Indie Shop Sales Were Halved This Record Store Day -- But There's Hope - Rolling Stone
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Indie Shop Sales Were Cut in Half This Record Store Day — But There’s Still Hope

With organizers adding two more Record Store Days to the calendar, there are new opportunities to offset coronavirus-related losses

Women's hands browsing vinyl records close-upWomen's hands browsing vinyl records close-up

Sales by independent record stores in the U.S. were up when compared to the days preceding Record Store Day — and down when compared to previous years.

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Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story compared the first-day sales of 2020 Record Store Day, which has been divided into three days, to 2019’s Record Store Day, which took place on one day. This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the comparison. Rolling Stone regrets the oversight. 

One of the main points of Record Store Day, an annual event marked by special music releases, is to incentivize visiting your local vinyl seller and boost physical album sales. And that still happened regardless of COVID-19’s wrath: Sales at independent record stores in the U.S. on August 29th nearly tripled when compared to the previous Saturday — up 185 percent, to be exact.

But sales were down about 50 percent from those during last year’s Record Store Day, on April 13th. However — since two more events are scheduled to take place later this month and in October — 2020’s number will most likely exceed the previous year once everything is added together.

Record Store Day sales have been down every year since 2016, which is how far back Rolling Stone‘s data goes. Prior to 2020,  the average year-to-year decline was around 19 percent, according to numbers from Alpha Data.

When organizers decided to push Record Store Day 2020 from April to August, they also decided to add two more Record Store Days to this year’s calendar. For the first time in the event’s 12-year-history, organizers have introduced a string of what they call “drops.”

By staggering the initiatives, it helps eliminate the feeling that customers need to rush to gather all at once. And for the stores that aren’t able to participate at one point — due to constantly changing local mandates — this means they’ll have more opportunities to do so.

“Record Store Day is social distancing,” representatives wrote in a Record Store Day Instagram post back in spring. “2020 is different. So what we’re doing this year is going to be different too. No one knows what kind of party we’ll all be in the mood for, or able to hold safely, at any time this year, in any part of the world. So we’re focusing this year not on the party aspect of Record Store Day, but on getting the great releases on the RSD 2020 List into your local record store, and then into your collection. RSD DROPS! Three street dates when titles from The List will be available only at participating indie record stores.”

Some of the best exclusives to come out of August’s drop included Billie Eilish’s Live at Third Man Records and a 50th anniversary rerelease of Elton John’s self-titled LP. Organizers have not yet revealed the list of October exclusives, but it should appear on shortly.

In This Article: music industry, Record Store Day


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