Image of Michael Kurtz, Record Store Day co-founder, by Tommaso Boddi (Getty Image)
Record Store Day, the annual international event that celebrates brick and mortar record stores, is scheduled for April 16, 2016 – an eagerly awaited occasion on the calendars of audiophiles, music makers and retailers, alike. Its a day that happily flies in the face of digital downloading and subscription streaming services, exalting not only the primal enjoyment of music purchased in physical form, but the financial bona fides of the so-called vinyl resurgence, which raked in $226 million in the first half of 2015.
Began in 2008 by Michael Kurtz and Carrie Colliton, in coordination with Michael Bunnell and Eric Levin, the industry insiders conceived of Record Store Day a year earlier at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees, where it became clear that vinyl and collector culture was quickly regaining its legs. This, despite the media’s frequent portrayals of an industry in decline.
“In 2006, 2007, every single industry story was about the death of record stores,” says Colliton.
In need of financial and organizational support to further substantiate the event, they looked for a respectable brand within the industry and found in Crosley a worthy partner.
“Crosley was the only one that would talk to us,” says Kurtz.
A company with a long history of producing vintage-inspired audio players, Crosley has experienced a decade’s worth of upswing with its invigorated catalog of analog music players (turntables, jukeboxes), tastefully updated for the 21st century.
Together, the Record Store Day coalition banked on their early recognition of who the actual consumers of records were. “It wasn’t the bald-spot-with pony-tail guys,” says Kurtz. “It was younger people, 18 to 35 years of age. And there were more women buying records and behind the retail counters than you’d imagine.”
The first Record Store Day was a relatively humble affair, featuring the release of 10 exclusive records and the participation of a couple hundred record stores. Much has changed since then. The 2016 edition of the event will feature 350 record releases, with approximately 1,300 participating record stores in the U.S and 1,200 internationally.
To further commemorate the affair, Crosley will once again release an exclusive Record Store Day turntable. Last year’s special-issue turntable was a pink Ramones-themed portable, but 2016 will see the release of a vintage suitcase-style three-speed turntable produced in collaboration with Disney. Whoa, Disney? That’s a major partner indeed, and while a Mickey Mouse-themed turntable might seem oddly angled for the toddler set, that’s exactly the point.
“The appreciation of records skipped a generation in the 90s,” says Colliton. “We want to get kids interested in the magic of records at a young age, so that doesn’t happen again.”
Though the group is holding off until March to announce this year’s record releases and official ambassador (last year’s was none other than Dave Grohl), Kurtz and Colliton exclusively informed Crave of several exciting announcements:
Record Store Day’s 2016 ambassador will, for the first time, not be an individual, but an entire band.
A special collaboration is in the works with Twenty One Pilots.
Record Store Day 2016 will feature a number of “French-themed records” and cross-cultural events, meant to commemorate the Paris attacks of November 2015.
As we all know, the worst of the Paris attacks occurred at the Bataclan concert hall, where American rock band Eagles of Death Metal were playing before a crowd of around 1,500 people. This purposeful targeting of the music community has not escaped music fans and industry folk. In addition to its general mission of encouraging communal appreciation of record stores and their wares, Record Store Day 2016 carries additional weight.
Says Kurtz: “This year, it’s about healing within the record and artist community.”