It seems though the most popular musical mediums change with each passing decade, long playing vinyl records, also known as LPs, have stood the test of time. The places that sell them have not.
But the days of the independent record store have been rapidly dwindling since the creation of the MP3 and the iPod, and Michael Kurtz, the founder of the Department of Record Stores took notice and developed the annual Record Store Day on April 20 to try to draw awareness and boost sales.
Record Store Day, now in its sixth year, celebrates the timelessness of records in an ever-evolving digitalized world with exclusive releases and special discounts.
“Kala Records closed, which was the biggest independently owned chain of record stores, and all the media coverage of record stores was pretty negative,” Kurtz said. “We wanted to try to create some event that was really positive to draw attention to just the music itself and our experience so we could share that with the other folks.”
Kurtz said he now has an appreciation for how many people actually use, collect and play vinyl records.
“With Record Store Day everyone comes in on one day and really shows their love for indie record stores,” he said. “For the independent stores it is way bigger than Christmas now. It’s the biggest sales day of the year.”
Now there is a thriving niche market for vinyl collectors everywhere. They can support their favorite artists and community by buying locally, while helping to support a market that many depend on.
On Record Store Day, many artists release special albums just for the occasion, which is a big draw for many collectors and consumers. Among thousands of artists expected to release materials are Best Coast, The Black Keys, The Flaming Lips and Grizzly Bear.
Robbie Williams, an employee at Daddy Kool Records in St. Pete, said Record Store Day has helped Daddy Kool.
“Daddy Kool has been open since 1985, but we’ve been doing Record Store Day for about five years. It’s a fairly new concept,” he said. “In the last 10 years there has been resurgence of retro, everyone is looking for vintage everything, so records were selling at a steady pace.”
In the future, Kurtz said he hopes record sales will remain strong in such a technologically progressive world.
“What we’ve done is we’ve given record stores more confidence to do what they do and a lot of them are opening new stores and expanding,” he said. “All of these stores have now increased their business by not only doing the special event but just being better business people, in this new environment where everything is a combination of online and physical.”