Saturday is Record Store Day, an international event developed in the age of the internet to build awareness for brick and mortar music shops. The music-buying public has embraced the event and many stores use the day to host live music, have cookouts and generally adopt a party atmosphere.
Bands and labels also have embraced the day, releasing rare titles, live recordings, or in some cases vinyl albums pressed with blood. On paper the event’s all about getting more people in the door to by vinyl, cassettes and CDs. But in St. Louis the day is much more about community building than just making sales.
St. Louis Public Radio visited a few local shops to find out what the celebration means for them.
This small shop opened its doors on Record Store Day off Cherokee Street in south St. Louis one year ago. For owners Scott Trausch and Jeff Michael, the day doubles as an anniversary party. They specialize in electronic, jazz and dance albums. The store will have DJs spinning rarities throughout the day. Trausch says sales increase on Record Store Day, but their real focus is trying to expose people to music they might not find in any other circumstance.
“We just want people to come out and listen and have fun and open their ears to new ideas and new things,” Trausch said. “That’s what we want, we want people to be comfortable coming in and asking ‘hey what the heck is this record?’”
Euclid, in Webster Groves, approaches Record Store Day from the position of record label and shop. Although Euclid's label isn’t putting out any exclusive recordings for this year's event, it has found success with that model in the past, even selling out of entire pressings in one day. The store also hosts one of the most packed lineups in the city. Usually its party is held outside, but due to weather concerns, this year's event will be held on multiple floors of the shop. Owner Joe Schwab says holding the event is really about creating a vibe for music fans.
“People get in the habit of downloading their music, streaming their music, and they forget what it’s like to look at the records, to pick them up, to see the artwork and read the liner notes, and that’s a really important thing,” Schwab said.
This boutique shop sits just a few blocks down Cherokee Street from Endless Planets and boasts a small but specific set of records. Dead Wax specializes primarily in used vinyl and don’t offer quite the exclusives available at larger shops. However, the store’s offerings are unlike anyone else’s and co owner Tim Hendrickson views the day as a chance to get more folks through the door, trading stories and passing records over the bins.
“It’s expanding the audience, for people who are new to vinyl,” Hendrickson said. “It brings in a different clientele and gets them excited about LPs.”
Music Record Shop will host its first Record Store Day at its new location at .ZACK on the edge of Grand Center. Dan Sexauer, retail manager, says a lot of the shop's clientele come through the doors looking for special releases unique to Record Store Day. But the store also has a stake in keeping some “essentials” on hand for the St. Louis music community, providing a mix of Michael Jackson, Rage Against the Machine, A Tribe Called Quest, and Flying Lotus for regular patrons.
“These are the titles that most people want in their collections, titles people are continuously looking for, we try to keep those things well stocked for the day as well,” Sexauer said.
The shop also will host live performances throughout the day.
Follow Willis on Twitter: @WillisRArnold