As expected, Record Store Day, which was already postponed from its original April 18 date because of the coronavirus crisis, will not be happening on the announced makeup date, June 20, either. Instead, the 400-some exclusive releases planned for RSD are being pushed back and parceled out to three dates this fall — Aug. 29, Sept. 26 and Oct. 24, which are being branded as “RSD Drops” events, sans the parties and in-store shows that typically accompany a normal Record Store Day.
The breakup of one big day into three smaller ones acknowledges that social distancing guidelines may be enforced on shops as states gradually allow them to reopen in the months to come.
“Prior events have been as much about the gatherings, parties, concerts and ‘group hang’ element of a celebration as the special releases,” RSD organizers said in a statement, “but in this unprecedented global situation, the focus of these ‘RSD Drops’ dates is on bringing revenue to the stores, as well as to the artists, labels, distribution and every other business behind the scenes making record stores work.”
On top of that, the other semi-annual RSD event, Record Store Day Black Friday, is still scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27. If shops are indeed able to open and no further delays or cancellations are necessary, that’ll mean four monthly Record Store Day events in a row this fall.
While that might feel like an overload to some, this imperfect solution looks to take a load off stores that couldn’t handle big crowds convening for a singular event, and to still provide an outlet — albeit a peculiarly staggered outlet — for artists and labels that now more than ever need the income from hundreds of releases that were pressed up and ready to go for the April date. For retailers that are able to open, the dispersal could offer customers repeated incentive to visit amid what is likely to be a paucity of new physical releases in the fall, with pressing plants currentlyinactive.
As for which of the planned April 2020 releases will be coming out on which of the three fall replacement dates, that will be revealed on June 1 when an updated list of product is released along with the corresponding days they’ll come out.
Labels and artists have been taking a wait-and-see approach toward what to do with what would have been April releases. A few smaller imprints or acts that had a more urgent need to get a return on their investment have already put their RSD-slated releases into the marketplace. A compromise was struck on one of two highly anticipated David Bowie archival releases that was scheduled for RSD in April, “ChangesNowBowie”: it got a digital release on that weekend, but the LP is still being held back.
Among the more coveted releases previously set for April that have been in a holding pattern are a Billie Eilish acoustic live album, a previously unreleased David Bowie 1974 live album and, sadly, a John Prine boxed set that was announced before anyone could have imagined that coronavirus would fell the singer before its release.
Left uncertain is whether all states will be allowing non-essential retail to be open even by late August, and assuming they do, whether all the record stores that normally take part will have survived the months of lockdown without income.
One store that definitely will not be taking part in August is Amoeba Music in Los Angeles, which is believed to do the highest volume of any single RSD-participating location. The store, which started a GoFundMe drive to help stay in business, announced this week that it is concentrating all its efforts on making a move to a new locale that was previously announced for October, and will not reopen in its current Hollywood location before that, regardless of whether a lockdown is lifted. Store owners added that, because of their unusually large size that draws more than a million customers a year, they believe they fall into a higher-risk category that would prevent the Hollywood store from reopening under the next phase of the governor’s four-phase plan.