never Bandcamp, and that for some weird reason you never acquire free promos.)

In order to make the assumption the gear costs the same, they assume you don’t already own a laptop.

Then, on top of it, there’s no consideration for what it takes to store or transport records – you know, the reason so many DJs switched to digital in the first place. (And that covers a lot of costs, even including driving versus taking trains, or spending extra on luggage allowances when touring.)

I’m not saying that investing in turntables isn’t worth it. But I’ve seen first-hand musicians who can’t afford any new gear purchases, but can get into digital DJing using stuff they already owned. To say there’s no price difference would really require some degree of insensitivity both to people’s real-life budget challenges and, you know, basic arithmetic.

Think of the things we could do to celebrate actual music listening and not just the format on which that music is distributed.

We could have more events in record stores, thus supporting artists and record stores alike.

We could celebrate digital releases and online labels – those are the places where undiscovered music has a chance, because it’s unbound by the cost of producing a physical object. (This was, as you’ll recall, the whole promise of music on the Internet, once upon a time.)

logo_netlabel_day

Here’s an idea I love, for instance:

Celebrating the mp3 and free culture and the independent netlabels and musicians all around the world.

Save the date: JULY 14

Net Label Day 2015

Net Label Day on Facebook (just a few dozen likes – let’s change that)

And digital opens up lots of new possibilities – why not see more Mixcloud sets with track id’s, for instance, more mixes to help people process the torrent of new music released every week?

It’s clear that musicians and record lovers alike can benefit. Record collectors aren’t any happier than the rest of us that they can’t get their hands on exclusives, or that the release catalog is clogged.

If we refocus on loving music, we can even refocus on the reason we love records.

I think there’s something to be learned from Record Store Day. People are motivated by events, and new ideas can catch on.

So I’d love to hear more new ideas about how to promote actual music – records included. If Record Store Day has become a victim of its own success, at least it was successful. Now we need to bury it and get successful with something else.

  • Jason Brunton

    Really nice to meet you (briefly) in Frankfurt. I did another interview which maybe gave a more nuanced response which you can read here:

    http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/?view=classic

    • chaircrusher

      When everyone I know meets everyone else I know, the world will end in a thunderclap.

      • Oh, Andreas’ booth was a pretty reliable place for that to happen. 😉

    • Yes, imagine my surprise when I ran across you again in this story!

      Great interview – worth featuring. And I didn’t mean to nuke the nuance here, so much as I was myself overwhelmed by what sounds like really significant production/distribution problems coming out of this.

      As a synth manufacturer and as a writer, I’d generally like to get away from cycles where everything falls on a particular logjammed date (Black Friday, NAMM press releases spring to mind…)

      • Jason Brunton

        Hey Peter, I know, it’s a small world etc etc etc 🙂

        I didn’t mean that you had nuked the nuance (excellent phrase, I might steal that, it was just the original STV aritcle was already pretty blunt and then Fact blunted it further in their version and said we were announcing a “rival event”. The Hellfire Club article was just a bit longer so I was better placed to express myself properly.

        • Well, yes, it does seem that there was some distortion of reality caused by people’s vitriol, after all.

          Now I think it’s worth doing some more hard reporting on what these numbers are on both sides of the pond as far as sales and manufacturing. It’s also clear that if people were looking at data/evidence at all (and many weren’t), they weren’t considering the differences between the European and American markets. The realities of living with an international audience for our writing, but not genuinely international information…

          • aaron

            You’d just manipulate any information to your side of the argument. Bias before research = BS and you’ve already done the bias part without research. No turning back.
            And I’d like the repeat.. there is ZERO REASON to try and dismantle or disregard an existing structure in order to restablish something new. All that demonstrates is a narrow minded desire to covet what someone else already has. There is room for the existence of many things.
            Also, again, RSD is Record Store Day. Not come by Records (aka Vinyl) at a Record Store toDay.
            There are so many countless things wrong with this flame piece that it is honestly hard to deal with because you usually don’t come off as so blind to one view point. Makes the whole thing stink of “some hipsters were sitting around talking and…… “

  • Jason Brunton

    Really nice to meet you (briefly) in Frankfurt. I did another interview which maybe gave a more nuanced response which you can read here:

    http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/?view=classic

    • chaircrusher

      When everyone I know meets everyone else I know, the world will end in a thunderclap.

      • Oh, Andreas’ booth was a pretty reliable place for that to happen. 😉

    • Yes, imagine my surprise when I ran across you again in this story!

      Great interview – worth featuring. And I didn’t mean to nuke the nuance here, so much as I was myself overwhelmed by what sounds like really significant production/distribution problems coming out of this.

      As a synth manufacturer and as a writer, I’d generally like to get away from cycles where everything falls on a particular logjammed date (Black Friday, NAMM press releases spring to mind…)

      • Jason Brunton

        Hey Peter, I know, it’s a small world etc etc etc 🙂

        I didn’t mean that you had nuked the nuance (excellent phrase, I might steal that, it was just the original STV aritcle was already pretty blunt and then Fact blunted it further in their version and said we were announcing a “rival event”. The Hellfire Club article was just a bit longer so I was better placed to express myself properly.

        • Well, yes, it does seem that there was some distortion of reality caused by people’s vitriol, after all.

          Now I think it’s worth doing some more hard reporting on what these numbers are on both sides of the pond as far as sales and manufacturing. It’s also clear that if people were looking at data/evidence at all (and many weren’t), they weren’t considering the differences between the European and American markets. The realities of living with an international audience for our writing, but not genuinely international information…

          • Guest

            You’d just manipulate any information to your side of the argument. Bias before research = BS and you’ve already done the bias part without research. No turning back.

            And I’d like the repeat.. there is ZERO REASON to try and dismantle or disregard an existing structure in order to restablish something new. All that demonstrates is a narrow minded desire to covet what someone else already has. There is room for the existence of many things.

            Also, again, RSD is Record Store Day. Not come buy Records (aka Vinyl) at a Record Store toDay.

            There are so many countless things wrong with this flame piece that it is honestly hard to deal with because you usually don’t come off as so blind to one view point. Makes the whole thing stink of “some hipsters were sitting around talking and…… ”

            Maybe you need to talk to fewer people who will be done messing about with music and computer software in a few years and more with those that have a passion enough for it that they stake their livlihood on supporting their local scenes.

  • aaron

    Whatever. I like Record Store Day. You don’t have to knock something down to try and start something else.

    • edisonSF

      Agreed Agreed Agreed Agreed, Me and my wife went out to 2 local shops and spent a bunch of money! And got the satisfaction of digging through crates. Record store day is about my collection, and celebrating that motherfuckers are still actually buying music… (Some people) And keeping record stores open. Fuck dave grohl, the hype and exclusivity… Support your local shop…. Why would you Ever rally against that, or miss that point?

      • Okay, but that’s easier said than done.

        The whole holiday is built around exclusives. And the bottleneck with distribution and manufacturing suggests that “still buying music” isn’t sustainable if you don’t find some way to spread promotion out through the year.

        So, way too much energy is being put into a single day, and that’s a problem.

        And I think “why rally against that” is pretty well answered by the half-dozen other rants linked here. This isn’t just me ranting about it; frankly, I was convinced as I started reading the other reporting.

        • edisonSF

          i get the point of the rants. “the majors are here, this isn’t fun anymore” but won’t the majors money and bullshit insight growth on the manufacturing side? hasn’t ranting on the internet been deemed pointless yet? being that labels and artists “the side show” are responsible for the creation of RSD exclusive products, isn’t this an empty complaint to being with? doesn’t dave grohl have enough press coverage already? if one day a year can create that much bottle necking in the industry, does it not speak to the value of the physical format and a consumers surviving sentimental attachment to a collection? these are good things. no matter what way you slice it, this article and the rants, are against the musicians cause. indie overpowered by majors…. whats new??? at least people are buying. if the argument was “how do we shift focus away from RSD exclusives” and not “this worked too well its dead” maybe you’d have something… but not much.

          • Well, wait, no, it isn’t possible to blow this stuff off that easily.

            Essentially, the issue is not an existential question about the future of vinyl. It’s about timing.

