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Feature: The Importance of Record Store Day by Jon Tolley (Banquet Records)

Tomorrow music fans around the world will be celebrating a special day, Record Store Day. Its the one day of the year where the music buying community stands proud and is rewarded by bands/labels by releasing something special and rare. While for independent stores its a celebration for standing strong and still existing in the age of piracy and illegal downloading. In addition it gives stores like Banquet Records to give back to its customers with special, one-off releases. They do this because like their customers, they really care about supporting music thus creating a close community feel.

Alter The Press! asked to the owner of Banquet Records, Jon Tolley to tell us why Record Store Day is important and what it means to Banquet Records.

"Did you see that NME blog entitled “Why I Don't Care About Record Store Day”?

I thought it was embarrassing to the NME. An incredibly poorly written article, from someone who sounds like he isn’t informed enough to be a voice on such a thing. The one good thing about it tho was the amount of disagreement on it from every level of the music world. The positive words on record stores and physical releases in general were passionate and spontaneous. A great sight.

We’re not anti-downloading, we’re just pro physical releases. Of course downloading exists today in a way it didn’t 2 years ago, 5 years ago and certainly ten years ago. I’ve been working here for well over a decade. I remember us selling tapes, before they were a novelty idea. I remember people telling us CDs would never catch on. Then people telling us vinyl was dead. I’ve always said that we don’t need to know what the future holds necessarily as long as, as a business we can adapt to it. There’s a couple of things that have remained true tho throughout the music world’s constant and necessary, evolution. 1) The passion and desire of music fans. 2) The importance of the record store.

The record store can evolve, and its role can change. But good record stores are, and always should be, a valued resource in a music community. The can act as a focal point in the area. A way to discover new bands, new scenes, new friends, new records. Record stores can aid musicians and record labels, and of course we only exist if we’re also helping music fans. The cliché you’ll hear me say a lot is that it is our business because we care about music. Not the other way around. This whole 15 person company is entirely made up of music fans, and its always been the case. It means the company is entirely driven by music-lead interests. It means we can stock releases others might not have heard of. It means we can put on our fave bands at local shows, have some rad instores, help out customers or the wider community in general. Yes, high street stores are facing tough times, across the land. But in a sometimes faceless internet society, where fads come and go quicker than they ever did before, the role of the independent record store is as important as it ever was. Each independent store is, by its very nature, independent to each other. It means you can shop with and appreciate different aspects of many different stores. That’s the way it should be.

Record Store Day is an appreciation of such record stores (duh!) and their role in their local community. What started out a few years back as an okay idea but pretty poorly, has turned into a phenomenal success. Some key players, like Spencer of Rough Trade have certainly been fundamental in this success, but a main catalyst in recent times has been the number of bands and more high profile figures who’ve gotten involved. The Blur record from last years RSD made news in the daily national newspapers and BBC, not just the NME and drownedinsound. Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and the like showed that arena playing bands haven’t forgotten where they’ve come from.

In recent times the punk/alt world particularly have been active in combining the art of recorded music with the art of physical releases. The amount of innovation with the release of great records (Paper + Plastick for example are especially great at some amazing art-work with their LPs), CDs (Johnny Foreigner’s new CD is a CD and frisbee!) and even physical and download ideas, is a hive of creativity. For Record Store Day, bands and labels have been excited to put out limited runs of singles / albums and the like, just to help and to celebrate independent record stores. The punk/alt community has always been this way inclined. The emphasis on producing something that people want to have and to hold and making a demand for releases is what drives this success. Its not about trying to prohibit illegal downloading, its all about making something that people are excited to be able to purchase.

Banquet is, more than many stores, particularly involved with the live shows side of music. But first and foremost we are a record store. We are a record store every day of the year. But you can think of this as something like Mothers Day perhaps. You love your mum all year round, but on this one particular day, we show a special appreciation. RSD11 at Banquet is all about celebrating what we, and hundreds of other indie stores do all year round.. Its about stocking great product you cant get on Amazon or in Asda. Its about knowing what customers are after and being able to help them. Its about appreciating bands, appreciating labels, appreciating music communities. The buzz in the store is electric already. Saturday will be insane… Bring it on!"

Information about Record Store Day at Banquet Records can be found here.

Visit for more information on RSD and where you can find your nearest Record Store.

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