Friday, February 1, 2008

Celebrate Record Store Day- April 19th, 2008

by Robert Benson

When Neilsen Soundscan releases their sales data regarding vinyl records, did you know that they do not count hundreds of ‘indie’ vinyl record shops in their totals? So when you read ‘vinyl sales have risen….such and such a percentage,’ that these numbers woefully underestimate the true sales of vinyl.

But local independent and national record stores want to be counted and included in the vinyl sales figures because it is at these smaller record stores where vinyl records are selling the best.

So to help bring attention to this dilemma and to help celebrate the record store culture, hundreds of independently owned music stores across the country will celebrate the first annual “Record Store Day” on April 19th.

I spoke with Eric Levin, who owns Criminal Records ( a independent record store in Atlanta about the concept and celebratory plans of Record Store Day.

“We came up with the concept at the annual Noise in the Basement convention in Baltimore, a gathering of independent record stores hosted by the Music Monitor Network ( It is similar to “Free Comic Book Day (, in that we decided to help bring attention to our stores by saying- we are out here, enjoy what we have to offer,” said Eric. “So on this day, all of the stores that choose to participate will simultaneously link together and act as one with the purpose of celebrating the culture and unique place that they occupy both in their local communities and nationally.”

“We have over 200 independent record stores that have signed up for the event, with more signing on each day. Each store will be doing something different to celebrate Record Store Day. Some stores may opt to have an ‘in store’ performance, special sale events, demonstrations, dances, swap meets or ‘an afternoon at a record store’ promotion as well as provide a ‘goodie bag’ that promotes new formats, new releases and exciting information about music, theatrical and gaming releases. Everything that makes an indie store unique should be on display,” related Eric.

Music stores have been part of our culture for decades and it is important to note that, while there may not be as many of them as there used to be, there are still those unique music shops that continue to thrive and are still part of our local and national music culture.

In fact, many music related entities have signed on to be part of Record Store Day as Eric explains:

“We have many groups involved including the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (, the Alliance of Independent Media Stores (, Newbury Comics ( & The Music Monitor Network (,where one can find links to some of the best indie record shops around the country; with many more organizations signing up each day.”

“In fact, all indie record stores are invited to participate by making April 19th, 2008 a day of celebration at their place of business. Some music labels are getting involved as well by releasing special editions marking the day and the celebration of the music and the record store,” said Eric.

Moreover, many famous musicians are chiming in and doing their best to, not only promote Record Store Day, but the culture that encompasses it. Here are a few quotes:

Paul McCartney - “There’s nothing as glamorous to me as a record store. When I recently played Amoeba in LA, I realised what fantastic memories such a collection of music brings back when you see it all in one place. This is why I’m more than happy to support Record Store Day and I hope that these kinds of stores will be there for us all for many years to come. Cheers!"

Norah Jones - “It’s important to keep indie record stores alive because their unique environments introduce music lovers to things in a very personal way.”

John Doe - “The physical act of picking up a recording (CD, vinyl, cassette), checking it out, finding something unavailable, etc.; is an experience you will NEVER get online. And now it's becoming common knowledge that CDs have more digital information than most files, so they sound better. A great or even good record store is like no other."

Chuck Berry - "Music is an important part of our culture and record stores play a vital part in keeping the power of music alive."

Joan Jett - “The indie record stores are the backbone of the recorded music culture. It's where we go to network, browse around, and find new songs to love. The stores whose owners and staff live for music have spread the word about exciting new things faster and with more essence than either radio or the press. Any artist that doesn't support the wonderful ma and pa record stores across America is contributing to our own extinction.”

Ziggy Marley - "Record stores keep the human social contact alive it brings people together. Without the independent record stores the community breaks down with everyone sitting in front of their computers"

Ben Watt (Everything But The Girl) - "It is hard to underestimate the role of independent retail in the music industry. As the world continues to try and cram every purchase they make onto their computer, turning music into binary digits and artwork into pixelated packshots, we can only sit and wait for them to wake up from their dream and realize that ultimately human interaction in shops, with informed good people, handling cherishable artefacts is good for the soul. In the meantime we need to support the people who keep this world alive for the moment we all realize we need it again."