            For instance, if people bought milk only one day a year, you’d have a significant supply / demand / production problem.

            And this is the fundamental question about driving sales of anything around a date. In fact, it’s exactly what happens with a lot of things regarding Christmas. The reason Black Friday was originally called Black Friday is that it was the approximate date on which retailers typically hit black ink – because so much of their sales is around the Christmas buying rush.

            In the case of Record Store Day, the backlogs are not so much an indication of the success of selling records as they are the success of commoditizing limited run releases on a particular date.

            And that is not necessarily a “good thing no matter what way you slice it.”

            I’m not saying this is the only way to slice it, but the reason people are lining up here and protesting is that you can slice it one way that is very much a bad thing.

    • I’m pointing to other complaints about the domination of majors and bigger artists – and, specifically, the fact that the organizers are highlighting those very people.

      I think single-day event-driven marketing may generally be a bad idea, because it costs sales the rest of the calendar year. The same can be true if, say, synth manufacturers do the same with Black Friday.

      • Ezmyrelda

        I’m thinking.. Maybe something.. similar.. but not exactly what RSD is.. Like..

        “Little Record Store Day” promoted to rekindle appreciation for necessarily limited run 45’s like punk records. A day for releases by unknown artists in which every release is a limited one.

      • But isn’t the end game of RSD to simply get people into the stores? It’s just a promotion. Vinyl culture is just a carrot.

        The real question is does the Market want these smaller stores to exist? Does any data suggest that this promotion is helping stores to stay open?

        • Kinetic Monkey

          What does the market want? Sir, when the insurrection occurs, good luck asking the market for help. Fuck the market. What do you want? You want small independent record stores? Frequent small independent record stores. You want data suggesting market trends are assisting businesses? Fabricate it.

          • “You want data suggesting market trends are assisting businesses? Fabricate it.”

            So you say. But if your a store owner it may be difficult to”fabricate” your rent and utility bills.

          • Kinetic Monkey

            Then that would be a sad reality imposed by an insanely cruel capitalist class. But it wouldn’t be because an imaginary market with wants, it would be because of the accountable actions of actual real people.

          • Sorry, and respectfully, I don’t understand what you are trying to say?

            “sad reality imposed by an insanely cruel capitalist class”

            Are you suggesting that a store closing, because no one wants what it is selling, is insanely cruel?

          • Kinetic Monkey

            Admittedly, a comparatively minor symptom of the larger epidemic caused by people who believe in the market.

          • Whatever you say!

            Cheers!

  • aaron

    Whatever. I like Record Store Day. RSD brings alot of business to alot of small shops who are grateful for the exposure. Your charactizations of if it just being about vinyl and bigger labels is totally wrong. Alot of independents and self published work gets pushed on that day. The point of this article gets lost to be honest and it just comes off as a diatribe against something that does more good than harm… You don’t have to knock something down to try and start something else. Boo hoo.

    • edisonSF

      Agreed Agreed Agreed Agreed, Me and my wife went out to 2 local shops and spent a bunch of money! And got the satisfaction of digging through crates. Record store day is about my collection, and celebrating that motherfuckers are still actually buying music… (Some people) And keeping record stores open. Fuck dave grohl, the hype and exclusivity… Support your local shop…. Why would you Ever rally against that, or miss that point?

      • Okay, but that’s easier said than done.

        The whole holiday is built around exclusives. And the bottleneck with distribution and manufacturing suggests that “still buying music” isn’t sustainable if you don’t find some way to spread promotion out through the year.

        So, way too much energy is being put into a single day, and that’s a problem.

        And I think “why rally against that” is pretty well answered by the half-dozen other rants linked here. This isn’t just me ranting about it; frankly, I was convinced as I started reading the other reporting.

        • edisonSF

          i get the point of the rants. “the majors are here, this isn’t fun anymore” but won’t the majors money and bullshit insight growth on the manufacturing side? hasn’t ranting on the internet been deemed pointless yet? being that labels and artists “the side show” are responsible for the creation of RSD exclusive products, isn’t this an empty complaint to being with? doesn’t dave grohl have enough press coverage already? if one day a year can create that much bottle necking in the industry, does it not speak to the value of the physical format and a consumers surviving sentimental attachment to a collection? these are good things. no matter what way you slice it, this article and the rants, are against the musicians cause. indie overpowered by majors…. whats new??? at least people are buying. if the argument was “how do we shift focus away from RSD exclusives” and not “this worked too well its dead” maybe you’d have something… but not much.

          • Well, wait, no, it isn’t possible to blow this stuff off that easily.

            Essentially, the issue is not an existential question about the future of vinyl. It’s about timing.

            For instance, if people bought milk only one day a year, you’d have a significant supply / demand / production problem.

            And this is the fundamental question about driving sales of anything around a date. In fact, it’s exactly what happens with a lot of things regarding Christmas. The reason Black Friday was originally called Black Friday is that it was the approximate date on which retailers typically hit black ink – because so much of their sales is around the Christmas buying rush.

            In the case of Record Store Day, the backlogs are not so much an indication of the success of selling records as they are the success of commoditizing limited run releases on a particular date.

            And that is not necessarily a “good thing no matter what way you slice it.”

            I’m not saying this is the only way to slice it, but the reason people are lining up here and protesting is that you can slice it one way that is very much a bad thing.

    • I’m pointing to other complaints about the domination of majors and bigger artists – and, specifically, the fact that the organizers are highlighting those very people.

      I think single-day event-driven marketing may generally be a bad idea, because it costs sales the rest of the calendar year. The same can be true if, say, synth manufacturers do the same with Black Friday.

      • Ezmyrelda

        I’m thinking.. Maybe something.. similar.. but not exactly what RSD is.. Like..

        “Little Record Store Day” promoted to rekindle appreciation for necessarily limited run 45’s like punk records. A day for releases by unknown artists in which every release is a limited one.

      • But isn’t the end game of RSD to simply get people into the stores? It’s just a promotion. Vinyl culture is just a carrot.

        The real question is does the Market want these smaller stores to exist? Does any data suggest that this promotion is helping stores to stay open?

        • Kinetic Monkey

          What does the market want? Sir, when the insurrection occurs, good luck asking the market for help. Fuck the market. What do you want? You want small independent record stores? Frequent small independent record stores. You want data suggesting market trends are assisting businesses? Fabricate it.

          • “You want data suggesting market trends are assisting businesses? Fabricate it.”

            So you say. But if you’re a store owner it may be difficult to”fabricate” your rent and utility bills.

          • Kinetic Monkey

            Then that would be a sad reality imposed by an insanely cruel capitalist class. But it wouldn’t be because an imaginary market with wants, it would be because of the accountable actions of actual real people.

          • Sorry, and respectfully, I don’t understand what you are trying to say?

            “sad reality imposed by an insanely cruel capitalist class”

            Are you suggesting that a store closing, because no one wants what it is selling, is insanely cruel?

          • Kinetic Monkey

            Admittedly, a comparatively minor symptom of the larger epidemic caused by people who believe in the market.

          • Whatever you say!

            Cheers!

  • Alex Keegan

    Brilliant article. Said a lot of what I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I was for about 5 years a keen vinyl buyer and DJ, running my own club night here in Sheffield to some success. I burdened a fairly prejudiced view towards artists who played on digital but ended up booking more and more DJs who did brilliant sets not on vinyl (DJ Sprinkles on CD-js, Joe on Serato). I have increasingly become disillusioned with record buying and have all-but halted my purchases on my hideously-low salary as embroiled in post-graduate study. I want to create more and affording to buy gear is impossible if you’re always buying records. Anyone who suggests buying records is not elitist, favouring those who have more money just needs to look at how a ‘good’ record collection is considered one that is ‘as big as possible’, with as much property amassed by the consumer as they can afford. The link to consumerism with vinyl purchasing is pretty sickening now given how as you say, the vinyl resurgence was meant to be a means of the underground reclaiming a forgotten medium.

