Your Take: Gold Records

Karlie Justus Marlowe | April 16th, 2011

Today marks Record Store Day, a day-long celebration of independent music store retailers, limited-edition releases and in-store performances. This week, the Chicagoist took a look at the history and business sides of the “holiday”:

Founded in in 2007 by individuals from several corners of the music industry — including education, A&R, and promotions — Record Store Day’s original purpose was to “celebrate independently-owned record stores com[ing] together with artists to celebrate the art of music.” The day’s events are usually marked by in-store performances, artist meet-and-greets, and of course, (usually on vinyl, but also on CD or video). Promotion, media attention and a bump in foot traffic (at least for that one day) are a boon for indie record shops, which RSD organizers define as “a retailer whose main primary business focuses on a physical store location, whose product line consists of at least 50% music retail, whose company is not publicly traded and whose ownership is at least 70% located in the state of operation.”

Still, the event has also been criticized as a shameless cash-grab. Often merchandise of questionable real “collector-level”–or even consumer-level–value are promoted like must-own items: 7″ picture discs of a group’s hit single, re-releases on colored vinyl or superfluous box sets are common offenders. Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to decide what value they wish to assign to something like Karen Elson’s “Vicious/”In Trouble with the Lord” 7″, which comes peach scented with peach colored rose petals inside the record.

Another gray area exists in whether special releases marketed as “rare” are indeed that; sometimes “limited” is all that needs to be said to incite fans to snap up a particular release because of its perceived scarcity. When an item like is “limited” to 5,000 copies, rarity becomes a bit relative.

The Saving Country Music blog notes that while “country music might ignore” Record Store Day, there are still a few country artists – including Justin Townes Earle and Whitey Morgan & The 78’s – offering special deals and performing at indie retailers.

Are you celebrating Record Store Day, and are there any country releases or performances that have caught your eye? Do you think it’s a marketing ploy, a way to support indie retailers and good music, or some combination of both? Do you think country music ignores or is underrepresented on Record Store Day?

  1. Paul W Dennis
    April 16, 2011 at 7:45 am

    The title YOUR TAKE: GOLD RECORDS is rather misleading – I was expecting something entirely different

    T think the concept of record store day is a good one, but there are so few of them left that I suspect large areas of the country are unable to partake of this “event”

  2. Noeller
    April 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

    It’s on my sorta “bucket list” (for lack of a better term…) to get a record player at some point, and establish a vinyl collection. I was born in 1980, so I kinda missed the LP generation and came into my own with CDs. I consider myself somewhat of an audiophile, and understand that LPs are still the great audio format, so I’d really like to have a collection at some point. I know guys like Jamey Johnson are still releasing a limited edition on LP, and hopefully other artists will continue to do so!

  3. Jon
    April 16, 2011 at 10:07 am

    the event has also been criticized as a shameless cash-grab.

    Really? By whom?

    sometimes “limited” is all that needs to be said to incite fans to snap up a particular release because of its perceived scarcity.

    Really? Says who?

  4. Rickster
    April 16, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Independent music stores are a rapidly dying breed. Out here in the LA area we still have some Wherehouse and F.Y.E. stores (which own The Wherehouse) but small indie music stores are few and far between. I’d expect most retail outlet CDs are sold these days through Walmart, Best Buy, and Target and if those chains decide to drop CD sales at some point then there won’t be many stores left to buy them at period.

    Here in LA we still have the giant Amoeba Records music store and it will be interesting to see how long they survive in this age of downloading and MP3’s. (Their pathetic parking situation sure doesn’t help matters any.)

    Noeller, the sonic virtues of vinyl records are very spotty at best. Prior to the advent of digital sound and CDs what made some LP records sound so good was the analog gear they were recorded on and careful mastering and production. Even before CDs most LPs didn’t sound that great and were prone to ticks and pops unless meticulously maintained. Nowadays I’d expect most vinyl LPs of new music are drawn from digital masters that were recorded in the digital realm, so they are not comparable to the all analog pre-CD era in terms of sound quality.

    On the other hand using vintage analog recording gear doesn’t guarantee decent sound quality as T Bone Burnett’s thin and lifeless production approach on the debut album by “The Secret Sisters” proved in spades…

  5. Fizz
    April 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Record Store Day, to me, seems like too little too late. The number of independent record stores has been dwindling for at least fifteen years, yet this bogus “holiday” was only established in 2007. Seems like just another flailing, fumbling attempt by the industry to save itself.

    And I’ve always found the appeal of vinyl to be overrated. The equally outdated eight-track format has become a punchline, but somehow, vinyl is revered. I don’t get it.

    Jon: “Really? By whom? … Says who?” Would it matter if they had named Jesus Christ himself and quoted him directly on the subject? Since the opinion is different from yours, you’d just say, “Well, he’s more a specialist in the natural-healing industry, who is he in music circles?”

    April 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    @Karlie – Looks like you will have to substantiate with statistics and other verifiable proofs your assertions to satisfy Jon.

  7. Jon
    April 16, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Fizz seems to think I have an opinion on the subject; I might, but I haven’t expressed it yet, so his “the opinion is different than yours” is based on nothing in particular. My questions were just that; questions. I’ve never seen anyone call Record Store Day a cash-grab, never noticed that it was sufficient simply to label something as “limited” in order to sell thousands of copies. Enlighten me – and, while you’re at it, explain why you put “holiday” in quotes as though the Record Store Day folks have ever called it that. Well, no need for Fizz to explain why – he’s simply following Karlie’s lead. Way to stick it to Da Man, Fizz!

