Resident Music's Natasha Youngs on RSD 2020 and why she's praying to the 'record shop gods'

Resident Music's Natasha Youngs on RSD 2020 and why she's praying to the 'record shop gods'

This weekend will finally see the arrival of Record Store Day 2020 – or rather the first instalment of it.

After the original April 18 date was pushed back to June 20 due to Covid-19, the revised 2020 edition is now being split over three dates – August 29, September 26 and October 24.

Artists participating with special releases across the three dates include Britney Spears, J Hus, Notorious BIG and Biffy Clyro. 

One of the stores preparing for this weekend’s action is Brighton’s Resident Music – the winners of the Independent Music Retailer at the Music Week Awards 2019.

Here, its co-founder Natasha Youngs, gives us the lowdown on what to expect and the latest from the frontlines of independent music retail…

How has business been since reopening, how have customers reacted to changes?
“Customers have been very respectful of the measures we have brought in to make the shop compliant with current guidelines. Since we expanded the shop, we are lucky to have wide aisles and a long counter to hang out at, so it’s easy for everyone to give each other space. The physical shop is unsurprisingly trading down on last year as there just aren’t as many people out and about. We are missing the usual bustling tourist trade and are running on reduced opening hours, but despite that we are doing better than expected over the counter and we’re thrilled to be able to welcome people back in the door. We love our online customers, but nothing beats the in-store atmosphere of a record shop.”

What have been key titles so far this year?
“There have been some great releases over the summer which have definitely taken the pressure off a bit, such as Fontaines D.C, Phoebe Bridgers, Laura Marling, Khruangbin, Fiona Apple, Brigid Dawson and Haim. And the autumn schedule is looking insanely packed!” 

How is the first RSD drop looking?
“The first drop is looking strong as it’s heavily weighted that way, with about 60-70% of the releases coming out in the August drop. We were going through all the releases this weekend to pick out staff faves and there are more than enough to wipe out any record buying budget (as if we ever set those!). The three drops thing is incredibly labour intensive and difficult to communicate and plan for, but it is what it is and nothing about this year is easy, so we’re making the best of it and muddling our way through. We just want to look after our customers so we are doing our utmost to make it as simple, safe and hassle free as possible. It’s a very difficult event to buy for, though. As it’s all firm sale, we need to get it right. We’ve become pretty slick over the years, but this year we’ve had to dust off the crystal ball, cross our fingers and pray to the record shop gods that we haven’t ballsed it up! Nobody wants to miss out on potential sales this year but nobody wants to be stuck with slow moving lines either.”

What are your hopes in terms of the sales impact? Did the Loverecordstores event give some guidance in terms of what to expect?
“Our hopes are that we get the ordering right, that we sell out of everything & that our customers get everything they want! We’re obviously hoping that it’s our busiest day ever, as the online sales are the same day (which might finally break us!). LRS was brilliant for sure, but it was a much simpler proposition both for customers to understand and for shops to manage, in that it was all online, and there were smaller pressing quantities, and therefore they were pretty much guaranteed to sell out, and fewer titles, so there was less risk and it was easier to focus on.” 

Will this still be focused online? How have you changed to a more online service?
“We aren’t expecting it to be that busy in the shop itself, certainly not compared to previous years anyway, so we are pretty focused on the online proposition. We are well set up for RSD online. We have done it for many years and have a good reputation for fast turnaround of orders. As you’d expect, we’re more dependent on our online sales than we have been in the past. Pre-lockdown we were on average 35% online, 65% in-store. This has been pretty much reversed now, so we have expanded the online team accordingly.”

Are there any events going ahead this weekend socially distanced? social media?
“In all honesty, we are just channeling our energies into making sure we organise the day well and run it safely and efficiently. We will have some nice bits and pieces going on to keep our customers sweet, but nothing like our usual full on day of activities. We’ll save that all up for next year, when we can do it all with our usual level of energy and fun…Hopefully.”

Subscribers can read our full 2019 feature on Resident Music here.

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