    Another factor that I think isn’t really talked about at all is the environmental impact of vinyl records vs. digital. I’ve yet to properly look into the work and emissions required to create the materials necessary to produce a record but undoubtedly the manufacturing emissions, plus transportation of multiple records from plants, to distributors, from distributors to stores and from stores to homes is pretty massive. Digital on the other hand can create a fairly efficient transaction from artist or label to consumer without half as much damage to the environment. (Obviously with things like cloud storage/streaming you have the energy gobbled by all the servers that’s why I think downloading onto hard drives is the way forward). By all means I think any DJ should learn to mix using the ‘vinyl feel’, just to understand DJing history and how beat-matching should feel like using this technique. But there’s no reason why Serato or Traktor couldn’t offer almost as genuine an experience when using losless WAVs (the ‘sound quality’ is as you now pretty stale by now, Traktor should offer a ‘random crackle’ button where you can put some of that ‘gen-u-ine vinyl sound onto your digi tracks).

    I can see these sort of arguments becoming more prominent if things like RSD carry on in this fashion, further alienating the underground independents. It is after all those that made RSD happen so I’m hoping they can just as easily re-address the paradigm.

  • Alex Keegan

    Brilliant article. Said a lot of what I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I was for about 5 years a keen vinyl buyer and DJ, running my own club night here in Sheffield to some success. I burdened a fairly prejudiced view towards artists who played on digital but ended up booking more and more DJs who did brilliant sets not on vinyl (DJ Sprinkles on CD-js, Joe on Serato). I have increasingly become disillusioned with record buying and have all-but halted my purchases on my hideously-low salary as embroiled in post-graduate study. I want to create more and affording to buy gear is impossible if you’re always buying records. Anyone who suggests buying records is not elitist, favouring those who have more money just needs to look at how a ‘good’ record collection is considered one that is ‘as big as possible’, with as much property amassed by the consumer as they can afford. The link to consumerism with vinyl purchasing is pretty sickening now given how as you say, the vinyl resurgence was meant to be a means of the underground reclaiming a forgotten medium.

    Another factor that I think isn’t really talked about at all is the environmental impact of vinyl records vs. digital. I’ve yet to properly look into the work and emissions required to create the materials necessary to produce a record but undoubtedly the manufacturing emissions, plus transportation of multiple records from plants, to distributors, from distributors to stores and from stores to homes is pretty massive. Digital on the other hand can create a fairly efficient transaction from artist or label to consumer without half as much damage to the environment. (Obviously with things like cloud storage/streaming you have the energy gobbled by all the servers that’s why I think downloading onto hard drives is the way forward). By all means I think any DJ should learn to mix using the ‘vinyl feel’, just to understand DJing history and how beat-matching should feel like using this technique. But there’s no reason why Serato or Traktor couldn’t offer almost as genuine an experience when using losless WAVs (the ‘sound quality’ is as you now pretty stale by now, Traktor should offer a ‘random crackle’ button where you can put some of that ‘gen-u-ine vinyl sound onto your digi tracks).

    I can see these sort of arguments becoming more prominent if things like RSD carry on in this fashion, further alienating the underground independents. It is after all those that made RSD happen so I’m hoping they can just as easily re-address the paradigm.

  • I didn’t even realise until sunday that saturday was in fact Record Day. Where was all the hype?!

    The recent Piano Day was a bit of a let-down too. Nils Frahm missed a trick with his site – it should have been somewhere to upload or promote peoples piano songs from around the world – maybe next year, eh?

    Netlabel day to promote independent labels and musicians is a great idea. Music doesn’t just have to be given away free – could use the “pay how much you think its worth” method.

  • I didn’t even realise until sunday that saturday was in fact Record Day. Where was all the hype?!

    The recent Piano Day was a bit of a let-down too. Nils Frahm missed a trick with his site – it should have been somewhere to upload or promote peoples piano songs from around the world – maybe next year, eh?

    Netlabel day to promote independent labels and musicians is a great idea. Music doesn’t just have to be given away free – could use the “pay how much you think its worth” method.

  • Kinetic Monkey

    I’ve really enjoyed previous RSDs, but this year the list was endless, and half of it was re-issues, which I’m not particularly bothered with. So I took my family to Legoland instead.

    I can’t say I’ll never buy another RSD release, but I’m certainly not as excited by it anymore. As an amateur artist, Net-label day seems a lot more attainable.

    • King Vampire

      I just discovered RSD a year ago, and I love it so far. I only get RSD releases of artists I really like. And I see no problem with that, especially since there are plenty of artists who decide to release something special.

  • Kinetic Monkey

    I’ve really enjoyed previous RSDs, but this year the list was endless, and half of it was re-issues, which I’m not particularly bothered with. So I took my family to Legoland instead.

    I can’t say I’ll never buy another RSD release, but I’m certainly not as excited by it anymore. As an amateur artist, Net-label day seems a lot more attainable.

    • King Vampire

      I just discovered RSD a year ago, and I love it so far. I only get RSD releases of artists I really like. And I see no problem with that, especially since there are plenty of artists who decide to release something special.

  • Ezmyrelda

    Ok, so this is the scary thing to me.. The thing I see very few people actually doing something about.. One of the things I want to be involved in rectifying.. But I’m sort of powerless to.

    I think we’ve mostly (A lot of us) have decided that records are worth keeping in our lives and extremely important in a historical (and to me an archival ) context.

    The thing is.. the equipment required to cut and press records is.. Well, it’s not getting any younger.. and the places with the equipment required to make them are arguably becoming fewer and farther between..

    Seriously.. Doesn’t this concern anyone? If the entire process for making them is bottlenecked by a day purportedly advertised to rekindle appreciation them.. Is that not a problem? I so.. What are we as record lovers to do about it?

    • Actually, if you read through to the Quietus story, it seems they are acquiring new equipment – that was news to me.

      • Ezmyrelda

        That’s only somewhat reassuring to me..

        • Not only is it reassuring, I’d say it’s exciting.

          In fact, maybe worth a separate article/investigation. 🙂 (I’ll be in Czech soon.)

          “There are no manufacturers for new, mass-producing, vinyl-pressing technology anywhere, so this shortage means that we’ve developed our own presses and galvanics.” These planned twelve new presses operate in much the same way as the older models, and the galvanic process employed is not dissimilar to that of other plants, either. (Through the process of direct metal mastering, copper-plated master discs are placed into a galvanic bath until plated with a layer of nickel, which is then peeled off and used to stamp the discs inside the presses.)

          This investment is about renewal. They don’t intend to replace the still functioning, older presses, but to add to the growing arsenal of a technology they refused to retire decades ago.

          • Ezmyrelda

            I understand that but.. It’s one plant. In one country. That’s umm super lovely if things don’t hit the fan as it were.. But, I’m not completely bright eyed about that either.

            I’m of course interested in hearing all about the story and the news.. But.. I have a perspective that is coloured by a less rosy view of the way history is playing itself out..

            My point? Mmmhmm, Yeah, Maybe I’d be a bit more relieved if there was an exciting pressing plant story in the americas. Or like hey.. three pressing plants all getting ready to invest a ton of money in equipment that wasn’t made several generations ago.

          • Well, except, according to the gentlemen above from Warner Music Group who says I’m otherwise writing nothing but bullshit (which is possible) — they’re adding capacity in the USA. It depends on what ‘adding capacity’ means.

          • Billy Fields

            Actually, Peter, I find your commentary post the article to be anything but bullshit. I think you’re doing a great job of actually trying to understand the game and whether or not it’s worth the effort.

            Capacity in the U.S. means: URP adding 15 more presses. QRP adding 12 more presses. Fat Possum opening a new plant in Memphis (presses TBD). Secretly Canadian/Epitaph opening a plant in NJ (presses TBD). A new plant opening in Portland, OR (presses and ownership unknown to me at this time-maybe the ATO folks?). RTI in L.A. expanding shifts. Real presses, real capacity-and much of the above focused on and for independent labels and artists.

          • Ezmyrelda

            Hey! Even BS is pleasant to hear sometimes. “adding capacity” smacks of giving the shine on.. But I guess I” have to take it right?

  • Ezmyrelda

    Ok, so this is the scary thing to me.. The thing I see very few people actually doing something about.. One of the things I want to be involved in rectifying.. But I’m sort of powerless to.

    I think we’ve mostly (A lot of us) have decided that records are worth keeping in our lives and extremely important in a historical (and to me an archival ) context.

