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Saturday is National Record Store Day
By: Maryann Fabian
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In an age of digital downloads and YouTube, something strange and downright retro is happening. And it's not even #Throwback Thursday. Sales of vinyl records jumped 32% in the U.S. last year. Amazon says its vinyl sales are up 745%. As a result, new record stores have opened. And more artists are choosing to record again on this format.

Saturday, April 19 is Record Store Day, a way to recognize the “unique culture of a record store” and its role in the community — more specifically, the indie record store. Back in 2007, when the idea was hatched, times were bleak. Big brick-and-mortar chains like Tower Records closed. It’s much different today. People who sold off their vinyl collections are now trying to get them back.

The conversation used to be that music sounds better on CD. Then digital audio happened. And a 128k mp3 sounds horrible, no matter who makes your headphones. Talk about going full (black vinyl) circle, records are returning because they sound “warmer.” (Though some suspect reissues are now lazily mastered from a CD.)

But the record store experience itself is pretty transformative. The record store used to be THE hangout, where musical taste was discovered and nurtured. It’s where careers and bands were born. Berry Gordy had a Motown record store. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first met after a record shopping trip as teens. And who can forget “Duckie,” aka Jon Cryer, lipsyncing and dancing through the aisles to “Try a Little Tenderness” in the 80s teen classic Pretty in Pink?

Rap legend Chuck D. from Public Enemy is the official 2014 Ambassador. “We DJs recognize the importance of records and the importance of music culture,” he wrote in a statement after being named ambassador. “Everything is there on the Internet — everything. But if you don’t know how to… interpret what’s there, then it’s useless. The record stores are our curators. They’re GPS systems to guide us,” he added. He also offers a great idea that he calls “my first rebellious stance as Record Store Day Ambassador: trying to get every independent record store to have their own radio station.” He continued, “Independent record stores must be able to spread their wings and to show their flexibility. It’s about going there and being able to pick up content, data, collectibles, lifestyle, relevancy.” He says he’s not really a big vinyl guy but “a big art guy… Vinyl is a sonic poster. I know that I’ve signed vinyl all over the earth.” Yes, it’s hard to autograph an MP3.

To celebrate Record Store Day, 400 new and reissued vinyl albums will be released from artists such as Public Enemy, Bruce Springsteen, Sam Cooke, Johnny Cash, and lots more. Check out the whole list as well as locations of about 1,000 participating stores, t-shirts for sale, contests to enter, and more on the official website.

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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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