Independent record stores across the UK celebrated the 16th anniversary of Record Store Day on April 22nd. The event has been a huge success over the years, with limited releases and exclusive records flying off the shelves in seconds. With everything coming back full circle, a resurgence of old records has been catalysed more than ever. Music from the 60s/70s seems to be making a comeback, especially in cities such as Manchester and Liverpool.
Chester-based record store Up North Records has done particularly well this year. Owner Ronnie Moore discussed the impact Record Store Day has on the industry, and what the future looks like for it: “This month has been the best one yet for us, with queues starting from 11pm the night prior to the event.”
He elaborates on this point and touches on the fact that due to the current climate, he did not anticipate a large turnout. “The music industry needs to stay alive,” he argues, a powerful and valid quote that many people must hear. Ronnie explains how Record Store Day strengthens the independent record stores in terms of bringing in new artists, which allows people to be aware of current bands who are trending. It also puts a bit more money back into music – musicians are making more profit on physical copies rather than the likes of digitally streaming music.
The competition with other record stores drives Ronnie’s ambition. Up North Records is one of the only independent record store in the city, which immediately puts them at an advantage. Ronnie explains: “There is HMV, but we tend to do some things that perhaps they would never touch and vice-versa,” emphasising the fact they each have separate ways of doing things. He expands on this point: “When you come into a shop like here, customers like to chat, and you don’t really get that in larger businesses with the likes of HMV.” It is all about forming a bond with regular customers and getting to know their music preferences. This understandably makes it more of a rewarding endeavour.
Ronnie’s experience with previous Record Store Days has, in fact, highly benefited underground musicians from Chester. He would put out a selection of local artists’ records on display, deeming it to have worked in their favour. An example of this includes PEANESS, a girl band who have been on the scene since 2015. Ronnie discloses that they used to frequently come in and sell their 12-inch LPs, having only recently started their band. They have since progressed and produced their first album in spring last year and are now gaining the recognition they deserve.
It is safe to say Record Store Day serves a significant purpose for both fans and artists; it shows appreciation for the avid record collectors, and of course to the people who bless our ears with the wonderful creation we call music.
Words and Images by Jemma Forbes