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Record Store Day

Everything you need to know about Record Store Day, "The List," and the event's pros and cons.

RSD 2022 + RSD Drops 2022

Comeback Vinyl will not be stocking any RSD exclusive titles, either for Record Store Day on April 23 or the Record Store Day Drop on June 18. Instead, we chose to celebrate Record Store Day this year with a special promotion in-store and online on Record Store Day (April 23) and with our month-long Spring Sale event in April.

What is Record Store Day?

Record Store Day, also known as RSD, isn’t an informal day commemorating records, like National Ice Cream Day or National Pet Day. Rather, Record Store Day is an annual organized event that celebrates independent record stores across the world. Every year, the Record Store Day organization—along with record labels and artists—curates a list of titles to be released on Record Store Day. These titles are often very limited, and they can only be purchased from participating independent record stores.

Since the first Record Store Day in 2008, the event has grown from a US event to an international affair, with participating stores in every continent except Antarctica. Starting in 2009, iconic musicians have acted as “Record Store Day Ambassadors” and some cities have even declared it an official holiday. The organization has also started other initiatives and events to support independent record stores, including facilitating exclusive RSD releases for Black Friday and the RSD Essentials reissues throughout the year.

Record Store Day happens every year on the third Saturday of April.

What is the purpose of Record Store Day?

Record Store Day was started to preserve and celebrate the culture of the independent record store. Before vinyl had its resurgence, Record Store Day was critical in keeping many stores afloat financially since, at the time of its creation, independent record stores were struggling to stay open. By curating a selection of exclusive, limited edition releases, Record Store Day gives shops a unique way to connect with their supporters and also grow their customer base. However, the event wasn’t created just as an excuse to press special versions of records. Record Store Day was founded to raise awareness that record stores still exist and are still important for artists and their fans alike.

What is “The List”?

Each year, the Record Store Day organization curates what’s become known as “The List,” which contains all of the exclusive releases for the event. These include hundreds of titles of all genres and eras of music. Some are special edition reissues, and others are being released for the first time. These releases come on all sorts of formats (7″, 10″, 12″, LPs, box sets, picture discs, colored vinyl). Some RSD titles (called “RSD First” titles) will end up getting a wide release later on, while others may never be added to streaming services or ever get pressed to vinyl again. Exactly how limited an RSD title is also varies. Some titles have as few as 500 copies made, while others have tens of thousands. The List shows how many units are manufactured per title.

There are typically around 400 unique titles on The List each year and they range from mainstream bands to underground artists. There’s usually a debate amongst the vinyl community about how “good” The List is once it’s announced. Titles on the list frequently change without notice—sometimes due to last minute announcements and cancellations, and other times due to the specific pressing details of a title changing. Since Record Store Day has such a strict deadline, production for RSD titles may be rushed, which can result in reduced quality control. The List also does not show the prices for each release since stores have some freedom regarding how they price RSD titles.  

How does Record Store Day work?

The Pledge

In order to stock Record Store Day exclusive titles, record stores have to sign a Pledge with rules put in place by the Record Store Day organization. These rules include particular regulations about selling online, pricing, and pre-selling/holding RSD titles. You can read the full RSD Pledge here

 

How Stores Prepare

After The List is published, record stores have to quickly decide which titles and how many copies of them to stock. Stores are not guaranteed to receive everything that they order and stores aren’t able to return titles that don’t sell. When stores order RSD titles, labels and distributors aren’t able to completely fill all of the orders from all of the stores. A shop could order 100 copies of a certain release and only be allocated 10 copies of it, but they could also order 100 copies of a certain release and have to pay the vendor for all 100. Since one of the key points in the RSD Pledge is that pre-orders and holds are not allowed, a store has to make all of these decisions without much information regarding what their local customers want. Official Record Store Day swag kits also must be ordered and paid for in advance before their contents are determined. 

 

The Day

For customers, the most common element of Record Store Day is lining up early in front of their local store to get a chance to buy everything on their wish lists. Some people even camp out overnight, and lines can take hours to get through. Stores have the freedom to plan their Record Store Day events how they see fit, so the shopping experience can vary dramatically for customers. Some stores will try to stock as many of the titles as they can, and others will only stock a select few. On the actual day, some stores go all-out in the festivities while others have a more relaxed approach and don’t make a major event of it. 

Why do some people not like Record Store Day?

For customers and stores alike, the limited nature of RSD titles can lead to a lot of frustration and disappointment. Many record collectors believe that, considering the popularity of the event, not enough units are made for a lot of titles. Because this leads to allocations, it’s a tough gamble for stores to try to get the stock that they want and it’s also tough for their customers to find what they actually want. These issues also make it incredibly difficult or even impossible for customers to get replacements of the occasional defective or damaged RSD title—a more frequent occurrence in light of the previously mentioned quality control problems. 

Another frustration for many vinyl lovers is The List itself. Some believe that The List is poorly curated and far too bloated, with some represses and archival releases seen as a waste of time and resources—especially in light of industry-wide supply chain issues. RSD titles also tend to have higher prices than standard pressings, which some customers see as a rip-off. Also, a lot of product unfortunately ends up going to aftermarket flippers who turn around and try to sell these limited releases for outrageous prices, and there is little that stores can do to stop it.

For some independent record stores and record collectors, Record Store Day can have more cons than pros. Stores also do not get advance notice for what titles are on The List, and they are pressured to order within seven days of it being published. This puts strain on customers to let shops know what titles they’ll be after on the day of the event which will still be months in the future. This, the issues of allocations, and the restrictions against holds or pre-orders make it far more difficult to gauge supply and demand, introducing a lot of financial risk to shops and challenges for collectors to secure the titles they want. Additionally, compared to a normal weekend, the number of new releases that a store is expected to stock on a single day is astronomically higher, so a lot of a store’s normal operations have to be put on hold to accommodate this, which can hamper their customers shopping experiencing in the weeks leading up to and following the RSD event.

What’s to love about Record Store Day

The titles released for Record Store Day can be very exciting. There have been titles in the past that wouldn’t exist on vinyl if it weren’t for Record Store Day, and the limited pressings and exclusive colorways can be very enticing to collectors and fans. However, some customers may think that these titles aren’t worth the trouble. Some independent record stores may choose not to stock any official RSD titles. However, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate and support independent record stores beyond purchasing RSD titles.

On Record Store Day, we encourage you to celebrate the culture and institution of the independent record store with us and music lovers across the globe. Nothing can take the place of flipping through bins of records, finding new music, and meeting and talking with lovers of music on both sides of the shop counter. We believe that’s the heart of Record Store Day: It’s about the shared connections we can make over loving music and loving vinyl, inside a brick and mortar record store.   

How Comeback Vinyl Celebrates Record Store Day

At Comeback Vinyl, our core values are about encouraging music discovery, supporting artists, and promoting inclusivity in the vinyl community. We plan our annual RSD celebration in a way that aligns with this mission.

While we do not stock RSD titles, we still participate in this global celebration of the independent record store. To commemorate, we have a sale event all through the month of April and special promotions on the actual day that we announce in the weeks leading up to the event. 

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