Record Store Day is once again taking place in 2021, putting the spotlight on the “unique culture of independent record shops and the art of vinyl”.
It comes at a time when independent outlets have faced uncertainty following months-long closures during the Covid-19 crisis, and will be held during summer months when – touch wood – the experience of visiting your local record shop will be starting to resemble something close to approaching normality.
"The event shines a light on the hard-working music lovers behind the counter who play a key role in championing local music and talent,” say the organisers.
Hundreds of artists and record labels will come together to release exclusive, special and one-off vinyl records which will be available only from participating shops, of which there will be more than 250 taking part across the UK.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What will Record Store Day 2021 look like?
Last year’s Record Store Day was due to take place on 18 April, but was initially postponed to 20 June due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It was eventually held across three separate Saturdays between August and October in a bid to boost sales and ensure social distancing among attendees.
Similarly, this year's event will take on a modified format, although releases will be spread out across just two weekends in 2021.
Saturday 12 June and Saturday 17 July are the dates for 2021’s two Record Store Day “Drops”, and once again, events will be held in line with Government guidance in place at the time to ensure they are conducted in a socially responsible manner.
Joff Oddie from London alt-rockers Wolf Alice, who are taking part in this year’s Record Store Day with a special release, said: “Independent record stores provide a vital and necessary communal space to explore, discuss and share the music that shapes all of our lives.
"Given the bleak year they have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic any support you could show them would be fantastic. The musical world would not be the same without them.”
What is being released this year?
There are hundreds of official Record Store Releases planned from just as many artists as part of this year’s celebrations, and to list them all here
"From Fontaines DC to Miles Davies, to Wolf Alice to Elton John,” say the organisers, “this year’s list of records promises to have something special for every music lover.”
Highlights include the third album from Wolf Alice; the first-time release of Elton John’s ‘Regimental Sgt Zippo’ album, which was intended to be the singer’s debut before he decided against it; and ‘I Do Like To Be B-Side The A-Side Vol 2’ a collection of Madness B-sides from 1982 – 1984.
It’s not just homegrown talent taking part this year, with a plethora of international stars also getting in on the act.
Ariana Grande will be releasing ‘k bye for now’, the pop star’s first ever live album recorded over three shows on her 2019 world tour; a lesser-known acoustic album from the late Prince called ‘The Truth’; and St Vincent’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Piggy’, featuring Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl on drums, no less.
Record Store Day 2021 will also see a re-release of The Clash’s ‘If Music Could Talk’, a 1981 promo album featuring interviews and music from ‘Sandinista!’; a compilation of Amy Winehouse remixes featuring contributions from Jay-Z and Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah; and Lady Gaga’s ‘Chromatica’ released on deluxe yellow vinyl, among many others.
For a list of all the releases coming with Drop 1 (12 June), click here
For a list of all the releases coming with Drop 2 (17 July), click here
Has vinyl been popular during lockdown?
Louise Jackson, who opened Wax & Beans Records in Bury in 2019, said “We cannot wait for RSD this year! After the rollercoaster of a year everyone has had, it's so refreshing to be able to look forward to such a successful and fun event."
Last year, as consumers turned to the format during the coronavirus pandemic, vinyl sales grew to their highest level since the Britpop era, when bands such as Blur and Oasis dominated the charts.
According to figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), 4.8 million vinyl albums were purchased in the UK in 2020, up nearly a tenth on sales in the previous year, and the 13th consecutive year of growth for the format since 2007.
If that trend continues, record labels will make more money from vinyl than CDs in 2021, for the first time since 1987.
"The whole event is now so well embraced by our local community,” added Jackson. “[Last year] we saw many of our regular customers meet with plenty of new faces, with friendships being made.”