I could have
interrupted with an "excuse me," but after picking through the racks a
second time and finding nothing, I assumed every RSD release I wanted
was sold out. So, I went home and downloaded free copies of every RSD
album I wanted. My computer responded with neither awkward
interruptions nor snooty looks.
Actually, I grabbed one thing from Easy Street that afternoon: a copy of the free weekly paper, which had an interview with RSD co-founder Eric Levin assailing the film High Fidelity for giving local record shops an elitist reputation.
"We've never had anything like the fiction presented by Jack Black,"
[Levin] says. "In many ways, High Fidelity's one of the reasons we
started Record Store Day. It did a lot of damage."
I laughed when I saw that quote. Man, I wish I could go to a record
store these days and expect a Jack Black-level of interaction with a
To prove my point, I took a friend with me on the day
after Record Store Day to a competing store for a good 20 minutes. We,
along with five other customers, picked through records, looked at
magazines, eyed the toy bin suspiciously, and did anything else that
would make us look confused or wayward. The store's sole clerk didn't
I eventually took the initiative, mostly
because I noticed a huge poster for the Baltimore rock duo Wye Oak. The
band was coming to town in a week for a concert, it said, and
conveniently, a friend had just recommended their 2009 album off Merge
Records. I approached the clerk, who stood in front of that poster, and
asked if she had a Wye Oak CD I could listen to. The clerk looked
befuddled. I repeated the band name.
"Could you spell that?"
she asked. I resisted the urge to rip the poster off the counter and
hold it up, instead spelling it out, and thankfully, she had a copy of
The Knot handy along a rack of hundreds of promo CDs. Boy, was the disc
pretty--if the female-fronted, morphine-drip Americana of Low took on
some of the urgency and bleeding-guitar tricks of Autolux. I had to
I can't say I'd have bought the CD if I'd hadn't
listened to it at a spacious store's listening kiosk or hadn't been
reminded by the gig poster. A MySpace listen doesn't always translate
to an iTunes spree. And to the store's credit, beyond that promo CD
selection, it devoted a listening station to bands coming to town for
the next month, which is the kind of hyper-local content I expect a
store to deliver. I appreciated some of the tactility I found on Day
After Record Store Day. But ultimately, my experience was an awkward take on what I could have dug up on a computer instead.
Where does the independent music store fit into the average music-listener's song-buying pattern? The freshest stats freely available
pegged independent shops with less than 28 percent of 2008 music sales,
while iTunes, Amazon, and major brick-and-mortar retailers (Wal-Mart,
Best Buy, Target, etc.) divvied up the rest. With that in mind, I
appreciate RSD as a means of getting the attention of big-box shoppers.
After all, the only thing that seems more archaic to me than buying a
CD is buying one next to the Monster Cable stand at Best Buy.