    The thing is.. the equipment required to cut and press records is.. Well, it’s not getting any younger.. and the places with the equipment required to make them are arguably becoming fewer and farther between..

    Seriously.. Doesn’t this concern anyone? If the entire process for making them is bottlenecked by a day purportedly advertised to rekindle appreciation them.. Is that not a problem? If so.. What are we as record lovers to do about it?

    • Actually, if you read through to the Quietus story, it seems they are acquiring new equipment – that was news to me.

      • Ezmyrelda

        That’s only somewhat reassuring to me..

        • Not only is it reassuring, I’d say it’s exciting.

          In fact, maybe worth a separate article/investigation. 🙂 (I’ll be in Czech soon.)

          “There are no manufacturers for new, mass-producing, vinyl-pressing technology anywhere, so this shortage means that we’ve developed our own presses and galvanics.” These planned twelve new presses operate in much the same way as the older models, and the galvanic process employed is not dissimilar to that of other plants, either. (Through the process of direct metal mastering, copper-plated master discs are placed into a galvanic bath until plated with a layer of nickel, which is then peeled off and used to stamp the discs inside the presses.)

          This investment is about renewal. They don’t intend to replace the still functioning, older presses, but to add to the growing arsenal of a technology they refused to retire decades ago.

          • Ezmyrelda

            I understand that but.. It’s one plant. In one country. That’s umm super lovely if things don’t hit the fan as it were.. But, I’m not completely bright eyed about that either.

            I’m of course interested in hearing all about the story and the news.. But.. I have a perspective that is coloured by a less rosy view of the way history is playing itself out..

            My point? Mmmhmm, Yeah, Maybe I’d be a bit more relieved if there was an exciting pressing plant story in the americas. Or like hey.. three pressing plants all getting ready to invest a ton of money in equipment that wasn’t made several generations ago.

          • Well, except, according to the gentlemen above from Warner Music Group who says I’m otherwise writing nothing but bullshit (which is possible) — they’re adding capacity in the USA. It depends on what ‘adding capacity’ means.

          • Billy Fields

            Actually, Peter, I find your commentary post the article to be anything but bullshit. I think you’re doing a great job of actually trying to understand the game and whether or not it’s worth the effort.

            Capacity in the U.S. means: URP adding 15 more presses. QRP adding 12 more presses. Fat Possum opening a new plant in Memphis (presses TBD). Secretly Canadian/Epitaph opening a plant in NJ (presses TBD). A new plant opening in Portland, OR (presses and ownership unknown to me at this time-maybe the ATO folks?). RTI in L.A. expanding shifts. Real presses, real capacity-and much of the above focused on and for independent labels and artists.

          • Ezmyrelda

            Hey! Even BS is pleasant to hear sometimes. “adding capacity” smacks of giving the shine on.. But I guess I” have to take it right?

  • Tom

    RSD is cool and all, but I prefer LSD

  • Tom

    RSD is cool and all, but I prefer LSD

  • f

    I fall squarely in the ‘Who gives a shit?’ camp. That said, your focus on music and musicians and formats seems at odds with my understanding of RSD – I’ve always thought of it as having much more to do with brick-and-mortar record stores specifically. Want to support the cool kids that run the register at your local record store? Go buy some shit on RSD. It’s a made-up bullshit consumerist holiday at it’s very core, and has never had much at all to do with ‘promoting actual music’; I think efforts to steer this particular retail promotional effort in that direction miss the point.

    • Right, but “who gives a shit” would be record labels who can’t get records reliably produced for the weeks leading up to the event.

      And that’s the point of a number of the articles above. You can’t ignore it – not even if you’re just a label doing direct sales through online avenues – because there are a limited number of record pressing plants.

  • f

    I fall squarely in the ‘Who gives a shit?’ camp. That said, your focus on music and musicians and formats seems at odds with my understanding of RSD – I’ve always thought of it as having much more to do with brick-and-mortar record stores specifically. Want to support the cool kids that run the register at your local record store? Go buy some shit on RSD. It’s a made-up bullshit consumerist holiday at it’s very core, and has never had much at all to do with ‘promoting actual music’; I think efforts to steer this particular retail promotional effort in that direction miss the point.

    • Right, but “who gives a shit” would be record labels who can’t get records reliably produced for the weeks leading up to the event.

      And that’s the point of a number of the articles above. You can’t ignore it – not even if you’re just a label doing direct sales through online avenues – because there are a limited number of record pressing plants.

  • Daniel Hamilton

    It would be nice is major labels offered one day when they didn’t take any profit from their records allowing shops to offer bigger discounts. it would drive customers into the shops on one day, kill off the second hand market and not mess up the pressing plant schedule. Smaller labels could offer smaller discounts or free gifts/promo items.

    I avoid record store day for many reasons, the main one being that I agree with everything in this article, but give me a day where my local record shop is offering 20% discounts and I might pop down to pick up that box set/album i’ve had my eye on for a while, oh and whllst I am saving money, pick up a few more items.

    This idea would mean the major labels actually taking a loss on one day of the year, but strengthening the market for the other 364 days….

  • Daniel Hamilton

    It would be nice is major labels offered one day when they didn’t take any profit from their records allowing shops to offer bigger discounts. it would drive customers into the shops on one day, kill off the second hand market and not mess up the pressing plant schedule. Smaller labels could offer smaller discounts or free gifts/promo items.

    I avoid record store day for many reasons, the main one being that I agree with everything in this article, but give me a day where my local record shop is offering 20% discounts and I might pop down to pick up that box set/album i’ve had my eye on for a while, oh and whllst I am saving money, pick up a few more items.

    This idea would mean the major labels actually taking a loss on one day of the year, but strengthening the market for the other 364 days….

  • Billy Fields

    In the end, anything exclusive is simply used as kindling on the fire that independent music retail is developing into. Most arguments against RSD center around an individual or label or store that has elected not to fight the obstacles. Ok. They’ve given up. The point is to continue the fight. Capacity is improving. Turn times will reduce. Speaking of the U.S., we sold 994K full-length vinyl albums in 2007-two years AFTER physical retail was first reported to have been over. Go back. When the iPod was first introduced the prognosticators said 2005… Ten years after physical retail was expected to be dead the U.S. is on track to sell 12M full-length albums (not to mention the other stuff indies sell). 58% of those vinyl units are sold at independent music shops. Tell me again why RSD is a bad thing?

    Oh, right, the single day. The focus, the training. What about the rest of the year? What about buying milk? The week including RSD accounts for 4% of the yearly sales total in the U.S. Let that sink in a bit. Not one story about the horrible bad-ness of RSD mentions any data point. Yet all the actual sales results (yes, it’s about music/art/culture/performance and it’s also a business) point to a resounding success.

    Is it perfect? No. Is the market working to improve it? Yes. Is it valid and worth the effort? I have hundreds and hundreds of friends that run record stores around the world and every day they’re open and in business and turning new fans onto new music proves the worth of this endeavor. One last little thing. Opinions are not facts. Argue facts. The rest is just bullshit.

    • Kinetic Monkey

      Oh, but opinions are so much fun.

      • Billy Fields

        True. Far more passionate and concussive.

        • Jason Brunton

          Hey Billy – i run a small independent store here in the UK and we distribute some labels too – without exception they are telling us that pressing plants are putting them to the back of the queue for three months before RSD because of strain on their resources and one plant is hitting labels with a surcharge for less than 500 copies during these months so labels are forced into pressing more than is financially sustainable.

          I’ve got two main problems with RSD as it currently stands, one is opinion based (I feel it encourages people to see a visit to record stores as being a once a year Xmas style event as well as focusing on “collectors’ items”) and the other which is entire fact based which is the strain put on the pressing plants, mastering houses and so on. There’s no negativity or vitriol here, just how it is for us and the labels we support 365 days a year.

          • Billy Fields

            Jason-I think you’ve hit on something here that does point to a bit of a cultural difference. In the U.S. RSD isn’t just about the one day a year, but about exposing stores and the culture of the community record store to the larger public. Stores that participate see new customers that become regular customers ongoing. It’s a media event that cuts through the junk to grab music fans’ attention. It sounds like it may be coming off at a different angle in the U.K.?

