Record Store Day co-ordinator Megan Page has told Music Week that the first installment of RSD UK 2020 “exceeded the majority of stores' expectations”.
After the original April 18 date was pushed back to June 20 due to Covid-19, it was elected that the revised 2020 edition would be split over three dates: August 29, September 26 and October 24.
The first RSD Drop took place on August 29 with more than 200 participating indie record shops. In a one-off move for 2020, indie record stores put remaining product online at 6pm – an official press release stated that “many releases sold out across the UK within the hour.”
Using OCC data, Music Week can confirm that despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19, Record Store Day saw week-on-week vinyl units soar, with total vinyl sales up 113% from 78,957 in week 35 to 167,890 in week 36.
Within this, total vinyl album sales increased by 85% (75,532 vs 139,886), while the total vinyl singles sales grew a staggering 718% (3,425 vs 28,004).
Between the limited capacity of stores, closures and the fact that this year's releases are being split across three dates, the numbers are predictably down year-on-year. Impressively, despite all of this, the year-on-year total sales difference is only -10%, when compared against 2019's total vinyl sales of 187,414.
With two RSD events still to go – not to mention Lewis Capaldi, Daft Punk, Kali Uchis, Neneh Cherry and Sports Team being among a host of acts to have announced new limited-edition releases for the September and October installments of Record Store Day UK – the world of indepenedent retail clearly has good cause to celebrate.
Here, Record Store Day co-ordinator Megan Page dissects the impact of the first part of RSD and looks ahead to the next two…
How did the first installment of RSD go overall?
“It exceeded the majority of stores' expectations! Naturally, we were nervous because this is the first large-scale change we’ve ever had to make to RSD – and we are still operating in a pandemic – but initial feedback suggests that shops sold out of most titles on the Saturday itself. In store sales on the day exceeded 25,000 units with many stores adding to that total when they started selling on line at 6pm.”
What feedback did you get from stores?
“As expected it was a slightly more subdued affair in-store because of the lack of live music and large gathering but many still had long (socially-distanced) queues all throughout the street and fans queuing up from the early hours! Many shops told us how impressed they were that customers came well with facemasks, kept their distance and were patient whilst they got through the queues of people. For many there was definitely still a RSD buzz in the air! ?Regions performed in line with normal with no significant variations.”
How much of the sales were online compared to in-store?
“The majority of the sales ?for those stores that opened on the day were still in-store as it was the first opportunity for fans to get hold of product before the online sales at 6pm. ?That didn't stop the websites of many stores falling over at 6pm as fans clamoured to get their hands on the records still available.”
Do you have any idea as to what the most popular records were on the day?
“It’s hard to answer this question because the product is made in small, limited runs so sales figures aren’t truly reflective of the most ‘popular’ titles ?and many sell out. But according to shops, the fastest sellers came from Robyn, U2, The Big Moon, the Art Brut 7” single, which was a brilliant release as every single sleeve had been hand painted by a different person, and, of course, the David Bowie titles which are always fan favourites.”
In store sales on the day exceeded 25,000 units with many stores adding to that total when they started selling on line at 6pm
Megan Page, Record Store Day co-ordinator
Were there any teething problems/negative things you’ll need to fix for next time?
“It was the first time shops put product online at 6pm on the day which we always knew would be busy, but we perhaps didn’t quite anticipate the Glastonbury-esque style demand for product it sparked. Despite upping servers and increasing traffic capacity, there was just an unprecedented amount of people all logging on at the same time trying to get releases which did send shop sites crashing for a short time. But hey, we can’t complain! Many shops experienced their busiest online trading day in their store history, so while they’ll need to make some tweaks for the next drop, they still managed to get through all those customers – it just took a bit longer than expected!”
From a practical point of view, do you think splitting up RSD over three months could make a difference on takings overall because it could allow consumers to spread their spend across three paydays?
“It obviously has its benefits as it falls across three separate paydays and also encourages fans to visit a local store on three separate occasions. However, the three drops were initially set up with store cash flow in mind – many retailers around the globe had experienced three-four months of little or no sales at all which would have made it very challenging to invest in buying in a huge swathe of RSD product in one hit. The idea was to split it up into bite size chunks and help stores build up cash flow in the run up to Christmas – which seems to be working.”
Finally, more artists have just announced some new RSD releases – do you think there will be more added?
“We are delighted to have just announced some smoking hot releases from Lewis Capaldi, Daft Punk, Kali Uchis, Neneh Cherry, Rolling Stones, Sports Team and more for the September and October Drops on Sept 26 and October 24. RSD Black Friday is also in the calendar for November 27, so fans can expect some juicy new RSD titles to be announced for that too.”