Yes, there are still “record stores.” Some sell only vinyl, some sell CD’s, books, DVD’s. Even if they don’t carry any vinyl, old music nuts like me still refer to them as “record stores” because that’s just what they’ve always been called.
They may appear to be a dying breed, what with all the downloading and file-swapping going on, both legal and illegal. But plenty of people still want the original, official disc with the liner notes and so forth, and there will always be collectors. Not to mention, burning something on your home computer doesn’t make the cutest birthday present (with the possible exception of your own “mixtape” style compilation. Come on, you know you love getting those.)
The record labels (another anachronistic but persistent term) are aware of this, and that’s why you see so many CD’s coming with extras these days – not only bonus tracks, but non-music items. Adam Lambert re-released his “For Your Entertainment” CD not only with a DVD and a remix single of “If I Had You,” but also with a mouse pad. The package was called “The Glam Box.” Some people will see this as a rip-off. Some see it as a nicer gift than the plain CD. Many fans see it as a great collectors item with exclusive extras they must have. Typically they are limited edition (the Glam Box is already out of print.)
The record stores, especially the “mom & pop” style record stores, are great places to find these kinds of collectibles, but there is certainly plenty of competition on the internet, especially ebay and Amazon. Sure, you can find most things online (although you will typically pay a premium, plus shipping and handling charges) but for people like me, it is much more fun to visit the local store every week and dig through the new releases, the old boxes, and the bins. Knowing this, and with reverence for that experience, a few people started “Record Store Day” in 2007; and it now takes place every year on the third Saturday in April.
What’s the point? Well, the record labels make special collectors items available only to local record stores. You will not find these items at Target or Wal-Mart. You will not find these items on the internet. (If authorized dealers are caught selling them on the internet, they will not be allowed to participate again.) It’s a genuine nod to your local independent record store. To be sure, the focus (as is often the case with these kinds of stores) tends to follow the usual “classic rock” genre. But there are some other goodies that might be more exciting to readers of this magazine. For example, this year there will be an exclusive Lady Gaga vinyl picture disc of “Born This Way.” You can read more about record store day and find participating stores at www.recordstoreday.com