Saturday 19th April marked the seventh annual Record Store Day, a celebration of independent record stores, serving as a reminder of what made, and still, makes them great. Up and down the country, stores offered special exclusive releases from artists such as Tame Impala, Parquet Courts and even One Direction. With live in-store performances and bustling crowds, it truly did feel like a celebration.
When it comes to independent record stores, we’re somewhat spoilt for choice in Leeds. Three major stores, Jumbo Records, Crash Records, and Relic Records (the latter specialising in vintage vinyl) make up the ‘Vinyl Triangle’, and have attracted music collectors and fans from far and wide for many years. Recently several smaller niche stores have joined them, catering for specific genres.
It would be easy to think then that Leeds has been immune to the continual decline of independent record stores closing down – over 90% have shut in the last 25 years – sadly, this might not be the case for long.
The truth is, although Record Store Day provides a boost in sales and morale for the likes of Jumbo and Crash, all too quickly the convenience of illegal torrent sites and online music outlets such as Amazon and iTunes means we forget about our local stores. What’s more, despite the recent rise in sales of vinyl, which has undoubtedly been something for record stores to latch onto, it remains a somewhat niche product, the demand for which is utterly dwarfed by that of the rapidly downloaded music file.
Like everywhere else, record stores in Leeds have been struggling to stay afloat for some time as fewer and fewer people take the time to frequent them.
After 20 years working in record shops, it’s a story that’s become all too familiar for Jumbo Records’ Matt Bradshaw. He also points out that in recent years, independent stores have been hit especially hard by taxation, as economic conditions tighten and larger corporations somehow manage to avoid paying so heavily. It’s getting hard to keep up, and Matt believes they are lucky to have made it this far.
But why does any of this matter? Because Leeds’ record stores are crucial hubs for the city’s music scene, supporting local talent in a way HMV never would, selling gig tickets and demoes for less well-known newcomers. Because they make up and support Leeds’ local economy and supporting them means preventing another boarded up shop front.
Because the folks working at record stores are passionate about music, and will bend over backwards to help you find what you’re looking for. These people are giving back to music the value that it seems to have lost in recent years.
Part of what makes record stores so great is the people you meet there, so by that token they rely on people to survive, and if no one makes the effort to support what we have in Leeds, it will disappear. Your local indie store is for life, not just for Record Store Day. Now that’s something worth celebrating.
Find and support your local record stores here: