Is Record Store Day dying? Sermon according to Sonic Cathedral

Is Record Store Day dying? Sermon according to Sonic Cathedral


It’s Record Store Day today and following our piece a week or so back when we asked whether the day has lost its original meaning as a celebration of independent record stores. We wondered had Record Store Day’s success in helping fuel the new vinyl boom actually made it a victim of those who seek to shift product?

Sonic Cathedral and Howling Owl’s split 7” series featuring Spectres and Lorelle Meets The Obsolete covering each others’ songs. They are releasing it a track at a time in a year-long series of releases.Nathaniel Cramp, head honcho at Sonic Cathedral has answered some of our questions about the recent statement they made about the difficulties faced by an independent label.

Do you think Record Store Day is dying?
When a day that was conceived to preserve and promote indie record shops ends up with major labels making a quick buck with manufactured rarities and Belinda Carlisle picture discs, then something must have gone wrong somewhere.

What is the idea behind the site and the single releases over a year?

It’s to make a slightly cack-handed point that ‘every day should be record store day’. We talked about releasing this 7″ for RSD, but decided not to.  I jokingly suggested releasing one a day for a year instead, and the idea stuck. We didn’t plan ahead too much, we just found out 2016 is a leap year, so there will now be 366 copies released! We will stick to it though, and all 366 will be sold in shops, at gigs, online, or left as gifts in some special locations. Just check the website every day.

Have you notice that reissues and special RSD edition vinyl gets precedent over the production of your releases?
I don’t think it’s that so much – in fact, the Quietus’ article about the GZ pressing plant yesterday said this wasn’t the case – it’s more the sheer volume of releases, many of which are simply not necessary at any time of the year, let alone Record Store Day, that just clog up all the plants and slow turnaround times down to a crawl. It’s currently about four months to get an album pressed and it’s getting worse.

Do you think with the deluge of reissues and repackaged releases on RSD that it has become too much about special releases and hype, and less about the record shops it was originally meant to be helping to promote?
Absolutely. The biggest mistake has been the relentless focus on product, product, product – which has been the result of the major labels muscling in on the action. This means that every piece about Record Store Day in the mainstream media is inevitably something along the lines of ’20 records you must buy on Record Store Day’, which encourages the flippers and this mentality that vinyl is an investment – like stocks and shares – rather than something you listen to. The focus should be on the shops themselves.  How about some articles like ’20 record shops you must buy records in on Record Store Day’?

Do you think RSD is a victim of its own success in a way?
Yes, it is. If the original intention was to get some positive media focus on record shops and give them a bit of a shot in the arm, then it’s job done. It’s time to rethink it so it is beneficial to the people it is supposed to benefit, rather than just Universal.

How would you change it so that RSD could get back to its original aim?
I don’t have a good answer for this, but there must be some way of spreading the benefits across the whole year. The thinking is that it’s easier from a marketing perspective to focus on one day, but when that one day is causing the problems that it is – for labels like Sonic Cathedral and Howling Owl, for record buyers and the very record shops it was set up to protect – then something has to change.

Here is the video for Spectres’ ‘Stealed Scene’, their side of Sonic Cathedral and Howling Owl’s non-Record Store Day single. It pokes fun at Record Store Day ambassador Dave Grohl as well as the raft of completely unnecessary reissues that will be on eBay by lunchtime on Saturday, or still gathering dust in the racks next April.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.