Two rival Record Store Day campaigns will roll out simultaneously in Australia next Saturday (April 18), the splintering a reaction to concerns about the inclusion of the big retail chains.

The trade body AMRA, which counts more than 500 members, had engaged with organizers of the U.S. Record Store Day to partner on an Australian version of the independent music retailer love-in. But organizers of the American campaign pulled the pin in February after questions were raised about the participation of the likes of market-leading chains Sanity and publicly-listed JB Hi Fi.

"It is with some regret, that the organizers of Record Store Day will not be able to work with AMRA on this year's Record Store Day event," wrote Michael Kurtz, co-founder of Record Store Day, in a posting on its Web site.

With firm commitments from 300 stores, AMRA persevered with its own project and will go ahead with an event on the same day, entitled Record Store Day Australia. That participation figure has now reached nearly 400.

Organizers of the AMRA-coordinated brushed aside the Anglo-Australian split. "I don't think the U.S. issue is a great deal at all," says Gavin Ward, AMRA treasurer and GM of Sydney-based retailer Leading Edge Music. "They objected to the fact our members and the people involved in the Australian event sell things other than recorded music, and they objected to the involvement of Sanity and JB Hi Fi's involvement. As far as we're concerned it's all about getting people into the stores and enjoying being in a store and having fun."

But with the big retailers taking a role in Record Store Day Australia, some Australian independents have made an about face, and pledged allegiance to the
U.S.-led Record Store Day. More than 40 Aussie retailers have linked-up with its international community of Record Store Day.

"We're not too fussed on the Australian Record Store Day, but we're still involved in it," says Luke Johnson, manager of Brisbane's Rockaway Records, one of a handful of retailers partaking in both campaigns.

For more on Record Store Day, see the new issue of Billboard tomorrow (April 10).