Sam Phillips (A&R/producer for Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and many others) - “There would be no Elvis. There would be no Johnny Cash. There’d be no B.B King. There’d be no Roscoe Gordon. There’d be no Carl Perkins. There would be no Jerry Lee Lewis. There would be no Roy Orbison. I can just tell you. We owe all of that to the independents and the independent people that work so hard for us to have something that could be accepted through their efforts,hard work, and desire to keep a personal feeling in every record..”

Dean Wareham (Luna) - “We are drowning in a sea of Myspace, blather, and too much information. Music is everywhere and nowhere. The independent record store is the solution, a place staffed by friendly (or not) people who are actually paid to weed through this crap and help you find the good stuff.”

G. Love- “Independent record stores are where kids like me learned about the music that made them the musicians they are today. Independent record stores are about the love of records not the love of money!”

So as you have just read, the passion that these musicians have for the independent record shops is immeasurable. These are the professionals who know a little something about the music industry and embrace the concepts, culture and meaning of Record Store Day. Let’s make Record Store Day a national celebration of the independent record store, the musicians who love them and the historical culture that each individual store brings to each and every one of us.

This Day In Music History- Feb 1

Blind Lemon Jefferson makes his first recordings in 1925.

Don Everly was born in Brownie, Kentucky in 1937.

In 1958, Paul McCartney introduced George Harrison to the Quarrymen at a basement teen club called the Morgue. George joins the group and the rest is history.

In 1961, "Shop Around," by the Miracles, was Motown's first national hit, reaching Number Two on the Billboard chart and topping Billboard's hot R&B singles list for eight weeks.

Seventy-three million Americans tuned in to see the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

In 1965, James Brown recorded "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," a revolutionary single that ushers in a whole new era of soul music. Released that summer, it tops the R&B chart for eight weeks and even cracks the pop Top Ten.

The debut album 'Buffalo Springfield', containing 12 original songs, was released in 1967. First pressings omit "For What It's Worth," which is subsequently added to the album when it becomes a hit. "For What It's Worth," which reaches #7, and was Buffalo Springfield's only Top Forty hit.

In 1969, Tommy James and the Shondells' 'Crimson and Clover', a shorter version of the five-minute album-track, launched the new self-helmed Shondell’s sound. It tops the US charts and earns a gold disc, becoming the group's biggest US seller.

In 1971, founding member Jeremy Spencer leaves Fleetwood Mac and disappears with a Christian cult group while on tour in Los Angeles.

Sid Vicious, the Sex Pistols' bassist, is found dead in a Manhattan apartment of a heroin overdose in 1979.

In 1969, The Temptations won Motown its first Grammy for "Cloud Nine."

Ray Sawyer (Dr. Hook-"Cover Of Rolling Stone") turns 71.

Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio ("Tijuana Jail") is 74.

The late Rick James (the original "Super Freak") was born in 1952.

In 1968, Elvis Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie, was born (exactly 9 months to the day after the King marries Priscilla).

In 1964, the governor of Indiana asks the Indiana Broadcasters Association to ban "Louie Louie," claiming the Kingsmen's song is pornographic and makes his ears tingle. DJs claim that it's impossible to decipher the true lyrics in the allegedly smutty hit, but their ears tingle too.

Elvis Presley arranges for his daughter, Lisa Marie, to meet her favorite singer-- Elton John, for her seventh birthday in 1975.

In 2004, Janet Jackson inadvertently bares her breast when Justin Timberlake tugs at her costume during the Super Bowl half-time show in Houston, Texas. Other performers include Kid Rock, P. Diddy and Nelly, who did not bare their breasts.

In 2000, seventies hit-makers Abba turn down a billion-dollar offer to re-form. The band's songwriters say they don't need to make a comeback but could use the money.

Mike Campbell, guitarist for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, was born in Panama City, FL. in 1954.

Beatlemania comes to America in 1964 when "I Want To Hold Your Hand" becomes the first of twenty Billboard number one hits for The Beatles. It would stay on top for seven weeks, with world wide sales of fifteen million.

In 1979, Blondie's "Heart Of Glass" was certified platinum in the UK, where it tops the Pop chart. The song will also rise to number one in the US the following April.

The Cars, who had placed 15 songs on the Hot 100 between 1978 and 1987, announced their break up in 1988.