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Record Store Day celebrates physical music buying

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Record Store Day has become something of a holiday for music fans around the world.

And even for some performers.

Detroit's Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will play its third consecutive Record Store Day concert on Saturday, April 19, this time moving to a sold-out Royal Oak Music Theatre. Even though the group isn't doing a special release this year as it has in the past, Josh Epstein says he and partner Daniel Zott still look forward to tapping into the spirit of celebrating independent record stores and physical music product in the digital download age.

"It's the only day I can think of that at all resembles my early childhood, where I would wait in line to get a record that was coming out or concert tickets," explains Epstein. "The whole connection people have with music is so different now than when you used to only be able to get it in record stores and you'd wait in line the day they came out.

"Record Store Day is like that now, people lining up to get these collective things that come out. I think it's kind of cool."

Record Store Day enters its seventh year getting bigger and better than ever, with eight other countries -- the U.K., Canada, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Mexico and Italy -- taking part. Inspired by independent dealers' Free Comic Book Day, the program was founded in 2007 by a coalition of independent music store owners and has annually featured special events and scores of limited-edition, one-day-only releases --many on vinyl -- by both superstar and cult-level artists. Public Enemy's Chuck D is serving as this year's Record Store Ambassador, and lines routinely start forming outside of stores well before doors open.

"It's the biggest day of the year," notes Mike Rome of Oak Park's Street Corner Music, one of metro Detroit's 12 participating Record Store Day merchants. Street Corner will have DJs spinning all day as well as free coffee and record-shaped cookies, and Rome says it's a great chance to remind music fans about the unique experience of going to a store rather than clicking on a mouse.

"I think there's more creativity that goes into it than your typical mass-market CD release," he notes. "To come in and see everybody and share the excitement...it's 20 times better than a download."

Moving 244,000 units, last year's Record Store Day set a high for vinyl album sales since 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan began measuring music sales. Total sales at independent stores jumped 59 percent over the previous week and were up three percent from 2012's Record Store Day. This year more than 450 different titles will be released especially for the event, including Green Day's "Demolicious" collection and R.E.M.'s "Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions," both of which will be mass released next month, Creedence Clearwater Revival's "The 1969 Singles" compiled on a 10-inch disc, the Dave Matthews Band's "Live Trax Vol. 4" vinyl box set, a reissue and more.

Street Corner's Rome, meanwhile, says there's particularly high interest at his store for the reissue of the Doors' "Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine" compilation, Donny Hathaway's "Live at the Bitter End 1971," Ann Arbor singer Mayer Hawthorne's "Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom" single with Shintaro Sakamoto and releases by Devo, Joy Division, Nirvana and the Velvet Underground.

"I know people who nickname it 'Expensive Record Store Day,' " Rome notes with a laugh.

This year's best Record Store Day stunt, meanwhile, comes courtesy of Jack White, the Detroit native who was last year's Record Store Day Ambassador. This year White and his Third Man Records label in Nashville will be trying to set a record for the world's fastest record release from studio to store, recording a live version of a title track from his upcoming solo album, "Lazaretto" on Saturday morning, then rushing it a nearby record pressing plant where it will be pressed and sold by the afternoon.

The recording will be available for one day only, but White has promised that he'll press as many copies as there are fans to buy them on Saturday.

A full list of Record Store Day releases and participating stores can be found at www.recordstoreday.com.

Web Site: www.recordstoreday.com

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