In case you missed it, this past Saturday was worldwide Record Store Day. In the UK and Ireland alone, 215 stores signed up for the event, and London’s Berwick Street, once littered with record stores catering to different musical palates, even celebrated by putting on a mini music festival in the sunshine.
As early as the night before, queues started forming outside some stores, with fans hoping to pick up some of the 450 different limited-edition, mainly vinyl, records being made available on the day.
Not everyone lining up to get in when the doors opened were music fans, however. A friend told me that, while waiting in line, there were people leaving the store offering to sell her the limited-edition record they had just bought – at a marked up price, of course.
By Sunday morning, thousands of the most coveted limited-edition vinyl records had found their way onto eBay. You could snap up David Bowie’s re-issue of his 1973 single “Drive-In Saturday” on a 7″ picture disc (with the Russell Harty Plus Pop version of the song as the B-side) for £45 ($70). The price the record stores had charged for it was £13 – or for all three Bowie singles, made especially for Record Store Day 2013, a “bargain” £99.
Meanwhile, Kate Bush’s exclusive limited-edition 10″ picture disc of the 2012 remix of “Running Up That Hill” was going for up to £60.
David Bowie’s re-issue of his 1973 single, ‘Drive-In Saturday’
Store price: £12.99 ($19.80)
eBay price: £45 ($68.50)
Number of copies on offer on eBay: 149
Kate Bush limited-edition remix of ‘Running Up That Hill’
Store price: £11.99 ($18)
eBay price: £60 ($91)
Number of copies on offer on eBay: 106
Paul Weller 7′ Flame-Out, written especially for RSD 2013
Store price: £7.99 ($12)
eBay price: £35 ($53)
Number of copies on offer on eBay: 112
Rolling Stones 7″ Five by Five EP, available for the first time since 1964.
Store price: £6.99 ($10.60)
eBay price: £69 ($105)
Number of copies available on eBay: 136
GZA vinyl box set of his legendary album Liquid Swords, including bonus material and a chess set packaged in a 12×12 box
Store price: £24.99 ($38)
eBay price: £150 ($228)
Number of copies on offer on eBay: 11
(eBay prices quoted are without having to bid and availability at noon on Sunday, April 21st.)
As with concerts, where there’s scarcity in the music industry, there are crooks trying to capitalise on it. What’s particularly sad, in this case, is that the idea behind Record Store Day is for artists to support the few record stores that are still standing by providing the stores with unique items to help them attract more customers – and to reward the music fans who make their way down there with special editions of records that they can’t get anywhere else. The hope is that these fans will rediscover the sense of community and excitement that these stores offer.
But the disappointment Bowie, Kate Bush and Paul Weller fans experienced Saturday morning (GZA box sets were still available at some stores on Sunday) is the same as when you queue for hours outside the ticketing office only to find out the concert is sold out. Sure, there have always been touts, but sites such as Viagogo and eBay has made the practice so easy that it’s more widespread than ever.
We all know that when someone sells their tickets on Viagogo the day after they went on sale, it’s not because they’ve suddenly realised they can’t go to the concert. We also know that those thousands of people flogging Record Store Day special editions on eBay the day after the event are simply the record equivalent of touts ripping off true fans. With any luck, their greed will leave them out of pocket when fans refuse to pay these inflated prices and, next year, these “touts” will stay home.
The enthusiasm displayed by both customers and record store staff on Saturday was palpable – they deserve better than to have their celebration tainted by those out to make a quick buck.
So how was your Record Store Day? Did you pick up any rare finds?
Written while listening to John Grant’s Pale Green Ghosts.