Published Mar 31, 2015The annual Record Store Day has attracted plenty of criticism in the last few years, and arguably for good reason. Pressing plants are now backed up for months so they can crank out exclusive releases that end up in bargain bins, many of which are released by major labels who have little invested in independent music. A RSD rep pleaded with critics to "give us a break" earlier this month, and now music giant Universal has chimed in with its own response.
The label's UK division shared a post on its website called "Who wins from Record Store Day?" and if you've ever tried to press a record in the face of the RSD backlog, be warned — some of their statements might make you do a coffee spit-take.
"Until a few weeks ago it seemed everyone in the music industry thought Record Store Day, the eight-year-old celebration of the UK's hundreds of indie music shops, was a great idea," the letter opens, ignoring the many other detractors who have brought up concerns about the event for the last few years.
The letter then includes an interview with Marc Fayd'Herbe, Universal's independent sales manager who works with indie shops like Rough Trade and Piccadilly. "I have worked with indies for 25 years and RSD has been the single best thing that has ever happened to the indies. We should never forget that," he said. "We have supported RSD from the beginning. A few years ago stores were begging us to bring out stuff. Now we have brought out a nice raft of releases, some people are saying 'oh they want to take over.'"
Fayd'Herbe also defended the involvement of larger acts like Mumford & Sons, saying, "Mumford just want to be part of it. They have a big alliance with the indies because they did Rough Trade PAs when they first started off and now they want to plough something back in."
All of this echoes the earlier statements from RSD rep Kim Bayley, who argued that the event actually helps indie labels.
"Of course, because indie record shops disproportionately support independent labels, indie labels are among the biggest winners from RSD," she insisted. "While media coverage inevitably focuses on superstar acts often signed to major labels, in fact three out of four RSD releases are on indie labels. That's hardly a 'betrayal' of indies."
Like it or not, Record Store Day returns for its eighth edition on April 18. You can see all the releases up for grabs here.