There’s a new plan for Record Store Day.
Here, in a bonus Q&A, Page takes us inside the plan to make sure RSD 2020 gives indie retail a much-needed boost from this year’s line-up of 570 vinyl releases, which are pressed and ready for distribution…
What’s the thinking behind the three drop dates for Record Store Day later this year?
“It's just trying to keep it in bite-sized chunks, which makes it manageable for everyone. In four to eight months’ time, we just don't really know what the world is going look like, if we’re still going to have staff off sick or people being furloughed. So, keeping it small and often seemed like the sensible route to go down.”
Did you consult widely with retailers?
“The decision was made in consultation with pretty much every single person and every country involved in Record Store Day. This is led by the global Record Store Day coordinators in the US. But we've also discussed it at length and agreed it with the ERA independent board, we’ve polled the ERA membership, we’ve liaised with the contributing record labels and distributors to try and find what is the most workable solution. I think there's an agreement that it's not perfect, and there's not an ideal solution that suits absolutely everyone. But we've had to find the solution that we think causes the least amount of damage and supports the most amount of people who are involved in it globally.”
How will you ensure social distancing is observed during what can be a busy retail event?
“ERA will start working on guidelines to reflect the [official government advice] in record stores. The difficulty is we’re still four months away and so much can change during that time. But if stores are open and there are government issued guidelines in place, then these will be followed and Record Store Day will put measures in place to ensure that all customers and all staff are kept safe. We've also relaxed the online selling rules, too, so this year shops can sell Record Store Day product online from 6pm on the evening of each of those drop dates. That should alleviate quite a lot of the concerns about big crowds turning up and doing the normal queuing from the early hours.”
Record Store Day will put measures in place to ensure that all customers and all staff are kept safe
Is the line-up of releases set to remain on those dates?
“We expect nearly all of the releases planned in April to stay the same. They will be allocated release dates on one of those three drop dates. We have to be realistic and understand that there will be some financial impact for a handful of smaller labels – holding on to stock until Q4 might be too much of a risk for them. Where this is the case, we are working with them to see if we can release it as an indie exclusive earlier on in the year. So, while a few might drop off, hopefully we might see the introduction of some more titles, under the Record Store Day umbrella.”
Despite all the problems, are you confident about this year’s line-up of titles?
“There are some really strong titles that a lot of people are looking forward to. You’ve got artists like Biffy Clyro, My Chemical Romance, Bastille, The Charlatans, David Bowie, Elton John. There are real superstar artists that are supporting the event, and are working with us to work through this new timeline and do whatever they can to support the independent sector. That's one of the things that we've been blown away with over the last few months, just how much support there is out there for the independent sector and how strongly they all feel about making sure that we are doing all we can as an industry to help keep [record stores] afloat.”
Can indie retail still expect a boost from this year’s revised RSD?
“We worked with BBC 6 Music to launch RSD Fill The Gap on what would have been Record Store Day weekend [in April]. That was effectively a campaign to remind people that their local shops are still delivering online and that they could pledge to buy one record on what would have been Record Store Day. We were all blown away by the support and appetite from music fans and how many of them actually took part. Some shops reported that they had their busiest online sales day ever. So if we can replicate that level of support, as well as having some great releases there to back it up, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be a really good, positive sales day for everyone.
“We are sad that we're not going to be able to encourage all those huge gatherings and instore parties. This is one year in which we're going to have to reflect what's going on in the rest of the world. Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal by next year.”
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