Culture, Music

Record Store Day 2012 and the vinyl revival

The line didn’t seem so long at first. It was only when I had cleared the greying industry buildings that blocked the record shop from view that I realised I my trip may have been in vain. And the worst part was it was only 7:30am in the morning.

It was Record Store Day 2012, and I was heading to Rough Trade East to try and get my hands on the some of the hot exclusive releases that were out specially for the day. This was the first time I had the opportunity to experience what the record-buying vibe was like in London, having been in Nottingham previously.

It’s fascinating how much the vinyl scene has blossomed in the last three years. Indie labels have always been strong supports of the format and they’ve kept it alive long enough for newcomers to discover its depth and its beauty.

Of course, there have been many casualties in the form of all the independent record stores that have gone under. One of the last record stores in my area, Cavern Records in Waltham Forest, closed its doors last year. Very disappointed to see it go.

Record Store Day started Stateside in 2007 as a way of encouraging people to shop at independent record stores again. Rough Trade general manager Spencer Hickman helped bring it to the UK the following year, and since then it’s become the most important day in the indie store calendar, attracting many more customers than usual and getting new faces through the door.

The annual day seems to have done the trick judging by vinyl sales between 2010 and 2011. But Record Store Day alone isn’t responsible for the increased demand in vinyl. I was eager to find out what was behind the vinyl revival here in the UK, so in the run up to this year’s event, I spoke to several east London record store owners and a bunch of music sceneters for EastLondonLines.

My radio colleague, Olga Casablanca, also produced some original audio broadcasts about RSD12 for Zone One Radio. And last year, Phillip Brown produced a great report on the Berwick Street indie market.

Back at Rough Trade East, I gazed with ever increasing dread at the line that snaked all the way back to the disused service entrance of the old brewery. At least 150 people stood between me and the vinyl I craved. But today luck was on my side. When I finally made it inside, I walked away with records from Gorillaz, Lianne La Havas, De La Soul, the Beatles and the Pharcyde. Score.

Image: Spencer Hickman/Flickr