As much of America learned Wednesday night from a caller's question on American Idol, this Saturday is Record Store Day, a time to celebrate independently owned record stores and, as the organizers put it, "the culture and unique place that they occupy both in their local communities and nationally."
The day is an attempt to raise awareness about the value of the in-person perusing and purchasing experience that is currently in danger of extinction as the existence of many independent stores is threatened by the download. All kinds of fun stuff is planned for Saturday, including exclusive track releases from bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Vampire Weekend, Built to Spill, and R.E.M. and in-store performances and events occurring all over the country.
I've asked you before what your first album was, and I'm guessing most of them were purchased in actual stores. Do you get nostalgic thinking about that experience, and are you worried that the little record store down the street could close down? Do you ever buy your music in person anymore?
Tons of people, from famous directors to music legends, have weighed in on what record stores mean to them. To check out some of my favorite quotes and watch a clip of Regina Spektor talking about why she's excited for Saturday,
- Ben Harper: “Independent record stores are much more than the name suggests. They are an international community and platform where music has an outlet and an opportunity to grow over the long term, in a way that sincerely connects with community and culture. They are also a magnificent mob of highly opinionated musical bandits which I am proud to call my pals!"
- Peter Gabriel: "I was introduced to lots of great music through my local record store. It was a place where people knew music and they knew me, and could make great suggestions and discoveries. Whether it is in the physical world or on-line, the value of a great and knowledgeable record store has not gone away."
- Norah Jones: "It’s important to keep indie record stores alive because their unique environments introduce music lovers to things in a very personal way."
- Nick Hornby: "Yes, yes, I know. It's easier to download music, and probably cheaper. But what's playing on your favourite download store when you walk into it? Nothing, that's what. Who are you going to meet in there? Nobody. Where are the notice boards offering flatshares and vacant slots in bands destined for superstardom? Who's going to tell you to stop listening to that and start listening to this? Go ahead and save yourself a couple of quid. The saving will cost you a career, a set of cool friends, musical taste and, eventually, your soul. Record stores can't save your life. But they can give you a better one."