While this year’s Record Store Day was a resounding success, retailers and labels met in a townhall meeting to figure out how they can make next year’s event even bigger.
The meeting started with a report from a couple of international players on how the day went in their own countries.
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U.K. Record Store Day chief Spencer Hickman — who is currently at London’s Rough Trade East but will soon be moving to New York to open a Rough Trade Store in Brooklyn — reported that 80 stores participated in the day and those stores staged about 200 in-store performances. Moreover, the U.K. labels really stepped up to the plate, providing 450 releases for Record Store Day, which is more than the 300 Record Store Day releases issued in the United States.
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Record Store Day “is the biggest day ever for indie stores,” Hickman said. “My store was up 47%. It’s bigger than Christmas.”
Marlein Parlevliet, who runs Record Store Day in Holland, reported that one of the country’s biggest artists put out a record singing about record store days and the importance of record stores. But she asked the room for more help in getting the labels to deliver exclusive product for her.
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As Record Store Day gets bigger and becomes truly international, labels need to think about the quantities that they provide on each release. Some releases were highly short after and the amounts published were way inadequate to meet demand. That resulted in allocations that were so small that it created problems for the stores.
It also created problems for Alliance Entertainment, the company’s VP of sales Ken Glaser said. He noted that Alliance got 30 copies of a very popular title and after he finished allocating it, stores were so angy at his company that it would have probably been better if it didn’t receive any at all.
In some instances, popular titles that were issued in small quantities were due to the timing of when the piece was added to the Record Store Day lineup. If it was added at the last minute, the time-consuming process behind building enough vinyl units and getting the artwork insured that only a small amount could get built in time for Record Store Day, EMI marketing manager Joan Kane said. She noted that her company had gotten the right amount into the hands of merchants on most of their Record Store Day releases, but did have a problem with a couple of titles.
In order to get the right quantities made in time for Record Store Day, the whole process has to start early, United Record Pressing’s Jay Miller said. In order to get the product to stores, his company began printing Record Store Day product in early February and ran non-stop from 5 a.m. every Monday morning until midnight every Friday night right up until to Record Store Day. “It’s great that it starts as early as Feburary, but hoping next year we get those orders in early January,” Miller said.
Price is often the factor that determines how many will be made. “We ran a P&L and determined that we needed to sell 2,000 to hit break even,” a label representative on the other side of the room said. “We got more orders for it than that.”
But often by the time the accounts order, production amounts have been set and pressing plants have been booked, which means that it would be too late to up the order, label executives said.
Another issue driving product shortages is when some accounts double dip, buy directly from the label and then also order from a one-stop. Music Monitor Network chief Michael Kurtz said that allocations aren’t the problem so much as the quantities. As more countries come onboard for Record Store Day, allocations will become less per title, if quantities stay the same.
One of the great things to come out of vinyl and Record Store Day is that there is a whole new generation of kids coming into stores to buy music, labels and record store owners said. That is good news, because the industry missed out on the last generation who believe music is free on the Internet. Record store owners reminded labels that providing stores with free sample bag stuffers on Record Store Day is the perfect way to get kids hooked into buying music.
Why aren’t their special Record Store Day releases from superstar acts like Taylor Swift, which has a young audience, One a label representative asked, noting there are plenty of releases for music collectors. If something was put out, it would bring a whole other segment of the young market into record stores, he said.
Kurtz agreed with this observation, noting that he had turned down a Katy Perry item in the prior year. But this year gave it the green light and her “Part Of Me” release on colored 12-inch vinyl had proved to be a very popular item. “Katy Perry got more press than anybody on her Record Store Day release,” he said. “Through that we reached a whole another audience that weren’t here before.”