Record Store Day Spells ‘Ka-Ching Day’ on eBay

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.

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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.

13 Responses

  1. Michael Kurtz

    As Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Jules Winnfield, says in the film Pulp Fiction, “Please, allow me to retort.”

    There were over 400 special RSD releases this year. The production runs for RSD releases are intentionally small. The goal here is to celebrate the artists and the stores, not to make profits off of huge commercial runs. The typical production run for a RSD release is 2000 units. That means approximately 800,000 RSD pieces were shipped out to the stores. Of these, we estimate a few thousand end up on ebay. Think about that for a moment. 800,000 pieces shipped and a few thousand end up on ebay, even though people know that they can get big bucks for these RSD releases. What this tells you is that most people are good and most people don’t buy RSD releases just to flip them on ebay as the headline of Digital Music News implies.

    I think the question that I’d like to ask Digital News is “With RSD 2013 being such a huge success, and seeing how the organizers masterfully worked social media to create the world’s biggest music event and most succesful music promotion in history, when will the organizers of RSD be asked to speak at the next digital media forum to explain to the digiratti in attendance how independently owned physical record stores have managed to do what the so-called experts in the digital community have failed at doing?”

    All the best,

    Michael Kurtz

    Co-founder, Record Store Day

  2. AnAmusedGeek

    Umm…Doesn’t that mean that the record stores actually did well selling out of everything ?

    Granted the reselling is a pain, but at least they were legally purchased copies…And who knows, maybe some fans that couldnt get to the ‘hot spots’ will be able to pick up a favorite or two on ebay ?

  3. Jonc

    GUH. THis is precisely why I got pissed off and left the store after twenty minutes and not buying a damn thing. I don’t hold it against the store at all (Amoeba Records in SF)…it was the sheer number of people there who were ONLY there to buy all the collectibles, causing a checkout line to literally wrap around the store an hour after opening. Even sadder was that the used record store Rasputin, two blocks down, was completely empty, because they didn’t have the collectibles.

  4. Adam Smith

    OK and who’s fault is this? No laws were broken, which means Record Store Day was doing it wrong. Okay so don’t steal, but wait – don’t buy legally and then resell? HUH?

    • Jabsco

      The only time reselling is an issue for me is when record stores go against Record Store Day guidelines and put them on eBay themselves without selling it on Record Store Day in stores.

      That said, I got some great vinyl that I have been playing the hell out of since Saturday.

  5. wallow-T

    For the first time, I made it to an old-fashioned record store on Record Store Day — 40 miles from home — and spent some money, about sixty bucks. Fun times.

    However: only one new CD release, an item which had been in their bins for a while. One 2-CD sale closeout item, and four used classic jazz CDs. I didn’t want any of the RSD specialties.

    The store was playing the (new?) vinyl LP of a 2010 Afrobeat album. It sounded pretty good in the quiet parts, but when the volume kicked up the sound went to fuzzy hell. Either the stylus was mis-tracking or the album was already badly worn. Yipes, haven’t heard that harsh sound in years. 🙂 Still, I’ll buy that on CD when the opportunity presents.

    It was a nice nostalgia trip.

  6. Visitor

    Them internets done gone n’ fucked everything up…

  7. blasterdaddy

    I support brick and mortor record stores when ever I can, only problem is I have most of the music I love on both Vinyl and CD already.

    Very tired of the new crop of artists, in my case, I really stopped buying music because, Well, the lack of new music I like.

    I actually find new artists I like in the weirdest ways, i.e. the TV and Movies,,,,Tame Impala for instance, I would have never even heard of them until I HEARD the Blackberry commercial.

    Of course I am now 56, and the younger folks perfer to get their music either free, or temporarly purchase it on iTunes. I guess us old farts, better appreciate not the music so much, but GOOD SOUNDING replays of the music we love.

    P.S. I did purchase the Tame Impala record from a brick and morter record store, only problem is I had to order it.


  8. Stewart (London)

    how about… the shops themselves reward their best customers throughout the year by opening 1/2 an hour earlier for them – or giving them priority entry? At least then those that support the shop 365 days a year get rewarded in return for their loyalty. Rather than the spoils going to someone who camps outside the shop for one night but doesn’t set foot in there the rest of the year?

    Just a thought.

  9. Lesley

    What about those of us that don’t have a record store in our city? Are we not allowed to buy records because we aren’t year round customers? I had to drive fifty miles to go to the store I bought my vinyl from. Tut tut though eh? Shouldn’t be allowed cos I’m not a regular.

  10. MJR

    Record Store day is a joke. If it was the goal to boost Indy record stores and allow the fans to get cool goods, then make enough pieces for all the Indy stores to get them and all the fans can get them at the right price.

    If you release an exclusive, limited to 750 pieces, then of course it is going on Ebay for major bucks. There is not one release that would not sell more than this, but almost all of the labels have made this ridiculous cap of items.

    I went out last year for it with a list of 6 items I wanted. I got one, and that was a double Ozzy lp with a face price of $36. I almost choked at that. This has become a festival of hipster vinyl sleeze and yet another example of the industry that kills iteself instead of doign something to enhance the existance.

    Make enough and make them available and record stores will mke sales, not Ebay.

  11. Chris

    RSD has become a joke. Instead of making eBay in waiting size vinyl runs of releases how about try and negotiate a 25% discount on dealer prices for all the releases in the shops for that one day. With electronic point of sale in every store its easy to limit that discount to one day. All RSD seems to do is reward a small number of people with a limited edition vinyl release the majority of whom I would have thought would have already shopped in record stores already.Shouldn’t RSD be about getting people who never set foot in a record store to actually shop there?