The music industry is in dire straits. Everybody knows this. And while the solution to all the problems doesn’t just lie in the purchasing of more music, it certainly can’t hurt. There remains a subset of people out there who still make pilgrimages to their favorite record store to thumb through the new releases and dig through the crates. (In fact, two of them work here at MTV News.)
In an effort to re-connect people with their local independent record store, Saturday (April 17) is Record Store Day, an annual event that encourages people to visit their local music emporium and spend a little dough (usually on some limited-edition treats). This year, devoted fans can pick up limited-edition pressings of singles from the likes of Sonic Youth, Beastie Boys, Devo, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones. The Hold Steady are even releasing their entire new album on hand-pressed vinyl a full three weeks before its official release date.
There will also be live performances and appearances from the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains and Mastodon, as well as a ton of tiny and local bands looking to provide a soundtrack to your shopping experience.
It’s a great day, and it’s for a great cause. Record stores are a dying breed, and that cannot be a good thing. I grew up in record stores. They’re a big part of the reason I do what I do now. I relied on two stores growing up in Connecticut: Music Outlet in Enfield and Record Express in West Hartford. Each one provided me with a place both to hang out with friends and to be alone for self-discovery. When I was in high school, whenever I would get upset at my parents or my friends, I would drive to the record store. It was a place where you could just hang out or discover something new. I’d meet other record store people and we would compare tastes and trade stories and fall in love. It’s weird to attach so much of your life to a recurring retail experience, but since I attach music to most of my memories anyway, it makes perfect sense that I remember the specific circumstances wherein I purchased Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals or Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out.
In the time before the Internet, the local record store was usually the only place to discover new things (especially if you were into indie or local music). That era has been swallowed by cyberspace, which was unavoidable. Now everybody has access to everything, which is great because there are no limits to what you can listen to (whenever you want to listen to it). But I still miss the smell of cardboard and dust and plastic, and on Saturday, I encourage you to try to help me recapture that magic.