Record Store Owner: RSD is Killing My Shop, “We Simply Can’t Make Enough Records”

Photo by Beth Garrabrant

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With Record Story Day coming up in April, U.K. record store owner Rupert Morrison wrote a piece for The Guardian talking about the pitfalls and dangers when it comes to Record Store Day.

The piece, it’s safe to say, raised some eyebrows.

How could Record Store Day, a new holiday that helped buoy record shops and vinyl albums, hurt record store owners? Well, Morrison makes an interesting case.

In the piece, which is titled “Record Store Day is harming, not helping, independent music shops like mine,” Morrison writes that the vinyl supply chain has been massively thrown off.

“This year, on 23 April, it’s a return to business as usual as record stores around the world celebrate the 15th annual Record Store Day (RSD) with help from Taylor Swift, its starriest ambassador yet (who’s releasing a seven-inch to mark the event),” he says. “But what was once a shot in the arm for physical retail is now an albatross around the neck of the establishment it purports to help.”

In the beginning, Morrison says, the idea was brilliant.

“I run an independent record shop that predates both RSD and the internet,” he says. ” the early 2000s, when physical record shops were decimated thanks to the rise of illegal downloads, RSD pumped millions of pounds through tills and undoubtedly turned a new generation on to the world of physical music. RSD is a remarkable event and its early years should be remembered as the revolution they were.”

But the times have changed in the past 15 years since Record Store Day came to be.

“Record Store Day,” the British-based author writes, “meanwhile, hasn’t adapted to the modern realities of selling physical music.” He continues, “This year, RSD offers 411 new releases, a fact that should leave those in the physical music business seething. Thanks to Brexit and the pandemic, we simply can’t make enough records. There is an international shortage of the various components required in vinyl manufacture, as well as a backlog exacerbated by last year’s pop-heavy release schedule.”

While some would make others believe the supply chain issue is fleeting, a one-time thing, Morrison says no, that’s not the case. He writes, “The issue is not going away.”

There are new pressing plants popping up but the demand increases. It’s too much—a good problem, in a way, but still, one that’s severe and exacerbated by Record Store Day.

“New pressing plants opening in Middlesbrough and Gothenburg are cause for optimism, but even their added capacity pales compared with demand,” Morrison writes, before adding that in his shop, “We have online customer pre-orders that were placed 12 months ago for albums that have been delayed so frequently that it feels futile to set a new hypothetical release date.”

In fact, Morrison goes as far as to say Record Store Day should be postponed or cancelled altogether.

“The event,” he says, “needs to be postponed until these catastrophic production logjams are alleviated and the organizers must consult with shop owners about the best way to help them celebrate this unique culture in the future.”

But will the behemoth that is RSD come to its senses?

Morrison wonders, “Will there be shops to celebrate when the racks are threadbare and retail prices continue to rocket?”

He adds, “I hope RSD can reconfigure itself as a genuine friend to record shops.”

Read the full article here.

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