Vinyl listeners can now circle the third Saturday in April on their calendars in ink rather than pencil. Sure enough, Record Store Day has been held on that day every year since launching in 2008. But now it’s official: Record Store Day 2015 will be held on April 18, event organizers have announced.
The eighth annual celebration of independent record store culture ought to bring with it another batch of exclusive releases and in-store performances at participating shops across the United States. And yes, for lesser-known artists and their fans, it also means another year of potential delays in getting vinyl records made and shipped — though it can’t hurt that pressing companies have recently been working to expand their capacity.
In terms of purely album sales, it’s hard to argue with the event’s results last year. Independent record stores enjoyed an 11.2 percent gain in new album sales for the week, compared with the same week in 2013, despite a 2.2 percent U.S. decline overall. Indie stores’ new vinyl album sales alone were up 57.5 percent for the week. And at least several stores said Record Store Day 2014 was their biggest sales day ever.
It just so happens that every year there has been a Record Store Day, vinyl album sales have reached a new high since Nielsen SoundScan started keeping track (admittedly in 1991, after the format’s initial collapse). That includes last year, when new vinyl album sales rose 52 percent to 9.2 million copies, a seventh straight annual record. Yes, there might be signs of a possible peak: For instance, the recent trend of vinyl subscription clubs has spawned a startup billed as “Netflix for vinyl.” But Fat Possum label’s new vinyl pressing plant, combined with vinyl giant United Record Pressing’s plans to open a new plant, suggests the industry is betting there’s still life in the vinyl comeback.
It’s also fair to note that a fair portion of the biggest sellers on Record Store Day, as throughout the rest of the year, tend to be from familiar major-label names. A Nirvana seven-inch topped last year’s best-selling singles for the week, while the album best-sellers included Notorious B.I.G., Bruce Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix alongside Afghan Whigs and Tame Impala (Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet was No. 1). Meanwhile, vinyl prices aren’t getting any lower, and fans risk losing out on their coveted exclusives to buyers who just plan to flip them for more on eBay.
All that said, year after year, if the goal is to bring more people into record stores, the numbers clearly indicate Record Store Day is succeeding. And for 2015 — mark it in Sharpie — that day is the second Saturday after Easter. Yes, confusingly, the resurrection is celebrated at a different time of the month this year. Not so Record Store Day: And despite all the valid complaints, a John Cale-channeling-Leonard Cohen chorus of “Hallelujah” for that.