Thousands of shoppers flooded New York City’s record stores on April 16 lured in party by roughly 300 exclusive releases made available for the fourth annual Record Store Day.
At Permanent Records in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, when the store opened, “we had a line down the block, with some of the people waiting since before 9, and we don’t open until 11 AM,” reported store employee Matt Milligan. “We had to let people into the store in groups because the crowd was too big for the store to handle.”
At Permanent Records which has in-store performances most weekends, Eula–which describes itself on its website as a “post-punk, pre-historic, medium-gauge, no-wave” band–played sets throughout the day.
Milligan said business was great beyond the day’s exclusive releases. “When the customers came in, they went first for the [Record Store Day] exclusives, but people were buying from the whole store’s” inventory.”
Still, while Billboard was there, the phone rang and the caller must have asked for one of the Record Store Day exclusives, because Milligan responded, “That’s sold out,” and hung up. He then told Billboard, “Those kinds of phone calls have been happening all day.”
Earlier in the day, interviews with music shoppers around New York City revealed that music fans were going from store to store in search of some of the more elusive Record Store Day releases. The two hardest to find, if not unobtainable, releases turned out to be Big Star’s “Third (Test Pressing Edition)” and Nirvana’s “Hormoaning.” But one shopper said they heard that Earwax had the Nirvana record while another said he heard Turntable Lab had it. But that couldn’t be independently confirmed. Meanwhile, New York City stores said that the Big Star album had never showed up.
In Manhattan on East 4th Street, across the street from where Tower Records used to be, Other Music had a constant line of about 25 people waiting to get into the store the whole time Billboard was there, which was for 45 minutes, from 1:30 until 2:15 pm.
According to a group of record label sales representatives hanging outside Other Music, when the West 4th Street store opened, the line went around the corner and down Lafayette Street.
Once customer came out of Other Music stand said he had spent $400 at various stores during the day because of Record Store Day. Not only that, he didn’t even buy one of the exclusive products released for the day. But he did buy two high-ticket boxsets: Daniel Johnston’s “The Story of an Artist” and an “Anthology of American Folk Music.”
The record label sales representatives reported that J&R Music had a huge crowd at the store when it opened, all anxious to get at exclusive Record Store product. In fact, the crowd was very “rambunctious” and may have given store security a run for their money for a moment or two.
At about 1:55 pm, about 100 people who were lined up for the Regina Spektor in-store, a privilege they earned by buying a Spektor’s “Four From Far,” a vinyl record released for Record Store Day. The performance, which was held in the empty space next door to Other Music, was recorded for a planned release on “Back To Black Friday,” the other special music retail day sponsored by the Record Store Day coalition of independent stores.
As Billboard arrived at J&R Music World, a band called Dogs of Zeus was clearing off the stage set-up at the back of the store. About 80 people are in the store.
Lez Zeppelin is supposed to go on 3pm but they don’t hit the stage until about 3:30 or even a few minutes later. By now about 125 people are in the store for their set, which the ladies begin with “Black Mountain Side,” from the first Led Zeppelin album. The band went on to deliver a set of nine of Zeppelin’s acoustic numbers and acoustic versions of two of the band’s electric songs. Highlights were “Hey, Hey What Can I do, and “That’s the Way,” along with the closing number, a rousing version of “Bron Y Aur Stomp.” Lez Zep encored with “Ramble On.”
After the performance, fans lined up to get Lez Zeppelin’s CDs and vinyl signed. Before the last song, singer Shannon Conley said Lez Zep had just released their version of Led Zeppelin 1. She added, “We did our best to do their best, and do best by them,” which in a way seemed like a theme for the day. Labels and artist did their best for independent record stores, who did their best for their customers, making Record Story Day and all around win.
(Click here For a Q&A with Record Store Day Co-Found Eric Levin)