Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Funday: Not Horsemeat Yet

In a week that's seen the deaths of legendary rock n' roll presenter Dick Clark, and legendary rock and roll singer Levon Helm, it seems fitting that tomorrow, Saturday April 21, is International Record Store Day - a real actual holiday, of sorts.

If you've never heard of it before, that may be because International Record Store Day began just five years ago, partially as a grassroots stunt, and partially as as a celebration of small, independent music resellers around the world.

Like cartoons and comic stores, the record store industry has been devastated by the advent and growth of the internet. Digital technologies - like smartphones, music players, and tablet computers - that have come with the growth of the internet have often turned musicians, cartoonists, writers, and photographers into people that major companies, and even our neighbors, tend to think of as "free content generators" - an offensive euphemism most often used by those who want to get our work for free, and sell it for a profit.

Thankfully, much as cartooning is finding new respect online - in part, due to the success of mostly-online cartoonists like Matt Wuerker, who, this week, won a Pulitzer Prize for his work with Politico - the old-fashioned, local, brick-and-mortar music stores are also beginning to find their place in the commercial hierarchy again.

Part of that success may also be because an estimated sixty-five percent of the music buying public continues to buy physical versions of the music they love.

For audiophiles and lovers of vinyl - like our staff member Shawn, who has worked in radio professionally for almost twenty years - International Record Store Day is a day filled with rare releases, and usually some pretty incredible deals, to boot.

For retailers who sell music - even those in the big box stores - Saturday will be more like Christmas, as International Record Store Day, after just five years, is considered one of the highest profit days for retailers of any physical music products. In 2011, according to Billboard magazine, sales of physical music saw a massive spike that retailers attributed almost completely to International Record Store Day,

It's also now considered one of the best and most successful grassroots-based marketing ideas in recent history - and it may indeed be the single biggest force helping to keep the record store industry alive.

There will be hundreds of bands with special releases on CD and vinyl this Saturday, and bands will be performing at local record stores all over the world. The coordinators of International Record Store Day even have their own website, where you can check out where the closest local record store is to you.

International Record Store Day is more than just a way to celebrate physical music. It's a way to celebrate a whole part of our collective human culture: the acquiring and trading of art in a physical form, with other people - something we support wholeheartedly.

We realize, accept, and even enjoy certain facets of modern technology in music that allow us to listen to and even purchase a copy of almost any song sold, from almost anywhere human beings go. Still, with the end of so many things flashing by all of us these days - including the horseracing industry in Nebraska - International Record Store Day is another sign, like Matt Wuerker's Pulitzer Prize, that while some things may change, we're not the only ones who still respect and even enjoy art, in a good, solid, physical form.

If you're looking for us this weekend, you'll likely find our staff members at one of our local music stores, supporting people just like us - artists, who know the value of something real.

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