            As I mentioned above/earlier, the strain is absolutely real. But, and I guess this is the rub, it will get better. It certainly takes time to build production, but both Pallas in Germany and GZ in the Czech Republic are adding/building new presses and other plants in Europe are adding additional shifts and ramping up operational hours. It doesn’t help if the labels you’re working with don’t have access to these plants, so I hope they continue to search out those manufacturers that can, and want to, help.

          • Jason Brunton

            Hey Billy – we use MPO in France, RAND in Germany, GZ and others – we do retail and distribution and are often the interface between small labels and the pressing plants. They are all coming to us with the same story, smaller “boutique” labels who can only afford to press 300 copies are completely squeezed out for a quarter of the year or more, pressing plants are adding surcharges to anything less than 500 copies, even for larger labels mistakes and issues with pressing can take between 4 and 12 weeks to sort out……..we’ve not got the answers to the issues at the moment but feel that there’s a problem to be disccussed at the very least.

    • Okay, I’m assuming you’re the same Billy Fields of Warner Music Group?

      My effort here is not simply to rail against Record Store Day, but rather to compile what seemed to me to be a growing number of opinions about the event from people in the business of selling records.

      Now, as far as guilt about absent data points, I’m guilty. I’m rather assuming that the shops and labels in question are looking at data of their own, whether or not they’re sharing, so I don’t think it’s entirely fair to throw their opinions out out of hand – though it is fair to call me on it.

      However, I don’t quite follow your logic here.

      You’re claiming RSD is a resounding success with a ratio of sales in the US that’s roughly twice is week-to-week average for the year.

      Now, that blows holes in my argument that it’s clogging capacity. On the other hand, is a twice-the-average sales single date a resounding success that’s responsible for the resurgence in vinyl sales? I’m just missing where the data is for that.

      The rest of your sales numbers may or may not have anything to do with RSD.

      But it could also all mean that the complaints about capacity are a bunch of hot air… I know at the very least that, whatever the impact of Record Store Day, the bulk of record sales still come from outside the majors, to an extent that I think the indies can’t yet complain that majors are muscling them out.

      • Billy Fields

        Your assumption is correct about me, but I wouldn’t assume that any argument against RSD is using anything other than opinion mixed with a bit of pessimism and vitriol.

        I guess this serves me right for writing comments before coffee while operating a smartphone…

        The data points issue, for me, is that I’ve read all the arguments against RSD and not one actually uses any factual proof. I like to use facts as my basis for my arguments and giving any space for simple rants (or cleverly concealed publicity stunting) is counter to the ultimate goal: keeping RSD reporting accurate and illuminating and seeing RSD improve while including all that want to participate. Like I mention, it’s not perfect and we work every year to improve the event. I may work for a major but I want (actually, we need) as many independent labels and artists in the game. Every major that exists today, was at one time, an independent.

        There is certainly a capacity strain due to RSD. This is the 8th year so the compacting of capacity shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Plan better. The second part of that is increased capacity. In the last 12 months there have been more presses either announced or brought on line than in the preceding, let’s call it, three decades. This is a direct result of the growth of vinyl, brought about by RSD. These two events go hand in hand and the success of RSD begets the success in vinyl.

        There is tremendous growth in the format in the U.S. that would not be in place without Record Store Day. This is easily confirmed by overall growth patterns for the retail segment, the format and shipment data.

        • You’ve already written an op-ed to this effect somewhere, correct? Or … should we consider posting your comments as an op-ed?

          I still am concerned that for many labels and shops, having a “Record Store Day” itself may simply not fit the times *because* of all the renewed interest in records – that they may want to find event-driven marketing that spreads releases out or finds another focus.

          But I agree that pundits – myself included – shouldn’t have a panic attack about constrained production if we don’t have any solid data suggesting that’s the case. (Anecdotes of a botched pressing or two don’t count, and may say more about the reliability of your manufacturing facility than they do about RSD.)

          Also, many, many of these editorials came from Europe, so I would try to get some data there.

          • Billy Fields

            All good points, really. Every year we get the opportunity to figure it out all over again. This year won’t be any different.

          • Yeah, absolutely – well, this has started a terrific discussion. It’s clearer now where some of the complaints are coming from on one hand, and I think how they might be balanced against some of the value.

            And the larger questions about formats for DJs and listeners of course deserve some further investigation outside this context.

            I think looking again at the music magazines, yes, there was some vitriol there, so not necessarily my intent to absorb too much of that. 😉

  • Billy Fields

    In the end, anything exclusive is simply used as kindling on the fire that independent music retail is developing into. Most arguments against RSD center around an individual or label or store that has elected not to fight the obstacles. Ok. They’ve given up. The point is to continue the fight. Capacity is improving. Turn times will reduce. Speaking of the U.S., we sold 994K full-length vinyl albums in 2007-two years AFTER physical retail was first reported to have been over. Go back. When the iPod was first introduced the prognosticators said 2005… Ten years after physical retail was expected to be dead the U.S. is on track to sell 12M full-length albums (not to mention the other stuff indies sell). 58% of those vinyl units are sold at independent music shops. Tell me again why RSD is a bad thing?

    Oh, right, the single day. The focus, the training. What about the rest of the year? What about buying milk? The week including RSD accounts for 4% of the yearly sales total in the U.S. Let that sink in a bit. Not one story about the horrible bad-ness of RSD mentions any data point. Yet all the actual sales results (yes, it’s about music/art/culture/performance and it’s also a business) point to a resounding success.

    Is it perfect? No. Is the market working to improve it? Yes. Is it valid and worth the effort? I have hundreds and hundreds of friends that run record stores around the world and every day they’re open and in business and turning new fans onto new music proves the worth of this endeavor. One last little thing. Opinions are not facts. Argue facts. The rest is just bullshit.

    • Kinetic Monkey

      Oh, but opinions are so much fun.

      • Billy Fields

        True. Far more passionate and concussive.

        • Jason Brunton

          Hey Billy – i run a small independent store here in the UK and we distribute some labels too – without exception they are telling us that pressing plants are putting them to the back of the queue for three months before RSD because of strain on their resources and one plant is hitting labels with a surcharge for less than 500 copies during these months so labels are forced into pressing more than is financially sustainable.

          I’ve got two main problems with RSD as it currently stands, one is opinion based (I feel it encourages people to see a visit to record stores as being a once a year Xmas style event as well as focusing on “collectors’ items”) and the other which is entire fact based which is the strain put on the pressing plants, mastering houses and so on. There’s no negativity or vitriol here, just how it is for us and the labels we support 365 days a year.

          • Billy Fields

            Jason-I think you’ve hit on something here that does point to a bit of a cultural difference. In the U.S. RSD isn’t just about the one day a year, but about exposing stores and the culture of the community record store to the larger public. Stores that participate see new customers that become regular customers ongoing. It’s a media event that cuts through the junk to grab music fans’ attention. It sounds like it may be coming off at a different angle in the U.K.?

            As I mentioned above/earlier, the strain is absolutely real. But, and I guess this is the rub, it will get better. It certainly takes time to build production, but both Pallas in Germany and GZ in the Czech Republic are adding/building new presses and other plants in Europe are adding additional shifts and ramping up operational hours. It doesn’t help if the labels you’re working with don’t have access to these plants, so I hope they continue to search out those manufacturers that can, and want to, help.

          • Jason Brunton

            Hey Billy – we use MPO in France, RAND in Germany, GZ and others – we do retail and distribution and are often the interface between small labels and the pressing plants. They are all coming to us with the same story, smaller “boutique” labels who can only afford to press 300 copies are completely squeezed out for a quarter of the year or more, pressing plants are adding surcharges to anything less than 500 copies, even for larger labels mistakes and issues with pressing can take between 4 and 12 weeks to sort out……..we’ve not got the answers to the issues at the moment but feel that there’s a problem to be disccussed at the very least.

    • Okay, I’m assuming you’re the same Billy Fields of Warner Music Group?

      My effort here is not simply to rail against Record Store Day, but rather to compile what seemed to me to be a growing number of opinions about the event from people in the business of selling records.

