This week the list of specially released vinyl pressings for Record Store Day 2016 was announced. The annual event was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees with the first event taking place on April 19th, 2008. This year it will fall on the 16th April. It is described by the organisation behind the event as: “a day for the people who make up the world of the record store—the staff, the customers, and the artists—to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities.”
It’s a great day, not just for vinyl purists, but for music anoraks the world over. Each year, a multitude of artists celebrate the day by putting out special, limited edition releases. The list of this year's goodies can be found here: UK or USA. Along with the specially pressed pieces, there are always performances, artist meet-and-greets and a plethora of special events. If you’re even slightly interested in music, it's a very exciting day.
I’m by no means a vinyl purist. In fact, my format of choice is the humble compact disc, with my personal collection just tipping over the 500 mark. Despite this, I’ve been known to queue up at ungodly hours on RSD, just to get my hands on a special piece of music.
For me, there’s nothing better than owning a physical recording. It makes the music you’ve bought feel special, adding something to the purchase that you just don’t get with a download. And it generates a feeling that doesn't even cross your mind with streaming. I appreciate the benefits of streaming – it’s incredible that you can listen to any piece of music, anywhere, at any time; a real triumph of modern technology. However, you lose that feeling of ownership, which in turn takes value away from what the artist has created.
The one format I cannot understand though, is the tape. It’s currently making a large comeback in independent music circles. More and more new bands are choosing to release their music online and get tapes made to sell at shows. It’s a bizarre fad for me. Who actually owns a tape player, apart from an outdated system in an old car? Music is for listening to. Like I said before, the ownership of a physical purchase is not to be overlooked, but you should be able to listen to your music. And even if you can listen to a tape, the sound quality is pretty dire. At least with vinyl, it delivers the purest form of music – the sounds as they were recorded, not compressed like the MP3 files you get with CDs and downloads. A tape, though, is just a crackly version of an MP3. There seem to be no real benefits for me.
The supporters of tapes will say that it is cheaper to buy and make, which makes it easier for up-and-coming bands to produce, and for skint fans to purchase. There’s no arguing with this fact, but my point would be, is it worth spending that money at all, for a gimmick? The main reason it’s worth spending money on a physical piece of music, is because it’s special. Is it worth it, as band producing or as a fan buying, for a small tape that will never get played?
Personally, I don’t think so, however this is a topic I love discussing. I find the different ways people consume music fascinating. There’s really no business like the music business and I can’t wait to see what direction the industry takes, with the current rise of streaming, the vinyl revival and this new tape subculture. I’m just hoping and praying that the CD-rom avoids extinction.
Like I said, I love talking about this, so do get in touch! What’s your format of choice? Agree or disagree with me? I’d love to hear from you,
or comment below!
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Written by Sachin Turakhia