This year is the UK’s seventh annual celebration of Record Store Day, where UK independent record stores come together and make a special tribute to the art of music. The first Record Store Day started in US in 2007, it was such a huge success that UK followed a year after.
On 19th April 2014 record stores will be stocked with special vinyl and CD releases, and various promotional products exclusively for this one-day celebration. Artists and DJs will make special appearances, engage with fans through meet-&-greets, and stores will arrange music quizzes and various other events.
For some, this event leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Many smaller labels and independent distributors complain year on year about the pressing plants being over capacity during the lead up to Record Store Day, which can result in problems with their planning department and release schedule. Many major record labels who ditched the vinyl format years ago will submit one-off huge orders to the pressing plants, making this time of year by far the busiest for vinyl manufacturers. These huge orders tend to push the smaller labels right to the back of the queue, longer production times can be expected and communication with suppliers can become trickier.
Baring in mind that Record Store Day started in 2007, this should really come as no surprise to independent record labels and distributors, and in my opinion this is a small price to pay for such an exciting celebration of the physical format. Each year pressing plants will remind their clients of a potential slow-down from as early as February, giving us weeks of preparation time and planning. Maintaining excellent supplier relations along with careful planning and constant communication should always make this time of year straight forward for the small independent companies. Sure, things can take longer during this period, but working in the music services sector has always required exceptional competence in areas including ‘planning’. Vinyl is not a simple format to produce, and years of expertise has prepared us to expect that things can go wrong from time-to-time.
In most industries there are seasonal peaks and troughs, for me I simply find it hard to complain about the busiest and most exciting time of year for the physical format. Being involved in the music services sector for over a decade, I still think of myself as lucky to be working with such great artists and labels who are enthusiastic about releasing their music on vinyl.
The most common complaint I hear about Record Store Day is that those who press records 365 days a year get pushed aside by pressing plants during this period, to make way for these major labels who generally haven’t cared about vinyl for years. In reality we experience a few weeks delay, and who is better to cope with this than the people pressing vinyl 365 days a year.