Listen Up! Record Store Day Q&A
The third Saturday of the month is rapidly approaching, which means the fourth annual Record Store Day is nigh! This weekend, vinylphiles and tunehounds alike will forsake sleeping in and pancakes at the diner for a chance to purchase rare and limited release records as soon as the doors open at shops like Newbury Comics (all locations), Weirdo Records in Cambridge, and Tres Gatos in J.P., among others.
Chris Brown, Maine resident and head of marketing at indie record store Bull Moose who came up with the idea for RSD fielded a few questions for Boston Daily.
What brought on the idea to create Record Store Day?
I had a random brainstorm while writing an e-mail about a completely different thing. Luckily I was e-mailing someone who was in a position to get it done: Michael Kurtz, president of the Music Monitor Network. I was Chairman of the Board of the MMN at the time I thought that we could build on my idea and try to work with a network of independent stores that don’t sell music. That got me thinking about how other types of stores do things. I didn’t think we could make people buy CDs for Easter so I figured we better make our own holiday.
How has the “holiday” evolved since the first year?
It keeps getting bigger and bigger. I think that we had maybe 200 U.S. stores in 2008 plus maybe 20 in Canada and a handful overseas. A few limited edition CDs were released. This year we should hit at least 1,600 stores on five continents and the total retail value of the 250 special items released will be over $2 million. A pleasant surprise for me this year was that a number of local artists planned their CD releases around Record Store Day.
Who is buying music these days?
It’s everyone all the time, if you consider [the fact] that music is part of everything you buy. Music is an essential part of every movie and video game. It’s in nearly every commercial, restaurant, and birthing suite. It’s used on talk radio, in churches, supermarkets, and nursing homes. People turn on music to have sex. Every nation, school, and cell phone has to have its own song. You can’t buy something that doesn’t have music attached to it. People seem to agree that every human activity is better if it’s done to music.
Tower and Virgin have closed stores in the past few years. How’s business for you? Does the locavore movement extend to record sales?
Bull Moose, like many indie CD stores, is thriving. One of the reasons I suggested Record Store Day was to spread the word about all the successful pockets that exist in towns across the country. The locavore movement, that’s a great point. I’m a regular at the Farmer’s Market [and] a few years ago I got to know a guy named Chris from Fishbowl Farm. It turned out that he was a Bull Moose customer, so not only was he growing delicious and healthful food for my family, he was helping pay my wages. Some of those wages went back to his farm, so we had this nice little circle. Indie stores have always been the first to support local musicians, so of course they will be your first stop for local music.
If you could have any rare, limited edition/release record, what would it be?
I’d love to get my hands on the original mixes for side one of Axis: Bold as Love that Jimi Hendrix left in a cab. If you want me to pick something that actually exists, I really ought to get myself a Beatles “Butcher Cover” one of these days.
Why do you think RSD has been so successful?
[It] has become an excuse for most of the music industry to do something awesome for music fans. It’s also easy and fun for the stores, bands, and fans to get involved. We didn’t ask people to do anything that they don’t do all year round. We just asked them to do it all at once and try to things a little more special. It all stacks up into a big pile of awesomeness.