ERA's Kim Bayley: 'No Record Store Day this weekend - but let's still celebrate indie retail'

ERA's Kim Bayley: 'No Record Store Day this weekend - but let's still celebrate indie retail'

The coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement of the 13th edition of Record Store Day, which should have happened on Saturday, April 18. But there are still campaigns to show support for indie retailers who are selling physical music via mail order during the lockdown.

Here, Entertainment Retailers Association CEO Kim Bayley says it’s still a day to celebrate the independent record shop…

Today by rights we should be bemoaning the postponement of Record Store Day, the 13th edition of which was due to take place this very day.

“Instead the 240 participating shops which would have been thronged with thousands of music fans are dark, shuttered, empty because of the coronavirus lockdown.

“Whatever form Record Store Day 2020 may take, it’s unlikely to be the huge social occasion people have come to expect.

“And yet, despite it all, I am increasingly convinced that the response of indie record shops to the coronavirus – and the response of music fans to the plight of record stores during coronavirus – demonstrates that, far from facing extinction, the best independents face a bright future indeed.

“Indies are a stubborn breed. That’s why so many of them were derided as Luddites when the internet first came along. And it is true that over the years they have opposed all kinds of innovations from the rise of chain stores (Our Price, Virgin, HMV) to the entry of supermarkets into the music market.

“But that cussedness has served them well. They simply won’t back down. It’s the reason why they outlived Our Price and Virgin and it’s the reason why in the midst of what looked like a fatal decline, they swung behind Record Store Day and made it a success. 

The last few weeks give cause for optimism that indie record shops will be with us for a long time to come

Kim Bayley

“Twelve editions in and Record Store Day remains the most successful new promotion for music this century.

“It succeeded for numerous reasons, not least as an inevitable reaction from music fans to streaming. It turned out that no matter the convenience and choice of all-you-can-eat streaming services, people still wanted physical artifacts sold to them by real people in non-standard retail environments.

“To put it bluntly, the uniqueness and unpredictability and personality of the best indies cannot be replicated by a mere algorithm. 

“Which brings us back to Record Store Day 2020 and the real fears that the postponement of this year’s event could lead to the wiping out of all the gains of these past 13 years. Don’t forget that for many shops Record Store Day is even bigger for business than Christmas.

“No wonder many predicted a bloodbath.

“But something strange and wonderful is happening.

“A bit like that scene in It’s a Wonderful Life when George Bailey has lost all hope and the whole town turns out to remind him how he changed their lives for the better, there was a huge outpouring of love and affection for the indie sector under the hashtag #loverecordstores

“And all the more remarkable, that sector long derided as Luddite, supposedly the sworn enemy of all things digital turned out to be a master of social media. 

“From #isolationvinyl to #rsdfillthegap, from online quizzes to #asotd (that’s Album Sleeve Of The Day), from album giveaways to donations for the NHS, indie record shops have pulled out all the stops to show themselves to be some of the most social media savvy in the music industry right now, offering endless reasons why we should all #loverecordstores.

“No doubt some stores will not make it through the coronavirus crisis. That’s bad news for those record shops and it’s bad news for music and music lovers.

“But the last few weeks give cause for optimism that indie record shops will be with us for a long time to come.

“Just two weeks ago, many across the music retail sector were sad to hear of the loss to cancer of Paul Quirk, a life-long indie and stalwart of Record Store Day. Like most indies, he wasn’t short of opinions.

"He, like all of us, would have been disappointed to hear of the postponement of Record Store Day. But wherever he is, I am sure he will join me in raising a glass to the cussedness, the resilience and the determination of the independent record shop.

“Happy Record Store Day.”

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