Earlier this year I wrote about concerns related to major labels' getting into vinyl and sucking up
more of the limited time of current vinyl pressing facilities. However that's just one of the problems affecting indie labels and record stores for whom Record Store Day was created. But even if indie shops withdraw from RSD as some are doing, the crunch for vinyl pressing plants seems likely to increase as vinyl's audience grows.
The Quietus has an excellent roundup
of the growing concerns regarding Record Store Day. Their article includes and links to some very strong voices including the highly focused critique on Twitter of the current situation by indie label Modern Love
(see Storify below).The chief complaints/concerns at this stage include:
Major labels are not only booking increasing amounts of the currently limited capacity of vinyl pressing plants for an increasing amount of vinyl with a strategy that Rob Sevier of The Numbero Group described in 2011 as:
What can we shit into the form of a record and shove into the hands of the wanton masses?"
As Phil Hebblethwaite of The Quietus points out, value is ultimately in the eyes of the consumer but he also points out that:
in the UK in 2011, there were 277 exclusive Record Store Day releases. This year there are 643."
This increase has led to major labels hogging vinyl pressing output which has not only affected indie RSD releases but the regular release schedules of many indie labels who put out vinyl on an ongoing basis year round.
In addition, some plants are said to be prioritizing major label releases which is truly a slap in the face to indie artists, labels and record stores.
Distribution issues are also screwing indie artist, labels and shops. Apparently a lot of RSD inventory is non-returnable so that means even if an indie label gets vinyl pressed they may not be able to get it onto the limited shelf space of indie shops.
This situation is setting up a divide between indie labels and indie record shops as a small but growing group of labels withdraw from Record Store Day and begin to question their relationships with those shops. While online sales are difficult, niche labels can shift to the web and withdraw entirely from record stores which would undermine the viability of those stores.
Many of these issues were connected and summed up yesterday by Modern Love
The story certainly doesn't end there. The Quietus
also discusses possible solutions and complications to consider. The outcome does not look good.