Thoughts on Record Store Day Releases, etc.

Much has already been said about these, and I know there are good things as well as bad things. Some of the good things include getting people to visit local record shops and getting them business, as well as just getting things re-released or getting new things released on vinyl. And it gets people talking about/excited about vinyl again.

I’m sure many people have already discussed those things to death, so I am only going to mention a few less good things, and talk about my own experiences.

Firstly, not everyone lives near a record store. I’ve heard people say, “Well, then drive to one,” “Call up a store and ask if they can hold one for you,” etc. And again, it is not practical for everyone to get to a record store. If there aren’t any withing 100 miles of you, if you don’t drive, if your work schedule doesn’t permit it during the hours they are open, etc. So the artists in question lose their money.

So the ones that were not available at all online will often get snatched up by other people, nonfans oftentimes, and then marked up to 2x or 3x (sometimes more) the retail prices. While you can also say, if you can’t get to the store, that’s just the price you have to pay, I would also say that not everyone can afford that kind of markup, and some people may decide it’s just not worth it. They could buy several OTHER albums, non-RSD releases, for the same price. So the artists in question lose their money.

With 17-11-70+, I have no way to get it except to overpay online, so I’ve opted for pre-ordering all the individually-released albums that were in the Burberry box set, instead. Amazon now has Songs from the West Coast, Captain Fantastic, Too Low for Zero, Madman Across the Water, Elton John, and the regular 1-LP version of 11-17-70 for slightly over $20 USD each (except SftWC, because it’s 2 LPs).

Why? Because I don’t have easy access to any record stores, and I just gave up this year. They lost my business on that release. I have plenty of early ’70s EJ bootleg recordings that I could listen to instead, along with several copies of the regular edition without the bonus tracks (another one coming in the mail 2 days from now, in fact). And I would wager that other people are also going to say “to hell with it” and either stream the songs from YouTube or illegally download them, because it’s just too much trouble, and/or too expensive, to get hold of an actual copy, since only 4,000 were pressed, and these were not accessible for many people.

Likewise, there were a couple David Bowie things I would have considered buying, and did not, for the same reason. And likewise, the material on the one release (Cracked Actor) has been widely available on several common 1974 bootlegs forever, so I’m just going to keep listening to the bootleg recordings. I imagine other people who can’t buy them will either do that, or turn to Youtube or mp3 downloads.

On the other hand, last year, many RSD things seems to be available online at or near retail price. The two EJ-related things were the reissue of Bluesology-“Come Back Baby” and The Thom Bell Sessions. I thought these were really odd choices, especially Thom Bell Sessions, but whatever. I got them both for about $16 USD each, if I recall correctly. This year, I spent $0 on RSD releases. I can deal with that. I don’t need a copy of every rerelease ever, and I mostly collect original releases of things anyway. I just don’t see how it makes sense for them to remaster things and promote them heavily if only a handful of people are going to be able to get copies of it. Even if they release the bonus tracks as official mp3 downloads on Amazon or places like that, it would seem to make a lot more business sense, as the bonus tracks were part of the concert on the date named in the album title, but never officially released until now. Supply does not meet demand.

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