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In the Eighties there were 2200 independent record stores in the UK. By 2009 this number had fallen to just 269. The music industry’s changing as the digital world takes over.

And that’s why this year’s seventh Record Store Day, on April 20, is so important. RSD is an annual global event in which independent record stores come together to champion music with a shedload of exclusive releases and gigs.

Berwick Street in Soho, home to the capital’s densest concentration of indie record stores, is the centre of the capital’s RSD events with stores Sister Ray, The Music and Video Exchange and Reckless Records leading the party.

“The street will be closed off for the day and a stage built,” Charles Taylor, Reckless Records owner, tell us of the special event taking place on the famous street. “It’s the first ever festival to take place in Berwick Street!”

Cult rock band Wire will be playing at the event, as will folk-rock troubadour Frank Turner and rising star singer-songwriter Gabrielle Alpin, in what is one of many gigs taking place across the city.

As much a part of RSD though are exclusive, one-day-only releases, and this year has no fewer than 500 special records, DVDs and books from the likes of David Bowie, Paul Weller and Nick Cave set to hit.

“I’m looking forward to hearing Frank Freeman’s Dance Club by Captain Beefheart and Change Becomes Us by Wire,” Taylor says of the records he’s most anticipating.

Record Store Day’s official film, Last Shop Standing: The Rise, Fall And Rebirth Of The Independent Record Shop, based on Graham Jones’ book, will screen on a loop on the street between 12pm and 7pm. Brit Jones will also be on hand for a Q&A at 5pm.

“[Record Stores] have had to diversify and make themselves a meeting place again,” Jones tells us, explaining how London’s indies have had to adapt and what is key to their future prosperity.

“Many now put on events every week, normally a new or local band, and they support the local music scene and local non-music community, too. They also stock more vinyl and stick to products you’re not going to get in the supermarket.”

Today, with multinationals and chains claiming so much of our high streets, independent record stores, and their knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff, are something not just to be cherished, but to be supported, and Record Store Day is an integral part of this.

“There’s a huge amount of extra publicity for record stores,” Taylor says of the impact the day has.

“We’ll see a lot of unfamiliar customers [on the day] who hopefully will keep returning. It’s also an affirmation of the wonderfulness of music and vinyl in particular.”

Or, as Record Store Day’s UK co-ordinator Spencer Hickman says: “April 20th will be a real celebration of culture – and there’s no better place to celebrate than inside an independent record store!” So get down, catch some bands, snag a rare release, and check out our list of London’s best indies.



Record Store Day 2013: London's best record stores - where to buy your vinyl in the capital
Digital Mag

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