Record Store Day: Celebrating Your Local Music Store

Even though most people listen to their music through streaming, vinyl records still have a devoted following.

Each year on the third Saturday of April is Record Store Day, where vinyl devotees descend upon local record stores to get exclusive releases by a multitude of artists. This year’s releases ranged from AC/DC’s “Back in Black” on cassette to a vinyl re-release of the single disc edit of Prince’s “1999.” Everything comes in a limited supply and is only distributed to participating record stores.  

Record Store Day first started in 2007, soon after the collapse of Tower Records. Its demise was viewed as a defeat for traditional music stores and a victory for digital music sales. Chris Brown, an employee of a small music chain in New England, suggested that music stores look to Free Comic Book Day as a way to attract customers to traditional music stores, according to Fortune Magazine. Free Comic Book Day helped save flagging independent comic book stores, so why couldn’t something similar be done for record stores?  

The following year, the first Record Store Day was held on April 19, 2008, with 300 stores participating in the United States. The number of stores and exclusive releases grew dramatically throughout the following years.

Record Store Day continued to get more attention with each passing year. In 2009, the judges on American Idol discussed their favorite records in honor of the event. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made an announcement that officially recognized Record Store Day as a citywide celebration. Record Store Day also began to grow internationally in 2009, with stores in countries like Japan and Italy participating.

Similar to the effect that Free Comic Book Day’s had on comic book stores, Record Store Day has been beneficial for local record stores. According to NME, it has been “the single best thing that has ever happened” to independent record stores. In 2016, Record Store Day produced the biggest week of sales seen for the vinyl LP format since 1991, according to Billboard.  

While adored by music fans, Record Store Day has been criticized for being aimed at record collectors rather than casual listeners. The high prices for the exclusive releases may support this claim.  

Even if you cannot afford the more expensive box sets, there are multiple releases that can fit within anyone’s budget. Multiple bands release special 7-inch singles for Record Store Day that are affordable, not going above $15-$20. Most stores also offer free commemorative merchandise as well, so you’re bound to purchase something.  

This year, Record Store Day was on April 21. The Compact Disc Center, a Bethlehem record store on Easton Ave., participated in the celebration.

Being a vinyl collector myself, I ventured out to the Center in search of some exclusive releases. I made a list of records to look for, which included the aforementioned Prince release and several David Bowie exclusive releases.

Upon my arrival, I found that most of the releases I was looking for had either not been stocked Compact Disc Center or been already bought. Not wanting to leave empty-handed, I searched through almost their entire vinyl selection.

I found a used 4-LP box set of Sonic Youth’s “Daydream Nation” for $20, a deal I couldn’t pass up.  

Even though I didn’t buy any Record Store Day releases, I still received a free tote bag and a promotional CD. I left satisfied, knowing I found a good deal while also supporting a local business.

If you could not make it for Record Store Day, you can always visit the Compact Disc Center any time. The day not only makes for a great once-a-year celebration but also serves as an introduction to independent record stores, perhaps allowing for continued support throughout the year.