26-year-old Chad Thompson waited patiently in line at Pasadena’s own Canterbury Records, hopeful in grabbing one of the only 15,000 copies in the world of Star Wars: The Force Awakens soundtrack. This special edition vinyl is imprinted with the iconic image of the Millennium Falcon being chased by two Imperial fighters.
“I’m not what you would typically call a record collector,” Thompson said. “But I thought it would be really great to have a limited edition copy of one of my favorite composers.”
The convergence of Star Wars fandom and vinyl-philes might help 2016 outpace last year’s total record sales of $400 million in revenue in 2015. This topped even ad-supported streaming services, which managed to rake in $385 million in the same year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
This past Saturday marked the eighth year of celebrating independent record stores. From the large, all-encompassing Canterbury Records to the more niche, experimental beat-music shops like Poo-Bah Records, Pasadena had you covered no matter what you were looking for.
For almost a decade, the third Saturday of April has been dedicated to the culture of independent record stores and the magic of putting music on wax.
Record Store Day (RSD) was born on April 18, 2008 and conceived a year earlier in a joint effort between record store owners and their employees, a group that often overlaps in the world of an independently owned business.
Over the years what once started as a small list of limited edition and RSD exclusive releases of vinyl records has grown into list stretching hundreds of artists from both independent labels and big name performers.
According to the Record Store Day organization website, 60 percent of RSD exclusives still come from independent artists and labels.
Record collectors and casual listeners with hungry ears lined up at Canterbury and other stores before the doors were even open to snatch up some wax including well over 300 RSD exclusives.
Some of the releases included a special re-release of the late David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World, pressed onto a 12-inch photographic vinyl. Famed Southern rappers Outkast released a unique glow-in-the-dark copy of their album Elevators (Me & You).
Both of the records were limited to 5,000 copies worldwide, making them even more coveted.
Singer-songwriter Dylan Gardner also stopped by Canterbury later in the day to talk to customers and record store supporters and play a couple tracks from his albums.
Ray Brown, a local DJ and record collector, shared a similar sentiment with a lot of the people waiting in line to get in.
“Every day is record store day,” Brown said. “[RSD] is cool, it brings aware to vinyl and the physical medium of music, which is always dope. I’m about it.”
Brown participated in a unique celebration of RSD by visiting an estate sale which was lined to the walls with records.
Not every independent store participated in offering exclusive vinyl records. Atwater Village’s Jacknife Records made clear in an Instagram post on Saturday that it would not be offering special releases, but that if perspective buyers were looking for great music regardless they should drop by.
An ongoing, but small, contention with record store day has been an ever-encroaching effort by big record labels to make a profit on this day as they have seen revenues slowly dwindle over the years due to online purchases and streaming services.
“For me I don’t really care that much,” Brown said. “Independent artists need to be supported no matter what.”
An ongoing tradition for record stores on this particular day is for local or big-name artists to drop by for performances or meet and greets.