Record Store Day Co-Founder Michael Kurtz on How Independent Artists Can Use Record Store Day – We All Make Music

Record Store Day Co-Founder Michael Kurtz on How Independent Artists Can Use Record Store Day

The following post was written by Kate Findlay-Shirras.

To many participants and onlookers, Record Store Day is a really big deal. On one day every year, thousands of music fans across the country have a perfect excuse to glut themselves on vinyl, buy limited edition releases, and generally revel in the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of going to a record store again.

And to Michael Kurtz, one of Record Store Day’s founders, that celebration is the main point. ““I came out of a time when rock ‘n’ roll was a lot of fun,” Kurtz recalls. “A lot of parties…a lot of blowing shit up, and Record Store Day was just an excuse to throw a party again.”

It is also, like most events that draw real music enthusiasts, a unique promotional opportunity for bands.

Share the Enthusiasm
No matter where you happen to live, Record Store Day offers a unique opportunity to associate yourself with people who are genuinely passionate about music.

“I think it’s the first open source event of its kind,” Kurtz says, “in that people will get involved in it because it’s something that they want to do.”

Unlike the people you’ll find out at some gigs, or the people you’ll meet at stereotypical networking events, the people participating in Record Store Day events are there because they want to be, making it an excellent place to learn about what’s going on locally, and what your neighbors are really into.

Reinvent the Wheel
“We wish we could wave a wand and we could make everybody connect with all the great bands,” Kurtz admits. But the reality is that labels and promoters put out all kinds of amazing releases every year, and for independent artists participating, “it’s about creating something that’s really compelling.”

In other words, the quirkier, and more innovative approaches to RSD are the most remembered, and in that way, the most successful. “People get really creative with these kinds of things,” he continues. Last year, the reissue-loving label Light in the Attic released a limited run of 7” singles with perforated tickets attached. Those ticket stubs doubled as entry to a show being held that evening.

List Nationally, Buzz Locally
Pressing, shipping and distributing a run of vinyl across the country is expensive. Though Record Store Day has a manufacturing partner, Furnace Manufacturing, which gives good pricing and priority on pressing to RSD participants, it’s probably outside the scope of most independent acts to try and get their releases into the hundreds of stores that participate in RSD every year.

“If somebody says to us, ‘I’ve got this record, but nobody’s heard of them, because they’re just brand new. They’ve just recorded for the first time, and they want to put out a vinyl for RSD,’” Kurtz says, “we will tell them, ‘Go old school. Go regional, really try to blow it up in your own town, and create a buzz!’”

Have Your Own Party!
Ultimately, Record Store Day is an exceptional opportunity to meet and collaborate with other artists in a festive atmosphere. It is free to be involved in, and like the salad days Kurtz remembers, it’s supposed to be a good time.

“That’s kind of why I got involved in it,” Kurtz says, “and why I’m still so passionate about it now.”

It’s also supposed to be inclusive. In all of the years that Kurtz and the rest of the founders have been involved, the mutual excitement about participating in record store day has led to everybody coming out ahead. “99.9% of the time,” Kurtz says, when asked how often he’s liked the RSD-related proposals he’s been pitched, “it’s like ‘Awesome! High-five!’

“That’s kinda how it comes together.”