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Record Store Day 2023: Music Fans Flock to Independent Stores for Exclusive Releases

Customers peruse the extensive vinyl collection at Newbury Comics in Cambridge on Record Store Day, April 22nd.
Customers peruse the extensive vinyl collection at Newbury Comics in Cambridge on Record Store Day, April 22nd. By Courtesy of Hannah Adler
By Rachel A. Beard, Crimson Staff Writer

Record Store Day, held this year on April 22, is a celebration of the rich culture and history of independently owned record stores. Since its first installment in 2008, this event has united vinyl enthusiasts, musicians, and local communities in support of the unique culture surrounding vinyl records and their stores. It's a day that brings passionate music lovers together, while also helping independent record stores stay afloat in an age where digital music streaming dominates. One of the main attractions of Record Store Day is the exclusive releases that are only available at participating independent record stores, often in limited quantities. Attendees of Record Store Day will wait in line for hours just to get their hands on these exclusive records.

Record Store Day was founded by a group of independent record store owners who were inspired by the camaraderie and support they witnessed at a gathering of independent record store owners in Baltimore, Maryland. They decided to create an event that would not only celebrate the distinctive culture of record stores but also encourage music lovers to support their local independent shops.

Over the years, Record Store Day has grown exponentially, becoming a global phenomenon with thousands of stores participating in countries across the world. This event has proven to be a financial boon for independent record stores and a boost for vinyl sales. Record Store Day also offers exclusive releases, limited edition pressings, and rare reissues, providing collectors and enthusiasts with the opportunity to expand their collections.

Record Store Day has played an instrumental role in the ongoing vinyl revival. With the digital age and the rise of streaming services, vinyl records have experienced a resurgence in popularity as collectors and audiophiles alike rediscover the tactile, tangible, and immersive experience of vinyl. Record Store Day has become a driving force in supporting this growing interest, helping to ensure that vinyl records continue to thrive as a cherished music format. Collectors come out in troves to support their favorite record stores and artists.

“I just really liked that it gave me like a different way to listen to music rather than just streaming.

I felt like listening to vinyl, I could hear things that I couldn't hear as clearly in terms of production and it just sounded so much better,” Lauren Dipreta, a fan and vinyl collector said.

“I'm excited to support Phil who owns this record store [Tres Gatos] and to support some of my favorite artists by buying their exclusive releases,” Michelle Ray, a patron of Tres Gatos, said.

The exclusive records, including Taylor Swift, The 1975, Blur, and Madonna, associated with Record Store Day are another big draw for fans and collectors. Music lovers, such as Dipreta and Savannah Smith, even lined up at 4 a.m. to get their exclusive releases.

“I'm personally waiting for the Taylor Swift and The 1975 exclusive releases. They're both pretty limited releases, but I knew this store only had four copies of The1975 record, and I've been a fan of that band for 10 years,” Dipreta said.

“I'm only really here for the Taylor Swift vinyl. I am extremely new to collecting, I’m not in any kind of community. I'm like, you know what? Might as well start. I have a bunch of vinyls already so why not. I've been a fan of Taylor Swift since she started out,” Smith said.

Record Store Day attracts music fans of all ages and backgrounds. Parents will bring their kids to the event to get them exclusive releases and immerse them into the culture of vinyl-collecting. One such parent, Ty Velde, accompanied his daughter early in the morning so she can get her exclusive release.

“My daughter's a huge Taylor Swift fan and she wants the exclusive release,” Velde said. “It reminds me of when I used to camp out for concert tickets back in the day.”

Record Store Day and the act of camping out for these exclusive releases help to foster a community among collectors, newbies, and owners alike. Store owners on Record Day talked about the community they watch form in front of their eyes.

“I know all of [these people], but they don't know each other. And I've seen people become friends in the line. This actually sounds corny, but there have been people who were in relationships who met in the line for [Record Store Day],” said Phil Wilcox, manager of Tres Gatos.

“I think it helps get people interested in buying records, people that aren't already interested. So I think it certainly has brought some people into the hobby that might not have been aware of it before,” said Chris Andries, co-owner of Armageddon Shop.

Record Store Day is a big support for independent stores.

“I think for us and for every indie record store, this is like the tenfold that holds us up. This and December holiday shopping kind of allows us to survive the rest of the year,” Wilcox shared.

The enduring impact of this annual event is evident in the thriving independent record store community, the ongoing vinyl revival, and the passionate music fans who continue to cherish the unique experience that vinyl offers.

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