As 2020 drags on and the music business continues to come to terms with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the industry is regularly reminded of all that it’s missing out on.
Well, this weekend, Record Store Day resurfaces after what you might mildly describe as a bumpy year. First came the initial date change, from the original April 18 slot to June 20. Then, when that proved impossible, plans for a staggered event were revealed.
The first of three ‘Drop Dates’ arrives this Saturday, August 29, with two more to follow on September 26 and October 24. Pink Floyd, The Cure and The Kinks to Christine And The Queens, J Hus and The Big Moon are among the acts releasing limited records.
Now that the first date has rolled around, retailers are back open, ERA exec and Record Store Day UK coordinator Megan Page tells Music Week that things are gradually picking up.
In a new Q&A to mark this weekend’s event, she looks ahead to the future of vinyl and physical retail more widely. Rest assured, there are reasons to be cheerful…
How have retailers done since reopening?
“They are certainly getting back on their feet and enjoying being back open to the public. They’ve been creative, resourceful and adapted well to a new way of welcoming people into their stores. As more and more shops have opened over the last four or five weeks we’ve seen a real jump in vinyl sales and numbers are looking very healthy. Weekly sales since shops opened have been up on average between 30-60% and year to date vinyl album sales are only 1% down on last year which considering shops were closed for almost three months just goes to prove how resilient vinyl sales and independent retailers are.”
There is a real excitement and buzz in the air now the day is getting closer
After all the changes caused by Covid, has everything gone to plan for the first RSD drop?
“So far, so good. Shops have put a lot of time and effort into ensuring they are equipped to deal with social distancing in-store and preparing for what will inevitably be a busy day. The majority of shops hosting appointment services are seeing their bookings fill up quickly which is a great sign and bodes well for the day. There is a real excitement and buzz in the air now the day is getting closer. Of course, this is completely different to normal RSDs as we are all fully respecting social distancing rules but I think that having had nearly six months of no music events in the country, people are genuinely looking forward to taking part in a shared celebration, even if it is more subdued than we have come to expect.”
What are your hopes in terms of the sales impact?
“Love Record Stores and the RSD Fill The Gap campaign in April were both great examples of the fact that there is still huge appetite from the record buying public for new releases and supporting local stores. Since shops have been open on the 15th June vinyl sales have continued to grow. There is no doubt that both events boosted vinyl sales but the weekly performance of vinyl since both events has been equally strong. We fully hope that by the time the Record Store Day Drops have taken place that we will have bridged the year to date minus 1% sales gap and given another boost to the independent record shops.”
This is going to be unlike any RSD event we’ve held before
Will this still be focused online? How have stores changed to a more online service?
“There is no one size fits all for RSD opening so stores are operating in different ways. However, the vast majority of shops are coordinating socially distanced queues and/or bookable time slots during day so it's not really an online event. Global online sales won’t be starting until later at 6pm on the day of each Drop, so for those shops who can open safely there is still a focus on over the counter sales.”
Are there any events going ahead this weekend?
“Not this year! This is going to be unlike any RSD event we’ve held before as the gatherings, parties and performances will all be on hold. Shops will be focussing on getting customers the records they want in the safest and most efficient way possible. We’ll just have to make sure we throw an even bigger party next year to make up for our (unlucky) 13th year!”