Luke Sardello, co-owner of Josie Records in North Dallas, prepares for the campers. When it opens at 7 a.m. on Saturday, he expects around 200 people to stand in line who have spent at least part of the night in anticipation of a once-a-year event. Saturday is Record Store Day, a nationwide celebration of records with 1,400 independent stores like Sardello. After the RSD was canceled last year due to the pandemic, Sardello expects it to be bigger than ever.
“There’s a lot of excitement building up. People are dying to get back to normal a little, ”said Sardello.
RSD co-founder Carrie Colliton told us the project started in 2008 to have some fun and to announce that vinyl is not dead.
“It started as a way to have a party and tell the world that despite the fact that Tower Records and FYE were closing, independent record stores across the country were alive and well,” said Colliton. “We just wanted to ditch it and say, ‘Hey, we still exist. And we’ll have a party for ourselves and everyone is invited. ‘”
Thirteen years later, the event is growing, also because LPs are making a comeback. In 2020, for the first time since the 1980s, LPs sold more than CDs, according to the Record Industry Association of America. Although physical media still lags far behind streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music, a growing segment of listeners is rediscovering the joy of making a record.
“I think we are in our 15th year that vinyl record sales are increasing. In the last year or a year and a half it has exceeded anything we expected, ”said Sardello. “I think people want to have something tangible.”
Vinyl isn’t the only vintage medium to make a comeback. Young consumers in particular seem particularly intrigued by antiquated things like paper books and film cameras. A 2016 book entitled The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter became a New York Times bestseller. It’s as if the deluge of digital options coupled with the constant work during a pandemic that goes on forever makes it more attractive to be finite and limited. It’s kind of comforting that the LP has one last song after which the needle goes up and the music stops without asking if we’re still listening.
Artists and record labels have noticed RSD. Dozens of them publish special anthologies or commemorative editions for the occasion. This year’s drops include Def Leppard, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, U2, and The Who. Customers aren’t all boomers who get nostalgic. Sardello said the crowd at his store includes teenagers buying Ariana Grande alongside Gen Xern buying the cure.
There are more than a dozen independent record stores in North Texas. As a celebration of the waning pandemic and the enduring power of analog, we encourage readers to get out there and find vintage vinyl.
And if you’re feeling really nostalgic, you might find yourself reaching for a printed newspaper.