For many consumers, the holiday season starts with the mad dash of Black Friday shopping. For the music lovers, it is instead a springtime ritual of audio delight. April 21st marks this year's Record Store Day.
Now in the fifth year, this worldwide event has a goal of spreading the word about not only local musicians, but the independent small businesses that sell their product to the local community. This concept has been embraced by many big acts, who release special promotional materials sold only on this day.
It's a day where the citizens of planet rock can spend their Saturday afternoon searching though artist ranging from 311, The Black Keys, Foster The People, Aretha Frankin with Otis Redding, Jimmy Fallon, Genesis and so many more than one man should ever have to type.
There are a few tips though that I would like to give before you spend your time (and cash) returning to your vinyl roots.
1) Plan to arrive early: Many times the list of tracks available may be lengthy, but the amount available of each record isn't. For best shot at the selection get to the store as soon as possible. Some places like Daddy Kool Records in St. Pete plan to open as early as 8 AM. Now I am not saying to camp out overnight just for the limited edition Katy Perry's "Part of Me" Thin White Duke Remix... unless you are a big of pink 12" vinyl.
2) Schedule your day: Find out what the sales and entertainment schedules are for the shop or shops you plan to visit. Yes I said that as if you would actually walk into more than one record store. I know many people now buy mp3's from iTunes but for the purest or someone looking for a little tip should know that many vinyl records are sold with a free digital download.
Now back to schedule... know what you have planned for the day. Maybe there is a really cool band that you want to see at one store, but a good sale on used compact disk happening earlier in the day at another store. No reason you can't make both. Also be sure to check in at every stop since many stores offer special discounts for those using location based apps like Foresquare.
3) Don't travel alone: Make the experience of buying music as much fun as it should be to listen to music, and share with your family and friends. Plus someone will need to help elbow your way though the door or hold your stack and place in line while you make one last sweep of the store for that Regina Spektor 7" that the hipster behind the counter swears he just put out a few more copies. You will enjoy the day more if you actually know a few people there.
4) Listen for new stuff: Just because you have always been a Sigur Ros fan and only came for the two colored LP set of "Hvarf-Heim" doesn't mean that you have to only walk out with that. Ask the others in line who they are listening to. Hang out for an extra half hour to see if something comes on over the PA system that rings in your ear. Or if all else fails just ask someone who works there what they would buy. You might be shocked as to what new gem you find.
5) Listen to your music when you get home: I can't tell you how many times I have gone to events where you are handed a goodie bag filled with little prizes only to find a compact disk of emerging new artist that becomes my new favorite thing that week to play. Record Store Day is like an Easter Egg Hunt for the music lover where every kid (young and old) leaves with something. Usually it comes as a grab bag from the store with various giveaways. I would go through those songs first, before you dive into that new Paul McCartney or Bruno Mars. You will have more than enough time to listen to a favorite song again, but new enough to listen to one you have never heard.
Well that's it. Visithttp://www.recordstoreday.com/Home for more information including a list of available music and a map of stores in your area. Many stores also will have discounts on equipment and accessories, DVDs, CDs, Digital Downloads, even old tapes and 8-tracks depending on the place. There is also a guide available for download for both Apple and Android.