Celebrating Vinyl

Local Shops Gear Up for Record Store Day

Phonopolis is one of the participating record stores this year. Montreal-based AroarA will be performing in store. Photo Adrian Sousa

In today’s increasingly digital age, many still prefer listening to music on their old school vinyl. Some insist the sound quality is better, for others, it’s just a matter of taste.

Despite not being portable or easy to maintain, there can be no doubt of the popularity of records among audiophiles and average music listeners alike, with April 20 being the 5th annual Record Store Day.

Record Store Day is an internationally celebrated day taking place each year on the third Saturday of April.

The event began in 2007 as a gathering of independent record stores owners and employees to promote the unique culture of the thriving number of independently-owned record stores in the US and internationally.

On this day, record stores across the world collaborate with hundreds of artists, selling limited edition vinyl and CD albums as well as specially released or re-released albums made exclusively for the event.

For instance, a limited edition live version recording of the Paul McCartney and Wings song “Maybe I’m Amazed” will be reissued in the 12’’ format. One copy will be available at Montreal record store Beatnick.

It was originally only available to radio stations back in 1976, but is being reprinted specially for the event. Similar rare and unique songs and albums from various artists will be available at stores all over the world.

This Saturday, record stores in Montreal and the world over will be selling this special stock, while crowds form lines outside their doors.

Local record store owners will definitely have their hands full on what is probably their busiest day of the year.

Pete Markotanyos, owner of Aux 33 Tours, saw a turnout of over 200 hundred people last year.

This year he says he’s anticipating even more.

Located in the heart of the Plateau on 1373 Mont-Royal Ave. E., Aux 33 Tours has participated in Record Store Day for four years.

Markotanyos explained that on Record Store Day the store is open earlier, at 9:00 a.m., and closes later, at 10:00 p.m., rather than its usual hours of 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. They also set up three tables just for the products they receive that day.

“It’s a big day for us” he said.

Additionally, there will be in-store performances by artists, including Michel Rivard, Groenland, Solids and a few others.

It’s also a big day for Nick Catalano, the owner of Beatnick music store located on 3770 St. Denis St.

Record shops receive a catalogue listing which albums will be released for sale, as well as the quantity available. But because of the severely limited quantities of product as well as the size of the market, what they actually end up with isn’t always what they hope for.

“We might order 25 copies and only end up with two,” said Catalano. “A lot of stuff is also US only, but the listings online don’t tell you if it’s available outside the US.”

The limited number of records received has lead to the implementation of a one copy per customer rule, to try to dissuade people buying all the copies and flipping them for profit.

Another problem, Catalano explained, is getting exactly what they ordered.

“Let’s say I order 90 copies of something in the hopes of getting 10 copies. If the demand isn’t high, there’s a chance that I’ll get stuck with all 90 and then have to sell them.”

The “shelf-life” of these products is also very short, because after Record Store Day, more copies of limited editions might get printed, considerably lowering their retail value.

Despite the risks, Beatnick sees its fair share of turnout.

“Everything moves really quick,” Catalano said.

For more info visit the Record Store Day website

Also see Last Shop Standing: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of the Independent Record Shop a documentary made by Record Store Day on UK record shops, available at record stores in Montreal.