Notes on a conditional format: Record Store Day targets new generation of fans

Notes on a conditional format: Record Store Day targets new generation of fans

Record Store Day is bringing together major artists, indie retail and TikTok to further boost vinyl sales.

The 2023 edition on Saturday, April 22 is the 16th edition of the vinyl celebration – a period which coincides with the revival of the format in the UK.

“It’s no coincidence,” said Megan Page, RSD coordinator at the Entertainment Retailers Association. “Record Store Day really put vinyl back on the map. It was something that executives had probably written off and didn’t realise there was still an appetite and demand for it.”

Vinyl album sales reached 5.5 million units during 2022, the 15th consecutive year of growth for the format, according to Official Charts Company data. That compares to the low point of 200,000 units in 2007.

The 1975 are the Record Store Day UK ambassadors this year and will release 2,500 copies of The 1975 – Live With The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, an exclusive double LP for RSD.  

The band’s No.1 album Being Funny In A Foreign Language was the seventh biggest seller on vinyl in 2022.

“There’s definitely a fanbase there that are really into vinyl,” said Page. “It was probably one of the biggest Record Store Day announcements that we’ve ever done in terms of the amount of traffic and volume of messages that came through our socials and website. In fact, it crashed our site a couple of times. 

“So it just goes to show you the power of a band like The 1975 for indie record shops and Record Store Day. And they have a real flagship release in terms of something completely unique, it doesn’t exist anywhere else.”

Taylor Swift’s Midnights was the biggest seller on vinyl in 2022 with 89,163 units. Swift’s Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions is one of the standout releases for RSD 2023. 

Page credited Swift with bringing in new fans to the vinyl event last year when she served as global ambassador.

“It was the Taylor Swift effect, lots of 14 and 15-year-old girls going out and finding their local record shop for the first time, queuing up with parents and friends, and making a real experience out of it,” said Page. “That’s really what Record Store Day was always intended to do. It’s a driving force to get new people who don’t know where their local record shop is to go out and find it.”

Record Store Day is about celebrating the culture of the stores and the art of vinyl

Megan Page

For the 2022 edition, overall vinyl sales were up 80% by volume week-on-week and 107% by value. Last year also marked the first time since 1987 that vinyl outperformed CD based on total market sales revenue over the 12 months.

“It’s amazing to have that significant commercial boost and uplift but ultimately, first and foremost, it is a cultural event,” said Page. “It is about celebrating the culture of the stores and the art of vinyl. But of course we’re really delighted when we see those numbers come in and the impact that it’s having on the industry as well.”

Organisers are hoping this year’s line-up of 400 titles, available at more than 250 stores, will deliver a similar boost. 

Across major label and independent releases, artists supporting Record Store Day 2023 include Sam Smith & Kim Petras, Elton John, Loyle Carner, Pixies, Nas, Madonna, Yard Act, Baby Queen, Greentea Peng and Piri & Tommy.

“Something that we’ve been saying to labels is to think more about the breadth of genre,” said Page. “We’re dependent on the labels to make sure they’re bringing us all of those different genres and styles of music. When you look through it [this year], it’s a really eclectic list.”

Alongside the Behind The Counter video series on record shops supported by Classic Album Sunday and Bowers & Wilkins, Record Store Day has formed a partnership with TikTok for 2023.

“In terms of widening our reach and attracting a new audience, that’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Page. “It allows us to tap into that 16-25 demographic and the crazy world of Vinyl Tok, and talk to them in a much more creative way.”

Alongside the involvement of this year’s RSD acts on the platform, TikTok will boost content, create a playlist in the Sounds Library for creators and support the retail initiative.

Page described Banquet Records as the “gold standard TikTok account” for a record shop.

“It’s going where the customers are,” said co-owner Jon Tolley. “If your customers are on TikTok and you’re not, then you’re neglecting a key part of what your business should do.”

With vinyl now firmly established once again and on track to overtake CD unit sales in the years ahead, the role of Record Store Day is changing.

“I think it has to evolve,” said Page. “Record Store Day was there to put record shops back on the map and to help with a format that was probably on the brink of extinction. 

“We’re now in a world where vinyl is the dominant physical format, it plays an integral part for artists and their marketing campaigns. So it’s about protecting the indie record stores, ensuring that their stories are told and making sure that the younger generation are being brought into vinyl.”

As platforms such as TikTok are added into the mix alongside traditional media support from stations such as BBC Radio 6 Music, the annual vinyl celebration looks set to welcome a wider audience into stores this week.

“It’s inclusive and diverse, we want everyone to feel that they can be a part of the vinyl community,” said Page.

author twitter FOLLOW Andre Paine

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