This Saturday, April 16th, music fans all over the country will descend upon their favorite local independent shops for the fourth annual Record Store Day. This year’s list of new releases is staggering, and everyone’s list of must-haves will differ. Mine? A 7″ of Built to Spill covering “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead, the 45rpm 180-gram 2xLP reissue of Rumours, the Guided By Voices tribute LP featuring, among others, Lou Barlow, Blitzen Trapper and Thurston Moore, the reissue of Superchunk’s stupidly underrated Here’s Where the Strings Come In, the Fleet Foxes’ “Helplessness Blues” 12″ and, jeez, a whole lot more, actually. For the rest of the week, we’ll be talking to local record store owners about what RSD means to their business, and about how you can make the most of it. Today, we kick things off with James Bradley, owner of Sound Fix in Williamsburg.
A lot has been made this year about there being too many releases, and how it actually winds up hurting the people who buy records most, in that for a number of the releases, if they don’t buy them right away, they’ll be gone forever. Do you think there’s any validity to that argument?
James Bradley: Not really. The point of RSD is to generate interest in getting people to physical record stores, and it works, at least for Sound Fix. That said, they could press a few more. For many titles, we sell out within minutes of opening.
Last year was the first time they added a second day, on Black Friday. Was that a success as well, and would you be happy with more RSDs throughout the year?
James: The impact was modest. They tried two years ago to create one RSD a month, and it flopped. Unless you’ve got some pretty spectacular stuff to offer, it’s hard to get people interested in this often.
Forgive me if this is out of line, but would you be willing to comment, in terms of percentages for an average Saturday in the store, what effect Record Store Day has on your sales?
James: If I had to rank the best-selling days in Sound Fix’s history, it would be: (1) RSD 2010; (2) RSD 2009; (3) RSD 2008. So yes, these days have been a financial bonanza for us.
Were there any releases you weren’t able to get in the store that you were hoping to?
James: Those White Stripes 7-inches. All the Jack White nerds are going to punish me for this one.
Do you have any advice for people heading out to the store on Saturday?
James: Well, if you really, really want something, get here by 10:00 or so and get online. Try not to trample over the owner after he opens the door. Other than that, have fun.
Do you get the feeling that, despite the pledge stores were asked to sign this year, a lot of stores are guilty of holding back releases and selling them on eBay?
James: I’m not prepared to indict anyone since I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of this stuff going on, though I certainly imagine it does. For me, it makes little sense. Many customers buy several things on RSD, so if you don’t have that Flaming Lips LP they came looking for, they go elsewhere. You did more than cost yourself one sale, you cost yourself many.
Do you have anything else going on in the store on Saturday?
James: Yes, we have the wonderful Damon & Naomi performing at 7pm. We will also start the day be serving coffee and croissants, courtesy of our friends at Ella Cafe.
Is there one particular release you’re most excited about this year?
James: I think Ty Segall is one of the best young rockers around, and his LP of T. Rex covers looks terrific. Also, we have a Pink Floyd Live in London LP from the Syd Barrett days. But all I can do is watch in anguish as my customers buy every copy.
Which release do you think will be the most sought after?
James: Hard to say. The Sonic Youth Whores Moaning record (repress of New Zealand/Australia tour EP from 93) should be a big seller. The Fleet Foxes 12-inch should fly off the shelves too. RSD is more about the totality of the releases rather than a few big titles. Right now I am just praying for good weather.