THOUSANDS of music lovers queued outside local shops yesterday to celebrate international Record Store Day.
The seventh annual event saw 240 local shops host in-store performances for vinyl music fans. More than 600 exclusive vinyl releases also went on sale for one day only, by artists including One Direction, Elbow, Damon Albarn, Green Day, Jake Bugg, Paul Weller, Nirvana and David Bowie.
Among those taking part was Ian Rankin, one of Scotland’s most prominent cheerleaders for the independent music scene, who believes the iTunes generation is increasingly “moving back” to the reassuring crackle of turntables and buying albums on vinyl.
Speaking yesterday, the Inspector Rebus author said that although the format accounts for a “tiny percentage” of overall music sales every year, it is enjoying a surge in popularity as people crave physical copies of their music rather than relying on digital downloads.
The 53-year-old, a vinyl aficionado who has sworn by the same Linn turntable since 1988, said that although there were fewer record shops than ever in the capital it remained home to a vibrant music scene.
Since it began as a grassroots project in Baltimore in 2007, Record Store Day day has become a global phenomenon, uniting local retailers the world over in the face of the challenge posed by digital downloads and piracy.
The independent scene in Scotland has been forced to weather the same storm, with varying success. Whereas many stores continue to enjoy thriving customer bases, others have been forced to vacate their premises, such as Avalanche in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket and Echo Records in Glasgow’s west end.
“The shame is in Edinburgh we’ve only got half the music shops we used to have, if that, and a lot of the ones that are left are predominantly second-hand rather than new,” Rankin said. “People are tending to buy on the internet and download music rather than buying physical products.
“But I think we’re seeing a move back to people wanting a tangible thing. They want something they pick up and hold and look at the artwork and take it out the sleeve.
“Vinyl is still a tiny percentage of overall music sales but it is growing in popularity, and there is a profit to be made on it so record shops are obviously very keen to get involved.”
He added: “One of the nice things last year was there were more record decks sold at Christmas time than CD players, so it looks like vinyl might stick the last nail in the coffin of CDs.”
Rankin took part in a Q&A yesterday at Edinburgh’s Voxbox store with Simon Goddard, the author of Simply Thrilled: The Preposterous Story Of Postcard Records, the label which was home to bands like Orange Juice and Aztec Camera.
As well as the VoxBox event – which includes live performances from a host of bands - Edinburgh record shops such as Underground Solu’shn and Coda Music will be staging live gigs. In Glasgow, Love Music, Monorail and Mixed Up Records will also be home to performances and DJ sets.
Fans also took the opportunity to buy some rarities and special editions. David Bowie released a 7-inch picture disc of his 1972 track, Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide, while Nirvana’s Pennyroyal Tea – originally withdrawn as a single – was issued, marking its first release on vinyl since the 1990s.
Paul Weller also offered a 7-inch record featuring two new tracks – A Brand New Toy and Landslide – with Public Enemy’s classic It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back re-released as an “explicit version”.
Some of Scotland’s best known bands were among the 600 artists taking part in events. Glasgow trio Chvrches plan to reissue their Recover single as a 12-inch, limited to 2,300 copies, while Camera Obscura released the Session EP, a live recording made at a recent hometown show at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre.