It’s been nearly a week on since this year’s Record Store Day with stores around the world celebrating the importance of independent record stores with unique gigs, specials, and events, while punters turned out in their droves to support grassroots retailers and snap up some of the huge list of exclusive releases on offer (many of which wound up on eBay thanks to touters).
But has the aim of Record Store Day – to get people back into the shops and buying physical product – actually had a positive effect as a result? The latest statistics from both the US and UK markets suggest not only was the annual event successful, but was record breaking.
In both America and England, album sales of vinyl experienced a huge boost thanks to Record Store Day, with Billboard reporting that in the States, Nielsen SoundScan stats show a total of 224,000 LPs were sold in the week ending April 21st. Which may seem like a relatively small figure in the age of digital downloads, but is in actual fact the largest one week sales for the vintage format since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.
The new one week vinyl sales record trumps the previous record, set in the week leading up to Christmas last year on December 23rd where 213,000 vinyl LPs were sold. The 224,000 figure for Record Store Day 2013 also trumps the 2012 edition, with the week ending April 22nd 2012 shifting 172,000 vinyl albums.
Even more encouraging is that the dominant amount of sales for Record Store Day 2013 were, as intended, from independent stores, with approximately 200,000 of the 224,000 vinyl albums total being sold from indie shops, while the total number of albums sold in indie stores was 544,000 units – an increase of 59% from the previous sales week and a boost of 3% on last year’s Record Store Day. A total of 224,000 LPs were sold in the week ending April 21st… the largest one weeks sales for the vintage format [since] 1991.
It was the long list of exclusives and collector’s only limited editions that helped drive sales, says Record Store Day co-founder Michael Kurtz. “Record Store Day increased the number of special releases we did this year to over 400 titles, as compared to about 300 last year,” Kurtz says. “This was done mainly to accommodate regional releases and small runs from independently owned labels.”
As the ballooning prices on eBay of limited edition vinyl releases from David Bowie, The Flaming Lips, and Australia’s own Tame Impala demonstrate, demand is still high for product specifically created and released for the annual event, while the albums charts reflected a number of Record Store Day exclusive titles cropping up as best sellers for the week.
Billboard‘s Tastemakers Albums chart, which ranks the top 25 best selling releases at independent and small chain music retailers, saw a storming new entrant in the Live At Bull Moose EP by Mumford & Sons. The EP debuted at #6, with nearly 3,000 copies sold (almost a third of the 10,000 produced), while turning up on the Billboard Top 200 at #174.
There was a similar effect over in the UK, with the Official Charts Company trumpeting the positive boost that Record Store Day had on vinyl sales, with a reported eight of the Top 10 biggest selling vinyl LPs of the week being Record Store Day exclusives.
As a result, the data demonstrates that independent records enjoyed an increase of much as 60% to album sales on last year’s event, while single sales were up by 20% year-on-year, with indie shops reporting an average customer spend of approximately £45 (AU$ 67.47).
Record Store Day coordinator Spencer Hickman remarked of the positive statistics: “…proved yet again indie stores are more than just shops – at their best they are a focus for the passion, the excitement, the stubborn belief in the power of great music which is the hallmark of the true music fan.”
“What was particularly exciting visiting stores on Saturday was to see so many families who had made a day out of it, and were clearly introducing a whole new generation to the joys of record buying,” Mr Hickman added.
Paul Quirk, Chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association in the UK says that it wasn’t just product that drived consumers into stores, but the unique events and shows that indie stores organised. “What is clear is that it is the stores which have done the most in terms of organising gigs and special events which have seen the highest sales,” he said. “Being a music fan is about more than just shopping, and those stores which recognise that are the stores who will prosper.” – Paul Quirk, Chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association UK
“Being a music fan is about more than just shopping, and those stores which recognise that are the stores who will prosper,” Mr Quirk added. “I am continually amazed by the effort record store owners and their staff put into this event.”
Mr Quirk also spoke about the efforts of Record Store Day organisers to introduce measures to next year’s event to reduce the number of ‘touts’ buying up exclusives with the intent of selling it off through online auction sites to profiteer off of music collectors’ desires, as MusicWeek reports.
“There is a lot of revulsion among music fans when people try to cash in on Record Store Day. But the stores have made strenuous efforts to restrict this trade and our researchers suggest less than 2% of product ended up on eBay this year – which means that 98% did not,” Mr Quirk states. “I am confident we can continue to reduce the impact of this problem.”
Aussie acts are among the many Record Store Day exclusives that have turned up on online auction sites from enterprising sellers, with Tame Impala’s 12″ expansion of their 2008 self-titled EP, pressed onto red vinyl, fetching price tags upwards of US$ 60 – 70 on eBay, while Cut Copy’s debut album Like Neon Love, issued for the first time on vinyl thanks to Modular, has reached similar price levels.
Other blow-outs include a rare vinyl re-issue of Sigur Rós’ 1999 breakthrough album Ágætis Byrjun, reaching north of the hundred dollar mark for American sellers. Likewise At The Drive-In’s own iconic 2000 release will also have record collector’s wincing, with the re-issue of their last album, Relationship of Command on stunning marbled orange vinyl, is averaging $AU 60+ and one seller has seen bids push the price up to nearly AU$ 150.
They pale in comparison to one touter looking to offload a four-LP, blue-pressed vinyl release of a Dave Matthews Band live album for a cool AU$ 560.