Today is national Record Store Day, when CD/vinyl-peddling shops stock a slew of special releases — mostly on sweet, sweet wax — that have been been put together specifically for this day. Now in its seventh year, RSD is a celebration of local, independent record stores, as well as a chance for you to show your appreciation for those kinds of businesses with your wallet.
Bend has two such shops: Ranch Records and Recycle Music, though only Ranch is listed on the RSD page as an official participating store. But Recycle is definitely celebrating, too. Here’s a quick look at what each place is planning:
— At Ranch Records (831 N.W. Wall St.), they received more RSD 7″s than usual, so expect a big ol’ table of those somewhere, plus the usual bin of 12″s and 10″s. Ranch will also serve brownies and will make a bunch of old T-shirts from its stock available for free. They open at 10 a.m.
— At Recycle Music (3 N.W. Bond St.), everything in the store except new, sealed vinyl will be 20 percent off, and there will be food and drinks available. As for the RSD releases, Recycle got a few of ’em, but they’ve also stocked up on both new and used records, and good ones, too. (I picked through some of their crates yesterday.) They open at 10:30 a.m.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, here’s something I wrote a few years back about the importance of supporting locally owned and independent record stores. Every word still stands … well, except for the part about Boomtown closing last year. This was written in 2009.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You can get the same music cheaper (or for free) online or at Best Buy or whatever.
But here’s the thing: Independent record stores (and other businesses) need our support more than ever right now.
As CD sales plummet, thanks in large part to online sales and downloading, shops that sell actual CDs are dropping like flies.
Venerable chains like Tower Records have shuttered dozens of stores across the country. New York City’s Virgin Megastore, touted as the busiest record store in the world, shut its doors recently.
Locally, Bend’s selection of indie shops was cut in half last year when Boomtown closed for good.
Stack the slumping economy on top of an already challenging environment for the music industry, and you have what appears to be a slow, agonizing death spiral for record stores.
But not only do indie record stores need our help, they deserve it.
Record store clerks have a reputation for being unapproachable snobs, and certainly some deserve that tag. But most are exceedingly friendly, pleased as punch to discuss music with a customer who cares as much as they do.
And discuss music with them you should. Clerks at stores like Ranch generally know more about different types of music than those at big box stores, who must answer questions not only about CDs, but also iPods, digital cameras, vacuum cleaners, and so on.
This is, of course, a general rule. There are almost certainly big-box employees who know a ton about all kinds of music. But you can be sure that the further you dig into the underground, the more help you’ll get from indie clerks and the more blank stares you’ll get at the mega-mart.
Now, about selection. Sure, you can get the latest Lady Gaga, Fall Out Boy and Jay-Z at the big-box shop.
But if you want the latest Ladytron, Fantomas or Jake One, you may need to hit up the local mom-and-pop.
For many folks, access to Lady Gaga, Fall Out Boy and Jay-Z is good enough. And that’s perfectly fine. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But for me — and other serious music nerds like me — the independent record store is a vital lifeline to a world of music that might otherwise go undiscovered.
It’s a place where like-minded people can congregate and discuss the latest sounds.
It’s a place where you can still buy music on 12-inch slabs of vinyl, complete with actual cover art that you can actually see.
It’s a place where a young music fan can hear unfamiliar music over the loudspeaker, ask who’s playing, and then explore the rest of the CD at a listening station.
It’s a place where local musicians can stock and sell their product, and begin to learn about the business side of their art.
An independent record store is as important a piece of the local music scene as an open mic or jazz club or a young garage band.
And it’s a place where a guy like me can get lost for hours somewhere between the “A”s and the “Z”s.
I’d miss that terribly if it were gone, so on Saturday, I’m going to support an independent record store. I hope you will too.