Record Store Day Wrap-Up

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If you would have asked me five years ago if the music industry had any hope of a resurgence, I would have laughed in your face.

Last decade, independent record stores were shutting their doors left and right, followed by the massive closings of both Tower Records and Virgin Megastores.

Why would people want to pay for music when they could just anonymously zap it off the internet in a matter of minutes?

It seemed like we had to hit a bottom, before people started coming together and realizing that music makers deserve to be supported just like any other art. Cue the vinyl resurgence of the past few years.

You can't steal a vinyl record on the internet as hard as you try.

And a folder of MP3s will never have the same cool presence of a freshly unwrapped gatefold record.

That first time you put the record on the turntable, how the hole in the middle is nearly to tight and needs to be slightly stretched out, these little details are all part of the experience.

Founded in 2007 (around the time the record industry had hit that bottom) Record Store Day was a beginning of this vinyl resurgence.

Giving bands and record companies one day in April to flood the market with cool special editions, one-of-a-kind pressings and in-store performances, Record Store Day has grown every year since.

While the compact disc has been in steady decline since the late 90s, vinyl has actually been selling better than ever before.

This year's notable releases found Jack White setting a record for quickest time (4 hours) for a song to go from recording to pressing and to selling.

White also surprised the industry by releasing a new, unheard Neil Young album "A Letter Home" which was recorded in an antique vinyl pressing booth.

These releases and the quirky ideas behind them show that the music industry can still be an exciting thing for all ages.

In Chicago, I had a delightful Record Store Day (Saturday April 19th). I went with a friend to Reckless Records in Wicker Park to see Kim and Kelley Deal performed a paired-down set to a fully packed house.

Kim Deal (ex- Pixies) made sure to throw a jab at her old Pixies band mate Frank Black (referring to him as "Satan.") The twin sisters had perfect, gorgeous harmonies, playing the Pixies standard "Gigantic" and the top 20 hit for The Breeders "Cannonball" as well as a slew of new material.

Afterwards the sisters did a meet & greet, and they were super nice and humble to the crowd of adoring fans.

Meanwhile, Reckless Records was selling records left and right, reminding me that there may always be a place for record stores in the economic and social landscape of America. And with that notion, Record Store Day had done exactly what it set out to do.

Breathe life into a dying art. The art of selling music to the people.

For more info on Record Store Day:

Photo courtesy of Matt Jencik