Independent record stores in Connecticut and around the world will celebrate “Record Store Day” this Saturday. For people who prefer their music in vinyl form, it’s practically a national holiday.
In 2020, sales of vinyl records surpassed compact discs for the first time in 34 years, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Michael Kurtz co-founded Record Store Day in 2007. He said the resurgence of vinyl has been largely driven by the musical artists themselves.
“Vinyl has grown because of the passion the artists have about the packaging and the presentation and the sound,” said Kurtz. “And that fits right in with record store culture and that’s why it came out of record stores, the resurgence of vinyl and why it continues to explode.”
Artists are also behind the success of Record Store Day, issuing special edition vinyl records that can only be purchased at independently owned record stores. These one-of-a-kind, limited releases bring out the hardcore vinyl collectors and fans alike. For example, singer/songwriter Taylor Swift, a self-professed “vinyl lover” mailed thousands of autographed albums to records stores for the event. There are 400 Record Store Day releases this year, including a rare, 1980 interview with members of The Clash.
“It was a promotional album they did right around the time of the release of their album Sandinista, where [Clash manager] Kozmo Vinyl talks to the individual members of the band,” said Kurtz. “He asks them which tracks they are most excited about, and then they play the tracks. So that’s an archival thing, but many artists will play new music on the special issues as well.”
Rich Martin opened Telegraph Records in New London 11 years ago. He’s participated in Record Store Day every year. He said he expects a line outside his store Saturday morning waiting to get in. He said shops like The Telegraph are important; they serve as much as a community center as a record store.
“It's a place for people to gather and join in with like-minded folk, and talk about their music and share music that others might not have heard of,” said Martin. “Yeah, it’s not just about buying stuff, it really is about that sense of community around music and collecting.”
Nineteen Connecticut record stores are participating in this year’s event. To find one near you, and to see a list of the 400 Record Store Day releases, go to recordstoreday.com.