Radically Resetting Record Store Day
Remember Record Store Day?It was barely a month ago gone and so now the dust has long settled, the bunting is down and the hype machine has moved on.I was there at the end, and at the afterparty where boxes of 7 inches and more were turned into a flowing sea of happy feet and faces at The Tiger.Tom suggested taking the tips and insights he gave and revisiting matters in a couple weeks before interest was gone.Trouble was, interest was already gone, internationally, before the last wax had been spinned and bar tab settled in Camberwell. There was less than no point to say anything, cynically.I've been searching for inspiration ever since.And now I realise this is the same problem infesting Record Store Day itself.On the day more records were sold and groovy people came through the sacred door of Rat than any other time in the year.However, Record Store Day was the reason but not the result in terms of what people really wanted and asked after.Less than 5% of punters asked about the releases made available for the Day Rat could hardly get if we wanted, and are of little relevance to customers. No-one told we did not have them went away unhappy.Missing out on a repro Adam Ant 7 inch is less cause for tears than facing a flaccid fart on 436 bus.The marketing jive provided was low grade, intern Xeroxed stuff. A logo so shoddy it looks like every D-grade music festival 'featuring' Bonnie Tyler from Swindon to Swansea, and some stickers.It seemed like the UK variant of the Day was run by a couple bored rich kids in a basement.The UK is one of the largest music markets in the world.If the masters of RSD had not lost interest, much less inspiration, in the UK, they would have staffed it up hard.We approached the media to share our not at all negative but not hype infested take on it all, and get more people to feel the Rat Magic. The response was more lukewarm than microwaved cat vomit.Major music journos, not anonymous nothings like me, shrugged.They dug Rat, They felt the blood truth of vinyl. But they had heard more than enough from, and about, Record Store Day. Perhaps permanently.What is it, really? Some criminally priced special releases of stuff not quite special enough to merit their own release window. Really find a lost David Bowie radio show from 1973? Why lose the lucre and the attention in the fog? Increased footfall in the already hot likes of Rough Trade. Yawn. Whatevs. Etc.There were only 55 pieces of media coverage in the UK for RSD.Most credible stuff was around the shop worn Foo Fighters coming out with some kind of documentary I cannot be arsed to watch.I'll give a clue to my not so secret identity by revealing I have spent almost all my miserable adult 'life' in marketing and advertising.Before you quote Bill Hicks and encourage me to act on many justified suicidal urges remember that the first scrawls of the written word beyond rude money owed accounting shit was pimping one wine or olive oil over another. In Pompeii the prostitutes had logos on their sandals that had the Latin for 'Follow me for Sexy Sexy Time' on the bottoms to brand the street strewn dog and horse dung ensuring horny punters came along.And anyone in my trade will tell you in its current form RSD is as played out as 'Car Wash' at a fucking wedding reception you're only at out of dumb social duty.It will either stay as it is, or decline slowly. There is too much Major label interest for it fizzle out altogether but the media and the beardy zeitgeist have left the building.What is a way forward? Three things.Some of them are dead tacky but we need to sacrifice some cool to keep alive. Start with Richer Sounds and CD on wax Reissues then end up at Rat. I know I did. Evolution is possible.1: Hardware and bringing more shops - not just record shops, into it. We need more than the major labels and even the 'independents' shilling records not special enough to stand on their own, but a gateway drug of fucking hardware. Sony. Marantz. Rega. Panasonic. Innovators like U-Turn Audio. Technics still exists in Japan, they just don't do decks. But the stuff to make 1200s did not end up in the bin - they just need a good reason to make them again. What could be a better reason than RSD? We need Amazon, Richer Sounds, Dixons, Argos, Tesco for fucks sake - not just record shops. We need vinyl starter kits with whatever Jack White sub-Stooges shite people want when they begin. Make the hardware mainstream, and some people will eventually find something decent to do with it.2: Bring Used out of the cold and into the heart of RSD. Again, this is a lifestyle choice. It's the ability to play the discs and have discs to play. Like so much of the analogue world, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Even if that giant is Uncle Saul's collection of New Wave LPs. There will always be more secondhand records than new pressings. Despite the noise, no-one is making new pressing machines or plants. Reissues are often digitally mastered if not just big, crude copies of CDs with surface noise.3: Have two, three or four a year. Make it a surprise! Loving records, music and choosing vinyl is part of what who people ARE and feel. You are not YOU just one day a year. Why not make it a real shock what hardware and software will come, when and why? Don't make it a dead day in the calendar, make it way of LIFE.Whatever happens, Rat will be Rat and be there.We are not a fashion, we are part of a religion.But those that control this need to take a step back, smell what they are shovelling and move on to something bigger, and deeper.That matters, and lasts.Or else in 2016 there will be 23 pieces of media coverage in the UK, more obscure and irrelevant than in the 15 with the "Electric Banana" marvelling at some Nirvana sideman act and fucking James Last repros.It's not a day, it's a choice to be great as a human being. A choice we take and love, every day.