      Now, as far as guilt about absent data points, I’m guilty. I’m rather assuming that the shops and labels in question are looking at data of their own, whether or not they’re sharing, so I don’t think it’s entirely fair to throw their opinions out out of hand – though it is fair to call me on it.

      However, I don’t quite follow your logic here.

      You’re claiming RSD is a resounding success with a ratio of sales in the US that’s roughly twice is week-to-week average for the year.

      Now, that blows holes in my argument that it’s clogging capacity. On the other hand, is a twice-the-average sales single date a resounding success that’s responsible for the resurgence in vinyl sales? I’m just missing where the data is for that.

      The rest of your sales numbers may or may not have anything to do with RSD.

      But it could also all mean that the complaints about capacity are a bunch of hot air… I know at the very least that, whatever the impact of Record Store Day, the bulk of record sales still come from outside the majors, to an extent that I think the indies can’t yet complain that majors are muscling them out.

      • Billy Fields

        Your assumption is correct about me, but I wouldn’t assume that any argument against RSD is using anything other than opinion mixed with a bit of pessimism and vitriol.

        I guess this serves me right for writing comments before coffee while operating a smartphone…

        The data points issue, for me, is that I’ve read all the arguments against RSD and not one actually uses any factual proof. I like to use facts as my basis for my arguments and giving any space for simple rants (or cleverly concealed publicity stunting) is counter to the ultimate goal: keeping RSD reporting accurate and illuminating and seeing RSD improve while including all that want to participate. Like I mention, it’s not perfect and we work every year to improve the event. I may work for a major but I want (actually, we need) as many independent labels and artists in the game. Every major that exists today, was at one time, an independent.

        There is certainly a capacity strain due to RSD. This is the 8th year so the compacting of capacity shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Plan better. The second part of that is increased capacity. In the last 12 months there have been more presses either announced or brought on line than in the preceding, let’s call it, three decades. This is a direct result of the growth of vinyl, brought about by RSD. These two events go hand in hand and the success of RSD begets the success in vinyl.

        There is tremendous growth in the format in the U.S. that would not be in place without Record Store Day. This is easily confirmed by overall growth patterns for the retail segment, the format and shipment data.

        • You’ve already written an op-ed to this effect somewhere, correct? Or … should we consider posting your comments as an op-ed?

          I still am concerned that for many labels and shops, having a “Record Store Day” itself may simply not fit the times *because* of all the renewed interest in records – that they may want to find event-driven marketing that spreads releases out or finds another focus.

          But I agree that pundits – myself included – shouldn’t have a panic attack about constrained production if we don’t have any solid data suggesting that’s the case. (Anecdotes of a botched pressing or two don’t count, and may say more about the reliability of your manufacturing facility than they do about RSD.)

          Also, many, many of these editorials came from Europe, so I would try to get some data there.

          Actually, I suppose that RSD just happened means that we can get solid numbers *after* all of these criticisms – and determine whether they a) were really justified or b) had any impact, anyway.

          • Billy Fields

            All good points, really. Every year we get the opportunity to figure it out all over again. This year won’t be any different.

          • Yeah, absolutely – well, this has started a terrific discussion. It’s clearer now where some of the complaints are coming from on one hand, and I think how they might be balanced against some of the value.

            And the larger questions about formats for DJs and listeners of course deserve some further investigation outside this context.

            I think looking again at the music magazines, yes, there was some vitriol there, so not necessarily my intent to absorb too much of that. 😉

  • “We shouldn’t make a vinyl release some sort of minimum requirement for the seriousness of music, then, unless we want to make the size of your wallet the measure of your music.”

    Fuck. Yes. This all damn day. I have been a DJ for 20 years, started on vinyl, have used Serato Scratch (vinyl emulation), Ableton, controllers, CDJs, you name it. I do not invest in format fetishism. I use what works and what best allows me to express what I am doing without breaking both my back and my bank. And record labels shouldn’t be predicated on access to a trust fund either. People who love music should be able to release music without losing their asses.

  • “We shouldn’t make a vinyl release some sort of minimum requirement for the seriousness of music, then, unless we want to make the size of your wallet the measure of your music.”

    Fuck. Yes. This all damn day. I have been a DJ for 20 years, started on vinyl, have used Serato Scratch (vinyl emulation), Ableton, controllers, CDJs, you name it. I do not invest in format fetishism. I use what works and what best allows me to express what I am doing without breaking both my back and my bank. And record labels shouldn’t be predicated on access to a trust fund either. People who love music should be able to release music without losing their asses.

    I don’t care if I can touch my music. I want to hear music. At the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.

  • Ron Gallipoli

    I agree completely, Peter. Yes, records are beautiful objects, but collecting vinyl has very little to do with music and a lot to do with satisfying the urge to buy. I’ve started a net-label (www.freezingworksmusic.com) and have no interest in releasing vinyl, because digital done properly sounds great, and here in New Zealand the cost of shipping vinyl in and out is extortionate. The only benefit of vinyl (other than the nice cover) is the credibility it buys you among the ‘gatekeepers’ of the industry, precisely because it is expensive and yes, anyone can start a net-label. So the challenge is to be taken seriously; and that would be a really interesting article, examining how net-labels can ‘prove themselves’ to listeners as a reliable source of worthwhile music. As for DJs who think that having a record collection is an essential skill… the mind boggles. I want the industry to be run by the kind of nerd who does things, be that practicing scales or writing software, not by the kind of nerd who buys things.

    • edisonSF

      man, i gotta whole heartedly disagree. first, collecting vinyl is collecting music, literally. if it’s not your thing then fine, but you can’t separate music from records. the only way you can not buy is to stream your music, and i wouldn’t call that collecting anything. in fact it obscures the personal relationship to music, as all music is available to you at anytime, not just what you’ve collected. therefore there is no relation to your music in the stream. the benefit of vinyl is that people who like to own a physical collection can. it’s tactile, it sounds good and it’s an object of art and information. if your netlabel can’t afford vinyl releases thats fine. but then what is the point of a label? somewhere artists can turn to collect and distribute works of music? tunecore, soundcloud beatport all offer the same benefit as a netlabel, and you don’t have to wait on other people to release your songs. it’s the same experience for the artist and listener. why have a curator? as for DJs, having vinyl isn’t a skill… but it is a collection of time you have put into finding music you like. i don’t know… i’ve never DJ’d, but i sure do love my small concise collection of vinyl. finally, if there is a king of the industry… fuck him… he’s the king.

      • Ron Gallipoli

        I don’t think collecting or owning music is important, listening to it is. If access to it comes from a hard drive or a stream instead of an object on a shelf, that doesn’t bother me at all. What matters is being able to hear it. When I feel like I need a large, attractive object in my space, I’ll buy a poster or art book. Note: I have no problem with other people liking and collecting vinyl any more than I do with people who collect antique teapots, it’s just that records are barely more relevant to music itself than the teapots are (at this point in time). As for ‘why run a net-label?’: because it takes effort to get heard in the online world, and I think some things deserve to be heard. The theory is that when people have heard and liked one of our releases, one way or another, they’re more likely to give a chance to another. ‘Curation’ by labels who maintain a coherent musical identity and quality control seems one of the few ways to find what you need online; and also more desirable than a situation where being heard is dependent on having the $$ to get a physical record pressed, as if that were some sort of guarantee of quality.

        • edisonSF

          records haven’t really been a “relevant” medium in the broader consumer public eye for a long time. the internet is THE relevant medium. the beast to figure out and conquer. so, if someone is making money off of music, in any format… why is that bad? it’s supporting some studio, some shop, some label some whatever somewhere. because you can’t afford to print vinyl and someone else can, why does anyone have to level the playing field for you? if someone is looking for your type of music/sound google, youtube, spotify, itunes, blogs, beatport, facebook, beats audio, tidal, soundcloud, bandcamp can do your job for them. someone could be completely independent and have the same impact. that’s the “benefit” of the online industry, and also it’s biggest hurdle. it takes effort to get heard because everyone trying to be heard at once is white noise. the major labels will always be making money, be overpowering the indies and dropping songs in commercials. but don’t say internet non-ownership is the way, and complain when the old way still turns profits. it’s business. do i personally agree with music for mass profits? no. but it’s not changing. and being on the internet putting out music isn’t a stand against anything. you’re still just trying to capture ears. means and ends, tit for tat.

      • As an artist, releasing on a well-connected or emerging netlabel is a nice way to find promotional support, as well as participate in a small, tight-knit community. As a listener, I find it hard to argue against curation. Curation allows me to sift through the noise (so to speak). I’m more likely to give something a chance if it is released on a netlabel that has released other music I like, the same way I’d be more likely to give something a chance if it’s featured on a blog or given a positive review by a music critic whose tastes align with mine.

        • edisonSF

          im not arguing against curation. it’s just available in any online venue. anything online has curation be it algorithmic or personal. a label isn’t really necessary when it’s strictly digital. one artist could do the same thing. i just don’t understand the argument that “it’s hard to be heard on the internet… im going to put more stuff on the internet.”

          • One artist can’t always do the same thing, though? Most algorithms for content discovery are flawed, and many bloggers are inundated with promotional material. In both cases, a known intermediary can be very helpful.

            It’s also nice to feel part of a creative community, and working with a netlabel can be a rewarding way to participate in group aesthetics.

          • edisonSF

            technically one artist can yes. but that’s just being devils advocate really. creative community is always good. my real point is if the internet is fair game for all, then RSD and big money will be there too, no one should complain that things are too busy.

          • You asked about the point of netlabels, and so I explained. Not sure where this other stuff is coming from. Have a good night.

          • edisonSF

            From the article? Ok. You too.

  • Ron Gallipoli

    I agree completely, Peter. Yes, records are beautiful objects, but collecting vinyl has very little to do with music and a lot to do with satisfying the urge to buy. I’ve started a net-label (www.freezingworksmusic.com) and have no interest in releasing vinyl, because digital done properly sounds great, and here in New Zealand the cost of shipping vinyl in and out is extortionate. The only benefit of vinyl (other than the nice cover) is the credibility it buys you among the ‘gatekeepers’ of the industry, precisely because it is expensive and yes, anyone can start a net-label. So the challenge is to be taken seriously; and that would be a really interesting article, examining how net-labels can ‘prove themselves’ to listeners as a reliable source of worthwhile music. As for DJs who think that having a record collection is an essential skill… the mind boggles. I want the industry to be run by the kind of nerd who does things, be that practicing scales or writing software, not by the kind of nerd who buys things.

    • edisonSF

      man, i gotta whole heartedly disagree. first, collecting vinyl is collecting music, literally. if it’s not your thing then fine, but you can’t separate music from records. the only way you can not buy is to stream your music, and i wouldn’t call that collecting anything. in fact it obscures the personal relationship to music, as all music is available to you at anytime, not just what you’ve collected. therefore there is no relation to your music in the stream. the benefit of vinyl is that people who like to own a physical collection can. it’s tactile, it sounds good and it’s an object of art and information. if your netlabel can’t afford vinyl releases thats fine. but then what is the point of a label? somewhere artists can turn to collect and distribute works of music? tunecore, soundcloud beatport all offer the same benefit as a netlabel, and you don’t have to wait on other people to release your songs. it’s the same experience for the artist and listener. why have a curator? as for DJs, having vinyl isn’t a skill… but it is a collection of time you have put into finding music you like. i don’t know… i’ve never DJ’d, but i sure do love my small concise collection of vinyl. finally, if there is a king of the industry… fuck him… he’s the king.

      • Ron Gallipoli

        I don’t think collecting or owning music is important, listening to it is. If access to it comes from a hard drive or a stream instead of an object on a shelf, that doesn’t bother me at all. What matters is being able to hear it. When I feel like I need a large, attractive object in my space, I’ll buy a poster or art book. Note: I have no problem with other people liking and collecting vinyl any more than I do with people who collect antique teapots, it’s just that records are barely more relevant to music itself than the teapots are (at this point in time). As for ‘why run a net-label?’: because it takes effort to get heard in the online world, and I think some things deserve to be heard. The theory is that when people have heard and liked one of our releases, one way or another, they’re more likely to give a chance to another. ‘Curation’ by labels who maintain a coherent musical identity and quality control seems one of the few ways to find what you need online; and also more desirable than a situation where being heard is dependent on having the $$ to get a physical record pressed, as if that were some sort of guarantee of quality.

        • edisonSF

          records haven’t really been a “relevant” medium in the broader consumer public eye for a long time. the internet is THE relevant medium. the beast to figure out and conquer. so, if someone is making money off of music, in any format… why is that bad? it’s supporting some studio, some shop, some label some whatever somewhere. because you can’t afford to print vinyl and someone else can, why does anyone have to level the playing field for you? if someone is looking for your type of music/sound google, youtube, spotify, itunes, blogs, beatport, facebook, beats audio, tidal, soundcloud, bandcamp can do your job for them. someone could be completely independent and have the same impact. that’s the “benefit” of the online industry, and also it’s biggest hurdle. it takes effort to get heard because everyone trying to be heard at once is white noise. the major labels will always be making money, be overpowering the indies and dropping songs in commercials. but don’t say internet non-ownership is the way, and complain when the old way still turns profits. it’s business. do i personally agree with music for mass profits? no. but it’s not changing. and being on the internet putting out music isn’t a stand against anything. you’re still just trying to capture ears. means and ends, tit for tat.

      • As an artist, releasing on a well-connected or emerging netlabel is a nice way to find promotional support, as well as participate in a small, tight-knit community. As a listener, I find it hard to argue against curation. Curation allows me to sift through the noise (so to speak). I’m more likely to give something a chance if it is released on a netlabel that has released other music I like, the same way I’d be more likely to give something a chance if it’s featured on a blog or given a positive review by a music critic whose tastes align with mine.

        • edisonSF

          im not arguing against curation. it’s just available in any online venue. anything online has curation be it algorithmic or personal. a label isn’t really necessary when it’s strictly digital. one artist could do the same thing. i just don’t understand the argument that “it’s hard to be heard on the internet… im going to put more stuff on the internet.”

          • One artist can’t always do the same thing, though? Most algorithms for content discovery are flawed, and many bloggers are inundated with promotional material. In both cases, a known intermediary can be very helpful.

            It’s also nice to feel part of a creative community, and working with a netlabel can be a rewarding way to participate in group aesthetics.

          • edisonSF

            technically one artist can yes. but that’s just being devils advocate really. creative community is always good. my real point is if the internet is fair game for all, then RSD and big money will be there too, no one should complain that things are too busy.

          • You asked about the point of netlabels, and so I explained. Not sure where this other stuff is coming from. Have a good night.

          • edisonSF

            From the article? Ok. You too.

  • Scotticus Finch

    This is why I love this site – so fucking reasonable.

  • Scotticus Finch

    This is why I love this site – so fucking reasonable.

  • jj

    Outside of artist outreach and the never ending indie vs Major there is the ongoing issue of supply, demand and market saturation. We’re headed _back_ into training the (still) shrinking brick and mortar market and their distributors into buying deep on RSD. This will lead to more small businesses having cash flow issues or going out of business.

    What does this matter?

    * label increases output to meet distributor demand
    * label goes into debt or negative cash flow to meet demand
    * items ship to distro
    * distro ships to store
    * store buys large quantities of items from various labels from the distro
    * distro ships to store

    here’s where the industry started to collapse before (and still does). Of course the manufacturers are glad to increase output. As are the major labels to encourage it.

    * distro makes deal with stores or sub-distro for large returns up to 24 months (deals vary) after they ship. These deals are rarely relayed to the labels distributing.

    * label thinks they’ve done well – they sold out of a pressing to stores. Actually – they didn’t – the stores can technically still return any unsold product. They go negative sales because of all of the returns to the distro they weren’t aware of. They now technically owe money to the distro or can _pay_ to have their own product returned to them. If the label had a digital deal with the distributor – the distro will now take those profits to pay off the physical media debt.

    Who does well with this?

    * The manufacturers (to be fair – good for them)

    * The distributors

    Who is always the pawn?

    * The owners of the content
    * The record store or smaller websites / boutique sellers

    Now. All labels handle these returns differently. Some eat it. Some go out of business. Some take the returns, destroy the media and record it as a loss. Many will ding the royalties of the artists (if involved) with these losses – amplifying the cost of returns and the cost of distribution.

