Launched in 2007 in the U.S., the sales event is now observed in the U.K., Japan and Australia, to name a few countries.
In Austin, at least 12 stores will carry Record Store Day titles and related items this year, according to the official Record Store Day website, including longtime participating outlets such as End of an Ear in South Austin as well as newer stores like Groover’s Paradise Record Shop, which is located at The Oasis on Lake Travis.
Groover’s Paradise owner Greg Ellis said his store is in its second year of participation. He opened his shop just after the 2015 event in late April of that year, narrowly missing his initial opportunity to reap the rewards the event provides for independent record stores.
“It’s always a nice thing—in generating traffic for us stores, especially a store like ours that is new and then in a location that maybe people don’t go to every day. So it really helps us,” Ellis said.
Ellis said the event is based on a list of exclusive titles by new and celebrated musical artists—live recordings, reissues, vault compilations, etc.—that are then distributed via participating independent record stores across the U.S.
A Record Store Day participating store must be a standalone brick-and-mortar retailer whose primary business focuses on a physical store location and whose product line consists of at least 50 percent music retail, according to the event's website. Participating stores must also not be publicly traded and ownership must be at least 70 percent in the state of operation.
Ellis said while some Record Store Day titles can be strictly for diehard fans, the event attracts a wide consumer base that ensures such releases will find their way into the hands of an eager customer.
“The titles are limited edition releases for [Record Store Day],” Ellis said. “The market is not huge for them but with an event like Record Store Day, you can target pretty much all of the people who are going to want it all at once and make it viable.”
End of an Ear co-owner Dan Plunkett said his shop has participated since the event’s inaugural year and has watched the event grow over the years.
“Nearly every year has been bigger than the past [one],” Plunkett said. “Though I think last year, the number of titles released on Record Store Day was reduced to a more manageable number.”
The 2017 list, which includes releases by artists as diverse as Big Star, Robert Johnson, Sun Ra, Thrice and The Zombies, is available on the Record Store Day website—thus ensuring record buyers have a handy shopping guide when visiting a participating location.
Plunkett said some of the most anticipated titles this year at his store will likely be U.K.G’s “Too Hard to Swallow” double LP, “Live from Austin City Limits” by Townes Van Zandt, the double LP set “Death Song” by Austin psychedelic rockers The Black Angels as well as “Low Country” by Austin metal band The Sword.
Over at Breakaway Records in north Central Austin, manager Scott Heard said his shop is in its sixth year of participation. While the store originally focused on soul music, most of its sales are rock-based releases, he said.
Heard said the store, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., will stock titles by Big L, Andre 2000, The Ramones, Talking Heads and The Kinks as well as various compilation sets.
“The reggae box set from Soul Jazz [Records] is really interesting,” he said. “Seems like there’s a lot of good songs on there; what you get for the price is pretty good.”
Ellis said Groover’s Paradise will open at 10 a.m., two hours earlier than normal, and will likely stay open until the last customer leaves. “I don’t have a set closing time,” he said, encouraging customers to call ahead if planning a visit late in the day.
“I don’t have a set closing time,” he said, encouraging customers to call ahead if planning a visit late in the day.
Heard said while some Breakaway customers have arrived as early as 1 a.m. in the past, last year’s crowd began building at a more reasonable hour.
“Last year, it was more like 8 or 9 o’clock [in the morning],” Heard said.
Plunkett, whose store will open at 10 a.m. and close at 9 p.m., said much the same about the customers who frequent End of an Ear on Record Store Day.
“A few diehards start lining up very early in the morning, but the majority start getting here around 8 or 8:30 a.m.,” he said.
Ellis said Record Store Day has helped his store attract new customers who may not have known about Groover’s Paradise prior to the event.
“Most of the customers we got last year came later in the day and had already been to one other store,” Ellis said. “They were looking for specific items and if they didn’t find it at my store, they found it at someplace. And they found my store too. So it was a win-win for everybody.”
Looking ahead, the spring edition of the Austin Record Show takes place May 6-7 at the Palmer Events Center. The show also offers a VIP/early shopping option that gives buyers early access to the show May 5. Billed as the largest sale of recorded music in the U.S., the Austin Record Convention features more than 300 dealers whose tables include everything from 78s to picture discs to box sets to T-shirts. General admission is a one-time fee of $5, which covers entry for both Saturday and Sunday. VIP passes are also available for Friday access between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for $40. General admission hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.