Record Store Day Is Back For a Fourth Year

Not everyone is pleased about it.

By Elliott Sharp
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 10 | Posted Apr. 13, 2011

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This Saturday is the fourth annual Record Store Day. Conceived by independent record-store employee Chris Brown in 2007, the goal was to counteract the plummeting sales at stores while repositioning them as valuable cultural resources. But as thousands of people across our ravaged planet joyfully skip into local shops this weekend to empty their wallets, at least one man remains skeptical.

“RSD is a cool idea,” says Rob Sevier of The Numero Group, a Chicago-based archival label that specializes in reissuing lost and forgotten R&B, soul and gospel music. “It came about because record stores are hurting and any gimmick to get bodies into the building is welcome.”

The “gimmick” has evolved to include hundreds of official RSD exclusive releases. Mostly 7-inches and vinyl featuring outtakes, live concerts and other so-called rare recordings, these limited editions are meant to bring cash into the stores.

“Cashing-in is what the record business is,” Sevier confirms. “We’re not upset with major labels for being major labels. What I’m not crazy about are the literally hundreds of pieces of shit being shoved into the marketplace on this day, products, for the most part, that no human needs to own, ever. The economy of RSD is ‘What can we shit into the form of a record and shove into the hands of the wanton masses?’”

This year, Sevier and Numero Group decided to participate in RSD with a new release that wasn’t just shit. However, when they announced that Local Customs: Pressed at Boddie —a compilation of rare and unreleased 1970s recordings from Cleveland’s little-known Boddie Recording Studio—would hit shelves on April 16, it didn’t go over well.

“One of the employees at RSD threw a shitfit because we didn’t look with deference at the floor when speaking the holy name of RSD and we apparently had to get our release vetted and branded with the RSD high court before invoking the RSD name.”

Incorrectly concluding that Pressed at Boddie will be released by Boddie Recording Studio and not Numero Group, an RSD “official” began a misguided investigation.

“He attempted to call the lovely Boddie widow and interrogate her on why she is anti-RSD,” says Sevier. “It was baffling to the point of surreal. This same person has a bad reputation for harassing those stores that don’t want to pay for the official ‘signage’ and have ‘unauthorized’ RSD events. This dude is the RSD cop; he fights negative publicity with the fervor of (Church of Scientology head) Tommy Davis.”

After some heated conversations, Pressed at Boddie was officially sanctioned by the RSD bureaucracy. This is not a sign, though, that Sevier’s hostility toward the institution is gone. He still thinks RSD, especially the ever-growing exclusive releases, brings more harm to stores than good.

“Go into most indie stores and you’ll find some remaining RSD stock from last year,” he says. “These products are largely bought unreturnable, so it could be disastrous if they don’t sell the way the stores hope. I heard of stores taking out loans last year to make sure they were fully stocked. It’s easy to see how that might go south. Most I talk to sell very little of what’s already in stock. But what stores most badly need is an Official Go Into A Record Store And Buy Some Shit That’s Already Sitting In The Bins Day (trademark).”

Keep that in mind on Saturday as you’re scrambling for those RSD exclusive releases. ■

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Comments 1 - 10 of 10
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1. Gregg Jackson said... on Apr 13, 2011 at 01:20PM

“What a one-sided piece of garbage. Numero Group's Rob Sevier is a firm shoveller of Indie-Cred Coolness (trademark) has must oppose anything a major label or major retailer does. They embrace independent record stores? Awful! Robbie doesn't like what the major labels issue? Oh, terrible! Stock doesn't sell? Unbelieveable!!! You should have called this article "Rob Sevier: What a phony!" And Elliot Sharp - how about a rebuttal from "One of the employees at RSD"? The accusations here really just should like sour grapes if you don't report the other side. Such irresponsible writing.”

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2. Gregg Jackson's lover said... on Apr 13, 2011 at 03:53PM

“Numero Group likes to vacation on Vampire Weekend! Garth Brooks paid for those b****s to go to Harvard!! Did you know Robbie isn't really white?

I love you, Gregg.”

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3. Rob Sevier said... on Apr 13, 2011 at 03:54PM

“Gregg's absolutely right, this article should've included the many alternate viewpoints. It's also helpful to read the full interview here for some clarifications:

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4. Felix said... on Apr 13, 2011 at 04:50PM

“Hyperbolic as it might be, Mr. Sevier's stance is hardly the knee-jerk vitriol that Mr. Jackson depicts it to be. To be noted is the very first quote from Mr.Sevier: “RSD is a cool idea.”
Dismissing Mr. Sevier as a "phony" because he is not fully sold on the idea of Record Store Day is nonsensical. The reason why major labels are forced to "embrace independent record stores" is because their previous attempt to squelch them (banning the sale of used goods comes to mind) or out-volume them (Sam Goody, Borders) have failed. "If you can't beat them, conscript them" now seems to be their MO. For Mr. Sevier to be suspicious of the same major label structure that has assimilated and run off their independent counterparts for almost 100 years is simply good practice. There is nothing phony about standing up for one's own business interests.
And, flat out: for Numero and their clients to be harassed on the basis of a corporate branding attempt is revolting and worthy of ridicule.”

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5. Bob Djudick said... on Apr 13, 2011 at 05:30PM

“He Gregg Jackson your $100 Rhode Island modern soul album sucks bro.”

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6. MIKE DAVIS said... on Apr 13, 2011 at 07:09PM

“When I was in a band with the guy from White Zombie we would have never produced any RSD stuff.”

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7. Ja-Fabien von Fabien said... on Apr 13, 2011 at 07:10PM

“Cool story, bro.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Apr 16, 2011 at 01:17PM

“Uh, not sure but this may be an indication as to the caliber, thoroughness, and overall quality of this particular piece of "journalism"... This will actually be the FIFTH annual RSD. The article even points out that it began in 2007 which most semi-intelligent folk would be able to figure out, was 5 years ago not 4. I wonder what else they got wrong...”

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9. Elliott Sharp said... on Apr 16, 2011 at 04:21PM

“@Anon: Founded in 2007. First RSD wasn't until 2008, though. ”

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10. Jim Russo said... on Apr 22, 2011 at 07:43AM

“Indie-cred coolness has been just as much a marketing gimmick as anything ever hoisted by major coporate labels. Ever since the the 1980's indie labels have flooded "product" to so-called enlightened consumers. The SST's and Sub Pop's were just as guilty in their approaches as any Sony or Warner Bros owned entity. There has been an appalling standard of mediocrity that has dominated music for the last two decades.
RSD is a great concept worth supporting but I wouldn't use it as a banner for hustling music that sucks balls and costs a fortune.”


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