Tomorrow is the fifth Record Store Day. Having experienced all of them and two RSD Black Fridays as well, I consider myself something of an RSD professional at this point. Here are the seven tips to ensure you have the best time possible on the greatest day of the year.
1.) Record Store Day Isn’t About You
Record Store Day isn’t about you, me, the bands, the limited pieces of wax, or any of the distractions that have spurred tons of RSD think pieces over the last few years. It’s all about THE RECORD STORE and THE RECORD STORE OWNER. Even after you’ve braved the crowds and waited in line for hours, even after the guy in front of you grabs the last copy of that limited release you were hoping to score, keep this in mind. Record stores need our support and our business in order to stay afloat, and at the end of the day, that’s what RSD is all about. Recognize that as a lover of music, you’re in debt to your local record store for the role they play in fostering a community centered around the love of music. So go buy some records, and tell the person you’re buying from that you appreciate the job they do. Even if you don’t collect records, support your local store tomorrow by heading out and buying a CD, a shirt, a sticker… anything that contributes to the cause and lets them know you’re a grateful part of that community.
2.) Get There Early
If your whole day/week/month/year depends on getting that one specific piece of limited wax… GET THERE EARLY. Real early. It always shocks me when I see someone show up a few minutes before the store opens, complain about the crowd, and then break down into tears or get pissed off when they realize the limited release they wanted is already sold out. If this is a life changing record and you know each record store might have a few copies at most, then give up two hours out of your life and get there early. Lines get longer every year and I expect RSD 2012 to be packed all day. Wake up, grab some coffee, and get in line.
3.) Make A List
Wait, let me clarify, Make a SPECIFIC list. A lot of people print off the RSD PDF and use a highlighter to mark what they want. I highly recommend making a specific list with categories based on desire. My list has the sub categories: MUST HAVE, WANT, TBD. Only the titles that I desperately want go on MUST HAVE. The ones that I’ll pay for if they’re in front of me go on the WANT list. TBD is for the ones I’ll need to check out the packaging and price point for before I buy. What this list allows you to do is cut through the madness of an “all-open” record store, all-open meaning the store opens and lets everybody in all at once. In a matter of seconds the store will be packed with die-hard fans racing Supermarket Sweep-style to find the wax they’re looking for. Your time to grab MUST HAVE records is limited. Make a list, and you’ll know exactly how to spend your time, hitting the most important releases first.
4.) Work In Teams
There are regional-only records, there are UK RSD releases, there are Canada RSD releases… and too much ground for one person to cover. Most record stores only have a select amount of titles and bouncing from record store to record store gets you nowhere (see #2: GET THERE EARLY). I have a team of five friends across the country and we all have each other’s 3 lists. With some fair ground rules and a little bit of communication, we can maximize our haul and minimize our disappointment. Besides, RSD is more fun with your friends, anyway.
When I played sports in high school, the age-old quote was “Practice doesn’t make perfect… perfect practice makes perfect.” Basically, you should go HERE and memorize/visualize each of your MUST WANT/WANT album covers. Most record stores scatter the releases all over bins, crates, and on the wall. On top of that, some of the record covers lack any text whatsoever, meaning you might not realize that your gem is right in front of you. You will increase your speed to grab exactly what you want if you know exactly what every record looks like. It sounds obvious and stupid, but this is one of the best tips you’ll ever get about RSD.
What is this?
It's the Deerhoof/Of Montreal split 7". No Text. Maybe a sticker. Know your album covers!
6.) Be Part Of The Community
My first two years of doing RSD, I was so obsessed with getting everything on my list that the world and RULE #1 blurred around me. Remember that aforementioned community of music lovers? It’ll be out in full force on RSD, with great shows, special guests, and plenty of other pleasant surprises, all of which you should take some time and experience. Something else to consider – you’ll be in line and elbow-to-elbow with tons of people who love records. Talk to them, trade stories of your favorite vinyls, and compare your shopping lists (they might even be willing to team up with you during the mad grab). Trust me, you’re guaranteed to have plenty to talk about. Above all, just enjoy the fact that for one day a large group of people are treating record stores with the respect they ought to get year round.
Last year solidified the importance of this tip for me. I was in line with a guy who had just bought his first turntable and was going to RSD to pick up his first piece of wax. I forget what he wanted but I grabbed it first and then noticed the store only had one copy. I really wanted the release as well, but I also knew what a special first purchase it would be for him, and how something like that could potentially kick off an entire lifetime of vinyl appreciation. So I went up to him and gave up the copy. Have fun trying to complete your list, but never sacrifice the community of record collectors in order to get there. Be patient, be friendly, and look out for each other.
7.) Don’t Buy Anything On eBay… yet
Right now, the day before RSD, every item is already on eBay. People make their month’s rent snatching up limited releases and then up-selling them online for two to six times the list price. These people are assholes. The most common mistake we make, the thing that feeds these horrible people, is that RSD collectors freak out when the sun sets and they strike out on a few wanted pieces of wax. Wait. Be patient. Give it a few months and the prices will drop and drop and drop all the way back to list price. Last year, only a few people could get the Cults 7” and for the next few weeks it was going for $50-$75 on eBay (list price 6.99). If you go on eBay right now… the Cults 7” is $7. I understand using the internet to secure the wax that you missed on RSD, but don’t support these pirates and save your money at the same time by waiting to hit eBay until the prices drop back down to reasonable figures.
Get some sleep tonight, wake up early, and go buy some records. It’s a fun day that celebrates your local musical heroes, the people who have the guts to own a record store in a time when very few people are buying physical music. They do it because they love music, and they know that a world without record stores would be a nightmare for music fans. Days like RSD should be reminders to us all of how special they truly are.