According to Record Store Day co-founder Michael Kurtz, Fin Brown, the son of Record Store Day visionary Chris Brown, may have said it best: "For religion, we have Christmas, but for music, we have Record Store Day."
Music's annual worldwide party, Record Store Day, is set to take place April 21 at independent record stores around the world. But before music lovers seeking to snag one of the many limited-edition releases, or take in one of the various live performances happening at record stores around the country, GRAMMY.com has your exclusive interview with two of the principals behind Record Store Day and independent music retail — Kurtz and Amoeba Music co-owner Marc Weinstein.
Kurtz discussed the beginnings of Record Store Day, including early artist participants such as Paul McCartney and Metallica, some of this year's exclusive releases, and the evolution of Record Store Day at, among other topics, at Amoeba Music in Hollywood, Calif.
"In the end we decided to call it Record Store Day because that was something that everybody could relate to," says Kurtz. "Metallica were the first band to say, 'We love it.' … And then Paul McCartney sent us an email … saying it reawakened his love of record stores. When we got the email from him, we knew we were onto something. And it just exploded from there."
Today, one of the main highlights of Record Store Day is artist participation, from exclusive limited-edition releases to live in-store performances. This year the Flaming Lips will release an exclusive two-disc vinyl package, limited to 10,000 copies, of The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends, the first-ever album recorded specifically for Record Store Day. The album includes collaborations with Bon Iver, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Ke$ha, among others. A limited amount of releases contain the actual blood of some of the project's collaborators, perhaps as a metaphor of how much of themselves artists put into their craft. Additional Record Store Day exclusives included releases by Arcade Fire, David Bowie, the Civil Wars, Foster The People, Buddy Guy, Paul McCartney, Metallica, and Katy Perry, among others.
"What [frontman Wayne Coyne is] doing is creating something really unique and it sends the message [that] this is made by real people," says Kurtz. "He's epitomized what Record Store Day is about."
With Amoeba Music housing hundreds of thousands of vinyl LPs, Weinstein shared a similar sentiment: Record Store Day celebrates music as it was meant to be celebrated — as a form of art.
"[Record stores are] a place to express your passion about music that is unlike anything else in the world," says Weinstein. "In order for people to go experience visual art, they have to go to a museum … it's a place people can go to really express how much they love art. … To me, that's what a record store always was [and] always should be. And Amoeba kind of makes that a real part of who we are."
Launched in 2007 as a means for music fans worldwide to celebrate the unique culture of independently owned record stores, Record Store Day takes place on the third Saturday in April each year. Record stores and artists come together to celebrate the art of music with special vinyl and CD releases and various exclusive promotional products, as well as live performances. This year's Record Store Day Ambassador is Iggy Pop.
Founded in 1990, Amoeba Music has emerged as one of the largest independent record store chains in the United States, with three California locations in Berkeley, Hollywood, Calif., and San Francisco. Renowned for its diverse selection, from Top 40 to underground rock, hip-hop, soul, electronica, and world music, in 2010 Amoeba Music was named one of the best record stores in the United States by Rolling Stone. In addition to housing its own record label, Amoeba Records, Amoeba Music administers initiatives such as Home Grown, a program highlighting local independent music.