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Record Store Day 2018: A Modern Vinyl Tradition

Ellen Levitt

Posted on April 22, 2018 20:45

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This year's edition of Record Store Day was like its predecessors, complete with enthusiastic buyers, eager stores, and media hype.

Record Store Day 2018, held this year on Saturday, April 21st, brought together hundreds of independent record shops, enthusiastic (and often obsessive) consumers, media coverage and lots of music. This annual event, meant to drum up business for the smaller recorded music stores around the United States and in other countries, was begun in 2008 and has been a considerable boost to the industry. To gain attention and sales, one of the hallmarks of Record Store Day has been offering special, limited edition and alternative music released and sold on this day.

Among the most hailed record releases this year were special re-releases and bonus track releases of records by Prince, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Ella Fitzgerald, Flatbush Zombies and the Wu-Tang Clan. Although a majority of the releases are geared toward fans of rock 'n roll, hip hop and jazz are also prominent. In addition to recorded music, many shops featured in-store concerts, artist signings, special deals and more. Record companies offered up lots of swag such as posters and other freebies.

My family and I have been fans of Record Store Day since it began, and this year we experienced the frenetic fun in two New York cities. First we joined several music fans at Jack's Rhythms in New Paltz, a Hudson Valley town. We scoured through bins of special releases.Later in the day we made it to two East Village, Manhattan shops, A-1 Records and Academy LPs. Meanwhile my brother shopped at Clockwork Records in Hastings-on-Hudson, in Westchester. 

Perhaps we just came at quieter times in the day because the stores we patronized seemed calm, but two years ago in 2016 we experienced Record Store Day pandemonium at a few stores in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

Mobs of record buyers swarmed these shops and jostled each other for free posters and junk food, special-release 45s and expanded discount bins. At the celebrated Rough Trade Brooklyn, part of the small record store chain that began in London, crowds flocked to see live performances and some customers argued over who got dibs on the last copy of a rare psychedelic band album. 

In 2017 we visited the Brooklyn outlet of Norton Records, known for its roots-rock and garage rock musical specialties. I bought a limited-edition 10" record of songs by the 1960s band the Pretty Things and some used 45s. At the time their store was located on Washington Avenue but they have since relocated to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

Record Store Day 2018 was also celebrated in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia and eight European countries. Social media showed people and their purchases, performers and individual stores, many of which also held special contests for the occasion. Even some non-music corporations such as Doc Martens got involved in the promotions for the day. 

Music can be found for free online, it's true. But there are still many music lovers out there who crave the vinyl. 

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on April 22, 2018 20:45

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