  8. Ollie
    April 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I’m sorry- I can’t help myself. Is anyone else struck by the irony of Paul W. Dennis’s comment?

  9. Fizz
    April 16, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    That’s right Jon, silly me. I forgot. Mr. Objective never has an opinion on anything, except people who do. This is a guy who takes “opinions and assholes” to heart: they ALL stink.

  10. Ryan
    April 17, 2011 at 12:21 am

    By the title i though this was an article about the lack of gold records these day… Anyway i did go to the local record store today and i really enjoyed Record Store Day. Got some cool vinyl singles and albums and caught a few performances (Alabama’s A Day Game was right down the road, so i was torn between the two events) It was a good event all around, and it helps out the mama and papa records stores. Overall i really think country music doesn’t care about the event, because the only country thing i saw was a Buck Owens 7″ of “Close Up The Honkytonks.”

  11. Fizz
    April 17, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Used to have a little mom-and-pop record store in my town. Same place I bought some of my first cassettes when I was a kid. They closed down about five years ago. Deal was, the lady that owned the place had gotten caught selling bootleg CD’s out the back. An undercover agent went in there asking for the new Toby Keith, and she told him it wasn’t out yet, but she could get it for him anyway. Seriously. So supposedly, she was going to have to shut down after that. She had a going-out-of-business sale and everything. Then probably eight months later, somebody gave me a gift-card for the place for Christmas, and I said, “I thought she was closed down!” Nope, she was still open, as if nothing had happened. Guess she must’ve cut some kind of deal. But she didn’t last another year. Died of lung cancer. It’s a Verizon store now.

  12. Donald
    April 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    >>>This is a guy who takes “opinions and assholes” to heart: they ALL stink.

    Too bad for you, I suppose. Not to defend Jon, but blanket statements should require some support or substance. Shouldn't they? Or is that a blanket statement that requires support?

    How about we talk about the music, the industry, rather than fire off non-meaningful missives that usually miss their mark?

    I wish I lived near a store that embraced this concept. The industry, especially the independent stores, need all the support they can get. Meanwhile, if anyone has a copy of that Steve Earle 45 that was available at select stores….

  13. Jon
    April 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Point is, e blog entry Karlie quoted said:

    “Still, the event has also been criticized as a shameless cash-grab.”

    But no one is quoted to that effect in the piece, and it’s not in the interview with a sort-of critic that that piece links to, either. So either 1) this is just the blogger’s way of making the criticism without taking responsibility for it, which stinks, or 2) it’s something the writer just made up,which also stinks, or 3) it’s something the writer vaguely remembers from somewhere but couldn’t be bothered to track down, which also stinks, but is at least based on something. Just curious as to which it was, and the same was true with respect to the other vague generality – although in the latter case, if it’s actually true, I’d like to know, because my CD is definitely in limited supply, so if I can sell a bunch by tagging it as such, I’m definitely down for it.

  14. TX music jim
    April 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I am still forunate enough to have a mom and pop record store in my area. Bills records in Dallas next door to poor davids pub has managed to stay open somehow. They still do in store appearences that are publizied on the local Americana station KHYI. They sell tickets to shows next door at poor davids. However, I can’t imagine they will make it a much longer I can’t see how the numbers work. They have a lot of collectables besides albums and cd’s posters t shirts etc. We will see. I still enjoy digging thru the record bins.

  15. M.C.
    April 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    @Rick–T Bone Burnett didn’t produce the Secret Sisters, Dave Cobb did. Burnett was the executive producer and wasn’t in the studio or involved in the recording. He did release the album on his label, though, so presumably he approved of the sound. Having just heard them live recently, Laura and Lydia Rogers come off better in person than on record. But that also could have to do with nearly a year of constant performing. On the other hand, Jack White certainly had a different concept of how to produce them with his one-off single.

    @Fizz–The music industry didn’t start Record Store Day. It was started by Chris Brown, who owns the indie record stores Bull Moose in Maine, to draw attention to, well, old-style independent record stores. Of course once it drew success, the major labels now try to dovetail with it–they’d be stupid not to do that. But from what I see the majority of stores offer a day that celebrates their customers as much as it does their own businesses. That all seems positive to me.

  16. Jessica
    April 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I enjoyed Record Store Day as it gives a chance for the community to support a local business. Ear-X-Tacy in Louisville and CD Central in Lexington are my favorite stores when it comes to finding rare bluegrass/country albums. The other day I was able to find unopened albums of Hank, Jr., Waylon, Tammy Wynette, Willie, and more.

    I’ve had a collection of records for a while and have been putting them in frames to place on the wall. Pretty cool way to showcase my favorite musical interests and a good conversation starter.

    I salute these record stores because they were the only ones that have had new releases by Alison Krauss, Hank III, the Secret Sisters, and more on release date. Ear-X-Tacy even hosts free concerts prior to major shows at Headliners in Louisville. Charlie Louvin bragged about the store for helping getting his music out there.

    I don’t see Record Store Day as a money grabber. I think it is more of a support your local economy day.

    In regards to country albums, there were more than Buck Owens available. Here’s the list:

  17. Saving Country Music
    April 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I love and embrace the idea behind Record Store Day, but I think 2011 will be the year that will go down when it became a bit, where the good intentions of consumers was exploited by some, the “limited -edition” gimmicks got out of hand, and yes, some used it as a shameless cash grab.

    You can quote me on that.

  18. Jon
    April 24, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    How is selling merchandise to willing buyers a shameless cash grab?

    April 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Free market capitalism baby! The way it should be.

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