The numbers are in and Record Store Day produced a nearly 1% gain - to 566,000 for the week versus 561,000 from the corresponding week of the prior year - in U.S. album sales for the indie store sector, according to Nielsen SoundScan. While that may seem meager, it comes off as strong considering that U.S. album sales were down 15% last week to 6.3 million from 7.5 million in the corresponding week for the prior year.
"Any sales increase nowadays is a big victory," says one distribution executive. "Record Store Day was a big success."
Beyond album sales, Record Store Day is being felt in other places in SoundScan. For instance, 80,000 vinyl albums were scanned last year, versus 40,000 in the same week of the prior year, while 46,000 singles were counted last week versus 33,000 in the same week last year.
Also, Wilco's "Ashes of American Flags," available exclusively at Record Store Day participants, debuts on top of the video chart with nearly 9,000 scans, or 65.7% greater than the previous week's No. 1 video, Jeff Beck's "Performing This Week."
Moreover 11 spots of the top 20 singles in SoundScan's physical singles charts are occupied by Record Store Day exclusives, and that might have been more impressive, but a lot of titles weren't registered by SoundScan, including all the Columbia exclusive singles.
Finally, the nearly 1% gain only represents indie stores while regional chains participating in Record Store Day like Newbury Comics, Bull Moose, Dimples and Rasputin, are each counted as chains. SoundScan says the chain category was down 21% in album sales last week, but that also includes accounts like Best Buy, Borders, and Trans World so its hard to track Record Store Day activity in that sector.
In an e-mail to the industry, Music Monitor Network president Michael Kurtz wrote that Record Store Day participants averaged a 20% increase over last year's event sales. He also noted that Record Story Day made the top 5 news stories at Google on Saturday and was the 35th most searched item.
Record Store Day at Criminal Records in Atlanta was "off the hook," owner Eric Levin told Billboard. "People were flipping out over this new act on Nonesuch, Carolina Chocolate Drop, who were incredible. Mike Farris brought his full gear in and wowed everyone, while Manchester Orchestra were just kicking. I had a mass of screaming teenagers waving their [Manchester Orchestra] records; it was like Beatlemania."
Levin reported that he brought in 60 cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys, a keg of beer, and Monster Energy drinks, while all of the local restaurants in the area donated food.