Record Store Day

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This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.

book.jpgThis Saturday, KCRW's own Gary Calamar, along with journalist Phil Gallo release their first book, Record Store Days. The book chronicles the history of the record store, and the business behind selling music, from its earliest origins to the present. While we can listen to just about anything today with the touch of a mouse, it certainly wasn't always that way. In fact, in the 60's and 70's, the only place you could go to gain deep music knowledge was in an independent record store. Back in those days, clerks broke the shrink-wrap on records just to hear what an album sounded like. No corporate bean counter kept them from acquiring the experience. Encyclopedic music knowledge was the highest badge of honor and it was earned with devout listening.

Stores like Tower on Sunset, Aaron's Records and Rhino understood the magic. The indy record store was a clubhouse for all the misfits who didn't fit in square holes. It was a church. It gave redemption. And it still does.

If you share a passion for the independent record store, this weekend is your time to shine. On Saturday, indy record stores around the country celebrate the unique culture with the third annual Record Store Day.

Record Store Day is when record stores, musicians and fans to come together and salute the art of making, selling and collecting music. In addition to special live performances, stores release collectors' editions of albums, t-shirts and lithographs. Hundreds of stores in the US, Canada and UK are participating in the event. Here in Echo Park, Origami Vinyl will be hosting live performances with Lou Barlow, and Dum Dum Girls starting at 2pm. And at Rhino Records Claremont will be presenting Yo Lo Tango at 3.

For the last decade, music consumers have been migrating from physical CD's to MP3's and Wave files. However while more people switch to a digital format, there's also been a growing population of music lovers who collect vinyl.

These vinyl collectors are growing in number. Sales are up 33% from last year and many labels release new editions of vinyl just for Record Store Day. Independent record stores have found a perfect niche market in selling LP's. Some of the biggest selling titles in vinyl would never make the top 10 in CD sales. Last year, the top 10 of vinyl sales included music from Bon Iver, Iron & Wine and Animal Collective. Some vinyl is actually sold with a free digital download included. Which makes it more understandable that collecting vinyl does not always require a turntable. Strange as it may seem, many vinyl collectors do not own one. Collecting is not always the same as appreciating.

Whether you're a vinyl collector, an indy record store junkie or just a music fan, show some support for the institution you love and visit a record store this Saturday.

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.