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Keeping Record Store Day Real – and Groovy!

Keeping Record Store Day Real – and Groovy!

Record Store Day 2016 is fast approaching, but while the nine-year-old celebration of the unique culture of independent music stores remains a valid and worthy concept, it has become so dominated by major label novelty releases, irrelevant reissues, and corporate sponsors, that the focus no longer seems to be on the record stores themselves.

“There’s even a Record Store Day beer for 2016”, says Chris Hart, owner of New Zealand’s largest music retailer, Real Groovy. “It’s all about business opportunities, rather than being an appreciation of record stores, and rewarding the fans that make them special.

“And a lot of the prices have become outrageous,’’ he says. “They’re an insult to our customers: we don’t want to be penalising them by stocking twelve-inch singles that are priced at $50 or more. But even then, worldwide demand means we can’t sure of what we will ultimately receive, which, after all the work we put into selecting and promoting them, is very frustrating for everyone.’’

The resurgence of vinyl has been huge, growing over 40% per year for the past ten years, at a time when music sales are declining overall. Music fans are discovering how much better vinyl can be, when listening to music in a social environment. But there is growing disenchantment in Britain and the USA over the growing number of unnecessary reissues and irrelevant new releases which are of little interest to buyers, that are restricting the ability of boutique record labels to release new music.

“The galling thing”, says Hart, who has just returned from a tour of the southern United States, “is that even in March this year, most USA record stores we visited still had bins full of unsold Record Store Day exclusive releases from 2015.”

Of course, each year sees some fantastic exclusive releases as well, but Hart shares the frustration of his regular customers over the numbers snapped up by speculators who immediately flog them off on online auction sites.

Of course, Real Groovy will still be celebrating the event: there will still be a number of international and local RSD releases, but the emphasis will be on re-taking control of the event with a huge drop of fresh second hand vinyl, live bands, DJs, and the simple joy of being part of a likeminded, musical community.

“Because, when it comes down to it,’’ says Hart, “every day at Real Groovy is Record Store Day.’’

Record Store Day is an annual event, founded in 2007, held on the thirdSaturday of April each year to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store. The day was created to bring together fans, artists, and thousands of independent record stores across the world. A number of records are pressed specifically for Record Store Day, and are only distributed to shops participating in the event. RSD 2016 is on April 16th.

Real Groovy is New Zealand’s largest record store. Founded almost 35 years ago, it occupied a huge store at 438 Queen St. In January 2016, when their building was sold to be demolished to make way for apartments, the store moved into the vacant Salvation Army Citadel, across the road, at 369 Queen St, where it occupies three large floors and offers a huge range of new and used Records, CDs, DVDs, Hi-Fi turntables and pop culture merchandise from around the world.

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