Record Store Day is an annual event inaugurated in 2007 and held on one Saturday every April to "celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store". The day brings together fans, artists, and thousands of independent record stores across the world. A number of records are pressed specifically for Record Store Day, with a unique list of releases for each country, and are only distributed to shops participating in the event. The event began in the United States and remains headquartered there. Record Store Day has official international organizers in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Australia, and Spain.
Sparked by an e-mail by Bull Moose employee Chris Brown that something could be done along the lines of Free Comic Book Day, and with inspiration from a brainstorming session during a record store owners' meeting in Baltimore, Record Store Day was officially founded in 2007 by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner, and is now celebrated at stores across the world, with hundreds of recording and other artists participating in the day by making special appearances, performances, meet and greets with their fans, the holding of art exhibits, and the issuing of special vinyl and CD releases along with other promotional products to mark the occasion.
Each store holds their own party for the day, to celebrate the perceived individuality of each store, and the place it holds in its community. Although Record Store Day, the day, only occurs once a year, Record Store Day, the organization, provides promotions, marketing, and other opportunities for stores throughout the year, maintaining a website, social media and other means of promulgating its views about the value of independent record stores. Record Store Day is managed on a day-to-day basis by the Dept. of Record Stores, along with the Coalition of Independent Music Stores and the Alliance of Independent Media Stores.
Universal Music's sales manager, Marc Fayd’Herbe, has described Record Store Day as "the single best thing that has ever happened" for independent record shops. The 2013 event was credited with the highest U.S. vinyl sales, and the 2014 edition resulted in independent retailers recording the highest percentage of physical album sales, since the SoundScan system was introduced in 1991. In their 2015 Libera awards, the American Association of Independent Music awarded Record Store Day its "Marketplace Ally" award. Record Store Day 2016 produced the biggest week of sales for the vinyl LP format since the introduction of SoundScan.
The event has been criticised for catering to record collectors, rather than casual music fans, and delaying the release of non-affiliated records by monopolising the capacity of record pressing plants. Major labels have been accused of hijacking the event, and the policy of shops being obliged to buy on a no-return basis has been criticised, along with many of the limited releases being re-sold online within hours, at inflated prices.
Metallica officially kicked off the event at Rasputin Music in Mountain View, California, on April 19, 2008. There were approximately 10 special Record Store Day releases in the first year, including releases by Death Cab For Cutie, R.E.M., Stephen Malkmus, Vampire Weekend, The Teenagers, Black Kids, and Jason Mraz. Approximately 300 stores launched Record Store Day in the United States, including Waterloo Records (Austin, Texas), School Kids Records (Research Triangle, North Carolina), and Vintage Vinyl (Evanston, Illinois).
English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg met Record Store Day co-founder Michael Kurtz in an airport and agreed to help kick off Record Store Day in the United Kingdom with a special live appearance. The first organized involvement by UK stores included Piccadilly Records (Manchester), Jumbo Records (Leeds), Resident (Brighton), Sister Ray (London), Rough Trade (London), Rapture (Witney), Spillers (Cardiff, Wales), and Avalanche Records (Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland).
The second annual Record Store Day was celebrated on Saturday, April 18, 2009 with approximately 85 special releases and appearances by the likes of Slayer, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Iron & Wine, The Stooges, MC5, Wilco, Disturbed, Killswitch Engage, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, The Eagles of Death Metal. The total number of artist appearances in the US was approximately 500. Wilco's Jeff Tweedy announced that "there would be no Wilco if it weren't for independent record stores" and the band made a surprise appearance on Record Store Day @ the Disc Exchange in Knoxville, TN. Eagles of Death Metal's Jesse Hughes announced that he was the official "Ambassador of Record Store Day" and the band made an appearance at Rhino Records. Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced that the City of New York officially recognized Record Store Day as a citywide event and the judges on American Idol talked about their favorite records in honor of Record Store Day in the episode of American Idol prior to the event. Even though 95% of the special releases made for Record Store Day were for the USA, the event began to grow internationally with over 1,000 record stores in the US, the UK, Ireland, Japan, Canada, Italy, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and Germany all participated in the international event.
The third annual Record Store Day took place on Saturday, April 17, 2010. The official ambassador for the event was Joshua Homme. The official book of the event was "Last Shop Standing: Whatever Happened to Record Shops by Graham Jones". KCRW's Gary Calamar and Phil Gallo also released their own self-published book, "Record Store Days", which talks about independent record stores, with artist quotes provided by www.recordstoreday.com used throughout the book, and a specific chapter devoted to Record Store Day. NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and New York City once again honored the day. Anything Anything with Rich Russo released a vinyl album of local bands performing on his radio show as well as doing a bus tour visiting numerous New York and New Jersey record stores. Several artists made in-store appearances to mark the event:The Smashing Pumpkins announced that they would kick off the tour promoting their new album with a special Record Store Day concert at Amoeba in Hollywood, CA. Other artists to announce special appearances included Frank Black, Exene Cervenka, Angie Stone, Jason Derulo, Alice in Chains, Mastodon, Josh Ritter, HIM, Slash, Sick Puppies, Care Bears on Fire, and Emmylou Harris. The year's event was also celebrated by giving young artists an opportunity to showcase their talent in the form of a national "Record Store Day: High School Battle of the Bands". Local, participating independent record stores nominated one local high school band by picking a cut from the band's supplied recording and entered their name and song cut into the contest. A panel of record executives and members from the Fender Corporation judged the entrants. Nine national semi-finalists were chosen to appear on a limited edition, compilation vinyl LP of their winning songs. Pressed by Gotta Groove, the LP features digital convenience. On the day of the event, it was announced that the grand prize winning band was SANUK, an indie band of HS students from Indianapolis, Indiana. They received a generous prize package of musical gear from the Fender Corporation and recording time with recording greats - Jack Ponti and Kevin "The Caveman" Shirley. SANUK was championed by their local record store, Indy CD & Vinyl. The sponsors of the contest were Caroline Distribution and EMI Label Services, Fender, and Fender Music Foundation. Aside from the Band Battle contest, many participating record stores had a line-up of live talent performing throughout the day. In 2010, more than 1,400 independent record stores participated in the unofficial holiday. More than 1,000 were from the US alone. Record stores saw a 41% increase in sales over the previous year's celebration, and a 109% increase over the previous Saturday's sales. By this time, the event had become such a nationally recognized event, that in the U.S., it was even referenced on "Saturday Night Live." During the year, the first Black Friday Record Store Day was also held, on November 26, 2010.
The fourth annual record store day took place on Saturday, April 16, 2011. The official ambassador for the event was Ozzy Osbourne. Over six-hundred artists celebrated the event with in-store appearances, making it the world's largest music event of its kind. Artists who made in-store appearances included Beastie Boys, the Foo Fighters, Duran Duran, My Chemical Romance, Wiz Khalifa, Todd Rundgren, Anvil, Del McCoury and the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Regina Spektor, Jack White and Jerry Lee Lewis, the dBs, The Raveonettes, TV on the Radio, Frightened Rabbit, the Deftones, Chuck D, the Beach Boys' Al Jardine, Lonely Island, and Josh Groban. Most of the releases for the year were limited between 300 and 7000 copies worldwide. According to Billboard Magazine, the 182,000 bump in unit sales in the week that Record Store Day was held was directly attributed to the success of the event itself. The official film of the event was "Sound It Out", a feature-length documentary directed by Jeanie Finlay, documenting the Sound It Out Records shop in Stockton-on-Tees, the very last record shop in Teesside. The film premiered to critical acclaim at SxSW and had its joint premiere at SheffDocFest and the Edinburgh International Film Festival. During the year, the second Black Friday Record Store Day was also held, on November 25, 2011.
The fifth annual Record Store Day took place on Saturday, April 21, 2012. The official ambassador for the event was Iggy Pop. Over 400 different releases were made for the day. To coincide with Record Store Day 2012, the UK's Official Chart Company launched the Official Record Store Chart, a weekly music chart based solely on sales from independent record shops. The chart was first issued on 20 April 2012, the eve of Record Store Day 2012.
Ahead of the 2013 edition, held on April 20, Record Store Day co-founder Michael Kurtz was awarded a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, on behalf of RSD participants, by the French government. The official ambassador was Jack White of White Stripes fame and founder of Third Man Records. The White Stripes album Elephant was reissued in a limited edition 10th anniversary double LP, consisting of one black-and-red colored disc and one white disc, the band's signature tri-color scheme.
Boards of Canada used RSD 2013 to launch a viral marketing campaign for their much anticipated album, Tomorrow's Harvest, when a new vinyl record by the band was placed in a New York City record store for purchase. The record allegedly sold on eBay for $5,700 but the buyer ended up being a fraud. It was later sold in a closed auction for an undisclosed sum.
Record Store Day 2014 was held on April 19, 2014. The ambassador for this year was Chuck D. Exclusive releases in the UK included Little Richard, and Coldplay, and in the US, Chvrches, Soundgarden, Joan Jett, The Yardbirds, Tears For Fears, and Cage the Elephant.
Record Store Day 2015 was held on April 18, 2015. The ambassador for this event was Dave Grohl. Exclusive releases in the UK included Neal Hefti and Phil Collins; and in the US, Echosmith, The White Stripes, The Bee Gees, Foo Fighters, Buzzcocks, and In This Moment.
Record Store Day 2016 took place on April 16. Exclusive releases included albums by David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Madonna, Gerard Way, Patti Smith, Deftones, Frank Zappa, and the Doors. Having kicked off the first Record Store Day with an in-store appearance, Metallica served as ambassador for the first time this year, marking the occasion with an album recorded live at the Bataclan in Paris, with all money raised going to victims of the terrorist attack at the venue the previous November. The band also reissued their first two albums, Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning, to coincide with the event.
Record Store Day 2017 took place on Saturday, April 22. The ambassador for the event was St. Vincent, making her the Day's first female ambassador. It was the tenth celebration of independent record stores. In a rare occurrence, the special releases in the United States included a classical title: a 1967 recording of Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 2 published by Warner Classics, pressed in the style of a Soviet Roentgenizdat.