Music fans turn the tables for Record Store Day

The sixth year of the celebration bucked the downward trend for record sales


Independent record stores in Dublin enjoyed a vinyl revival on Saturday when music fans came out in droves to support international Record Store Day. Customers queued outside Tower Records and Freebird Records in Wicklow Street from early Saturday morning, hoping to nab one of the many limited-edition releases by Irish and international acts.

Record Store Day is now in its sixth year, and the 2013 celebration has been the most successful yet, bucking the downward trend for record sales which has contributed to the recent closure of HMV.

Record Store Day was set up in 2008 to encourage people to put down their downloads for just one day and engage with music in a more tactile, sociable way.

In its first year, there were 10 special releases to mark the day; this year, 400 special releases were made available for music fans, including records by David Bowie, Kate Bush, Jimi Hendrix, The xx, Gram Parsons, Nick Drake, Phoenix, Mike Oldfield, Michael Bublé, Foals, Morrissey and Villagers.

Hot stuff
Flaming Lips released a special four-disc vinyl box set of their experimental album Zaireeka, which is designed to be played simultaneously on four turntables, while a 40th anniversary picture disc of David Bowie’s 1973 single Drive-In Saturday was also available. One of the biggest homegrown sellers was a single by Cavan teenagers the Strypes, who recently appeared on Later . . . with Jools Holland.

“It’s been busy all day,” said Gerry Browne of Tower Records. “When we opened there were people already queuing up. Our vinyl sales are continuing to grow year-on-year – we’ve had to expand our vinyl section over the past year to keep up with demand.”

Freebird Records had its best sales day of the year – “even better than Christmas”, said Freebird’s Gareth Averill, who believes the recent closure of HMV has left a gap in the record-collectors’ market which is being filled by the surviving independent stores.

“It’s almost turned full circle now, and the key demographic is now people 18 and up,” said Mr Averill. “They’re coming in and buying Nirvana and all the classics. The biggest fear was that the younger kids would grow up with their iPods, and that’d be it, but now they’re starting to grow out of their iPods. The physical product is becoming desirable again.”

“I’m looking for the David Bowie 7-inch,” said Gemma Behan (21) from Kildare, a student from Trinity College who was browsing the special release rack at Tower Records. “I prefer buying singles and CDs to buying digital. There’s nothing like having the physical thing. When you buy a download, you’re paying almost the same price for something that basically doesn’t exist.”

About 2,000 record stores around the world took part in Record Store Day, including stores in the US, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada and, for the first time this year, Mexico. US musician Jack White was the official ambassador for Record Store Day 2013.

“Deadly buzz down @Freebird Records. Great to see so many people buying records,” tweeted Dublin band Biggles Flys Again, which performed at Freebird Records during the day.

Other bands performing at Madison on Wicklow Street and Twisted Pepper on Middle Abbey Street included The #1s, Nanu Nanu, Tieranniesaur, Jennifer Evans, Squarehead, the Hot Sprockets, Gypsy Rebel Rabble and I Am the Cosmos.

Vinyl treasure
While many independent record shop owners may be wishing it was Record Store Day every day, Mr Averill is confident buyers will keep coming back to their local record shop all year to look for that special vinyl treasure. “I think people are craving the romanticism again,” he said.