    With America specifically – it’s a capitalist democracy and this is how the sales market works unfortunately. Got to get yours. With the EU – there are some mechanical royalties built into the pressing equation which can result in labels being more selective in how they choose to press a record. There is a degree of know how, label responsibility and business savvy that goes along with all of this. I don’t want to get into the conversation of ‘greater good’ or who’s carrying the burden of the artists these days. Just a note on the mechanics of how you get those records into your hands.

    A quick background – I’ve owned and worked for both independent film and music labels. Even been in bands, DJ’d and toured extensively. I’ve seen this happen again and again – like all issues, it’s circular.

    Long time listener on this site … first time caller. Interested in the thoughts of others on this.

  • jj

    Outside of artist outreach and the never ending indie vs Major there is the ongoing issue of supply, demand and market saturation. We’re headed _back_ into training the (still) shrinking brick and mortar market and their distributors into buying deep on RSD. This will lead to more small businesses having cash flow issues or going out of business.

    What does this matter?

    * label increases output to meet distributor demand
    * label goes into debt or negative cash flow to meet demand
    * items ship to distro
    * distro ships to store
    * store buys large quantities of items from various labels from the distro
    * distro ships to store

    here’s where the industry started to collapse before (and still does). Of course the manufacturers are glad to increase output. As are the major labels to encourage it.

    * distro makes deal with stores or sub-distro for large returns up to 24 months (deals vary) after they ship. These deals are rarely relayed to the labels distributing.

    * label thinks they’ve done well – they sold out of a pressing to stores. Actually – they didn’t – the stores can technically still return any unsold product. They go negative sales because of all of the returns to the distro they weren’t aware of. They now technically owe money to the distro or can _pay_ to have their own product returned to them. If the label had a digital deal with the distributor – the distro will now take those profits to pay off the physical media debt.

    Who does well with this?

    * The manufacturers (to be fair – good for them)

    * The distributors

    Who is always the pawn?

    * The owners of the content
    * The record store or smaller websites / boutique sellers

    Now. All labels handle these returns differently. Some eat it. Some go out of business. Some take the returns, destroy the media and record it as a loss. Many will ding the royalties of the artists (if involved) with these losses – amplifying the cost of returns and the cost of distribution.

    With America specifically – it’s a capitalist democracy and this is how the sales market works unfortunately. Got to get yours. With the EU – there are some mechanical royalties built into the pressing equation which can result in labels being more selective in how they choose to press a record. There is a degree of know how, label responsibility and business savvy that goes along with all of this. I don’t want to get into the conversation of ‘greater good’ or who’s carrying the burden of the artists these days. Just a note on the mechanics of how you get those records into your hands. I believe it’s a perpetual bubble market.

    A quick background – I’ve owned and worked for both independent film and music labels. Even been in bands, DJ’d and toured extensively. I’ve seen this happen again and again – like all issues, it’s circular.

    Long time listener on this site … first time caller. Interested in the thoughts of others on this.

  • oh/ex/oh

    I always thought RSD was about supporting your local independent record store—the clue is in the name. As such, RSD seemed noble to me; support your local indie. The limited vinyls were a nice attraction to create PR and an incentive but they weren’t the reason to go, at least not for me.

    Unfortunately over the past few years the RSD releases have come to dominate and ruin the day. Over the weekend I read an article from the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2015/mar/20/record-store-day-is-thriving-but-could-it-kill-our-independent-shops) which frankly disgusted me,

    “RSD stock is offered by distributors on terms known as “firm sale”, which means that the shops can’t return it and have to pay up front, and they order high, in the hope that they will get the sought-after items…

    “‘You can spend many thousands more than you’d like,’ one shop owner told me. ‘Then your profit is tied up in the records that haven’t sold. A small shop could feasibly sell everything on the day and pay its rent for a year, but it could drive a shop out of business.’…

    “The knock-on effect is just as dramatic: with shops’ budgets eaten up, they are much more reluctant to order releases in the run-up to, or immediately after, RSD.”

    What?! These are practices which do way more harm than good.

    THIS should be the focus of scrutiny and boycott.

    NOT vinyl records (this part of the article baffles me to be honest)

    Going to the local record store is about the experience. It’s a chance for something to catch your ear and/or eye. It’s a chance to chat to some like minded people whilst picking up the odd flyer for upcoming local events.

    We don’t need RSD to do this, any day works just as well (probably better even).

    • King Vampire

      Don’t believe everything the Guardian says.

  • oh/ex/oh

    I always thought RSD was about supporting your local independent record store—the clue is in the name. As such, RSD seemed noble to me; support your local indie. The limited vinyls were a nice attraction to create PR and an incentive but they weren’t the reason to go, at least not for me.

    Unfortunately over the past few years the RSD releases have come to dominate and ruin the day. Over the weekend I read an article from the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2015/mar/20/record-store-day-is-thriving-but-could-it-kill-our-independent-shops) which frankly disgusted me,

    “RSD stock is offered by distributors on terms known as “firm sale”, which means that the shops can’t return it and have to pay up front, and they order high, in the hope that they will get the sought-after items…

    “‘You can spend many thousands more than you’d like,’ one shop owner told me. ‘Then your profit is tied up in the records that haven’t sold. A small shop could feasibly sell everything on the day and pay its rent for a year, but it could drive a shop out of business.’…

    “The knock-on effect is just as dramatic: with shops’ budgets eaten up, they are much more reluctant to order releases in the run-up to, or immediately after, RSD.”

    What?! These are practices which do way more harm than good.

    THIS should be the focus of scrutiny and boycott.

    NOT vinyl records (this part of the article baffles me to be honest)

    Going to the local record store is about the experience. It’s a chance for something to catch your ear and/or eye. It’s a chance to chat to some like minded people whilst picking up the odd flyer for upcoming local events.

    We don’t need RSD to do this, any day works just as well (probably better even).

    • King Vampire

      Don’t believe everything the Guardian says.

  • King Vampire

    This is one of the most trite and jaded articles I have ever read. Record Store Day started as a way to celebrate the local record shops, which were dying because of big chain stores like Wal-Mart, Target, online stores like Amazon, and digital downloading. Many artists, both big and local, support record store day. Exclusives are released that day as part of the celebration, not everyone buys them. I went to my local record shop for RSD and got exclusives of fave artists. Many people were doing the same thing. Others don’t buy the exclusives, and just go to shop and help support the local business so it doesn’t close down. Exclusives are only part of it. And many artist release special on that day because they want to. At my local record store, they sold food and drinks, and had local bands performing. It was a celebration of music, and why it shouldn’t be destroyed, but enjoyed. I like vinyl, I like CDs. I like listening to music, and owning a physical copy so I can listen to it, whenever I want, wherever I want, for free. Buying records supports the local record shop who are suffering badly during this economy, and to support the artists. If artists just gave away their music for free as downloading, how are they going to put bread on the table.

  • King Vampire

    This is one of the most trite and jaded articles I have ever read. Record Store Day started as a way to celebrate the local record shops, which were dying because of big chain stores like Wal-Mart, Target, online stores like Amazon, and digital downloading. Many artists, both big and local, support record store day. Exclusives are released that day as part of the celebration, not everyone buys them. I went to my local record shop for RSD and got exclusives of fave artists. Many people were doing the same thing. Others don’t buy the exclusives, and just go to shop and help support the local business so it doesn’t close down. Exclusives are only part of it. And many artist release special on that day because they want to. At my local record store, they sold food and drinks, and had local bands performing. It was a celebration of music, and why it shouldn’t be destroyed, but enjoyed. I like vinyl, I like CDs. I like listening to music, and owning a physical copy so I can listen to it, whenever I want, wherever I want, for free. Buying records supports the local record shop who are suffering badly during this economy, and to support the artists. If artists just gave away their music for free as downloading, how are they going to put bread on the table.

  • INCA

    I’m all for netalbel day if they ditch lossy ,mp3s. Make it lossless or no dice.

  • INCA

    I’m all for netalbel day if they ditch lossy ,mp3s. Make it lossless or no dice.