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Record Store Day 2011

Greg Simmons By

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Is April 15th—Tax Day, for Americans—a painful experience? Well, Saturday April 16th, 2011 has the antidote, at least for music lovers. It's been designated Record Store Day to promote the unique culture, and the experience of buying music from local, independently owned record stores. Brick and mortar shops all over the United States—virtually all mom- and-pop establishments—will be opening early, running specials, and selling limited edition albums pressed just for the occasion.

Record stores are important to a column like Forgotten Finds, which covers older and sometimes obscure releases by lesser-known artists. Without these establishments, finding music would be a lot more difficult, and a lot less enjoyable. A shrinking market for physical media—CDs and records—has reduced the profile of stores and, in far too many cases, driven them out of business. Record Store Day is an opportunity for fans to support important local music resources and promote locally owned businesses.

For the dinosaurs (author's inclusionary disclaimer) who remember when local record stores were dominant, this is a chance to reconnect with what used to be the only way to acquire music. Many old-time owners knew their customers by name, shared musical interests and could guide listeners towards enlightened discoveries. The record store was a place to hang out, meet friends, and enjoy yourself. Record stores helped to make music fans a community, rather than simply an accounts receivable commodity.

In some music stores it's still like that, and Record Store Day is a reminder that the pursuit and camaraderie of music are fun activities on their own.

Participants include some of the most famous record stores in America, including The Princeton Record Exchange in New Jersey, Austin, Texas' Antone's Record Shop, and Bay Area icon, Amoeba Music. The legendary Jazz Record Mart in Chicago will feature live performances by jazz trumpeter Josh Berman.

The Attic, in Pittsburgh, which specializes in new releases, and a bazillion old, vinyl albums, will be opening its doors at midnight and staying open for twenty-four hours. Eager listeners could hit the store, get some tunes, and make it back to the bar before closing—or to an early breakfast, depending on taste and ambition.

For today's web-based fans—those of you who've completely adopted the new technology, or perhaps have never known anything else—this is a chance to discover the pleasure of holding and reading the notes on a full-sized twelve- inch record cover, or even digging out interesting CDs by artists you've never heard of. Record stores are a great place to discover forgotten but fantastic music.

But what's that? You don't think there are any locally owned music stores near you? Well the folks promoting the event have made it easy for you to look for local merchants with a handy website. Simply enter your state and city and a list will magically appear. It's faster and easier than downloading, and it's free.

With over 700 participating, locally owned shops, chances are there's at least one shop within driving distance of anyone in a major metropolitan area. Supporting your local music merchant can help ensure that they remain right where they are: selling new and used music treasures to eager fans. This is an important event for anyone who loves and wants to support music and the merchants who make it availables.

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