Inside Record Store Day UK's battle with the pandemic in 2020

Inside Record Store Day UK's battle with the pandemic in 2020

After Record Store Day’s final drop of 2020 gave the vinyl market a welcome boost, organiser Megan Page has appealed to record companies to line up a special selection for next year’s event.

Reflecting on the three-part Record Store Day 2020 in a new interview with Music Week, Page attributed a “substantial portion” of vinyl growth to RSDUK.

With a second lockdown due to start tomorrow (November 5) record shops will be shuttered once more, but Page has paid tribute to their resilience. Read on to find out how Record Store Day 2020 rolled with the punches and delivered some good news for retail and labels alike.

How did sales of the final RSD drop contribute to the overall market across the three days?

“We estimate that RSD sales were in the region of 45,000 to 50,000 units across the three days, though it is difficult to gauge due to the volume of independents selling through via mail order which are not tracked. Looking at the individual weeks, overall performance in the first drop showed vinyl album sales were 70,000 units up compared to the same week the previous year (+96%) and in the second drop vinyl sales were 40,000 units up compared to the same week in 2019 (+49%). While not all of these additional sales are down to RSD, it was responsible for a substantial proportion of the uplifts achieved in those weeks.”   

When you look at the overall results, how much bigger was RSD 2020 by splitting it across three dates?

“Splitting RSD over three days was never designed to increase sales, it was purely designed to spread those sales across three days to allow for safe operation of stores and social distancing. Overall, I think record stores are happy that we were still able to celebrate RSD at all this year, given the number of challenges and setbacks that the pandemic posed. By being able to do so it’s given indie shops more opportunities to engage with national media and local press, participate in exciting social media campaigns and connect with artist fanbases, which is all priceless exposure.”


The success of the drops is testament to just how brilliant indie stores are at adapting to change

Megan Page


How proud are you of what you pulled off? Would you have done anything differently?  

“We are immensely proud. When we made the call back in March we really had no idea what the world was going to throw at us next. But looking back, I still don’t think we would have done anything differently. The success of the drops is also testament to just how brilliant indie stores are at adapting to change. Within days, many had set up brand new online stores, introduced booking apps for appointments and coordinated kerbside pick-ups and same day local deliveries. The RSD drops just wouldn’t have been possible without their resilience and adaptability.” 

Just how important was online this year?

“Of course it was very important, given the fact that it was not possible to get the same numbers of people through stores safely, some shops were not open and many customers felt unsafe going to shops. Clearly, for those reasons, online was incredibly successful this year, but RSD itself is a celebration of record shop culture and is still designed to be experienced in-store. Shops will now have to carefully consider how they want to operate going forwards and this will inform any decisions on RSD 2021.”  

Is there any scope for multiple RSDs when the pandemic – hopefully – subsides?

“Whilst the drops have been very successful, let’s not forget that there are already a number of very successful indie and vinyl campaigns that run throughout the year including the promotion of the weekly indie exclusives, Dinked releases, RSD Black Friday and Love Record Stores. I think we need to be careful not to overload the customer and to maintain the exclusive feel of RSD. Our intention as it stands is to return to one day in 2021 – Covid allowing!”


RSD itself is a celebration of record shop culture and is still designed to be experienced in-store

Megan Page


Any idea what was the most popular item this year?  

“Lots of titles sold out very quickly indeed (though it is of course often hard to indicate what was most popular, as they are made in small runs). Anecdotally, some quick sellers and sought after titles this year include Robyn’s Robyn, Tyler the Creator’s Cherry Bomb and of course the usual David Bowie fan favourites.”

What's your message to the music industry about next year's event?  

“We are, as ever, very happy with the support from labels and grateful for the time, effort and planning that goes into creating such special titles. We do know that there’s already some pressure at the record plants as they catch up with the backlog of rescheduled 2020 album releases, so our main ask from labels is to concentrate on fewer titles that are really special, compelling and creative releases that will be very much sought-after on the April 2021 list.”

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