April 19 saw hundreds music fans rock up to their local record stores to join queues in the wee small hours of the morning to get their hands on the treats Record Store Day had in store for them this year.
Since 2007, the UK has participated in the Record Store Day event, which supports numerous independent music stores in many major cities. I ventured to Norwich to check out the buzzing scene when shops opened at 8:00am.
First stop – Soundclash, a small independent music shop who’s made home on St Benedicts street for the past 22 years. Shop owner Paul Mills’ daughter Rosie Mills-Smith described the day’s ventures compared to previous years, “Popularity of Record Store Day has grown immensely. To put it into perspective, last year the queue started at 3:30am and dispersed roughly around 1:30pm. This year, the queue started at 1:00am and finished around 4:30pm.”
Soundclash sell a variety of music forms, from CD to vinyl and cassette and want to encourage audiences to experience the physical, material forms of music. This is also emphasised through the variety of music from modern indie/pop artists who released their work on vinyl in recent years, such as Bastille, Adele, Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg and, perhaps not-so-indie band, One Direction. Donna and Paul, who travelled from Lowestoft to Norwich for the event, discussed their experiences of Record Store Day events in the past, “We were in London last year and saw Frank Turner performing live, but used to go to the stores in Yarmouth three years previous, before they stopped hosting. This is our first year coming to Norwich.” Paul goes on to describe the novelty of vinyl records, “They provide a physical form of music, don’t get me wrong, CDs have a good sound, but there’s just something about vinyl.”
Next stop was Prelude Records, which specialises in classical, jazz, folk, spoken word and world. They opened in 1985 and have been participating in Record Store Day for three yers. Despite Record Store Day not being geared particularly for the classical audience, there is a steady increase in popularity over recent years, with Prelude Records seeing a steady flow of customers throughout the day, and a modest queue of 10 before doors opened. Prelude Records also incorporated some of their own deals on music, such as 10% off all stock; to take advantage of the attention the event brings to music stores.
Final stop was Blossom Records, a newly established shop hosting their first, and sadly last Record Store Day. Blossom and her partner began their music business in the Norwich markets and expanded to a small shop last year. Due to the difficulties that come with running an independent music store, and with the substantial competition from Soundclash around the corner, Blossom Records have to pursue their music business online. Nevertheless, their spirits and efforts of supporting Record Store Day this year did not diminish as queues formed along the shop window bright and early. A group of like-minded fans, who newly became queue friends, – Nick, Laura and Vanessa – discussed the friendly community vibe that comes with fans of Record Store Day. Nick, who has been collecting vinyl records since 1976, commented: “The vinyl music industry has grown so much since the development of this event!” Hamish and Scott, two young guys who were the talk of the day as they were amongst those who joined queues outside Soundclash at 1:00am, were armed with a list of records they were ready to pounce on when doors opened. Scott mentioned he had travelled back to Norwich from Dubai specifically for this event – now that’s dedication. Outside Blossom Records, Norwich’s Access to Music College held live music sessions throughout the day with the line-up including local talents as Natalie Lake, Daisy Victoria, Horse Party, Jodie Richardson, The Sound of Sight and headlining act, Delay. Despite weather predictions, stage manager and organiser Chris Whitfield said, “It was a really good day, the rain threatened but good vibes and good noise kept the sun with us!”
Some described Record Store Day as a reminder to music fans that it is important to keep the physical memorabilia alive, and part of that experience of rummaging through vinyl boxes is so important to the vintage nostalgia of music, finding it at the roots of its production. Furthermore, Rosie, from Soundclash, wanted to emphasise that music on vinyl isn’t just sold on one day a year; it’s all year round. So remember to visit your local independent music stores whenever you can, to support music and it’s community!