Just how big was Record Store Day last weekend for Homer’s. Let’s just say sales were at “historic” levels, said Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt. “We are extremely thankful for all the customer support and all the excitement they create,” he said. “It’s very enjoyable to see fans come out in such large numbers.”
RSD has become a marketing phenomenon of unequaled proportions. The only thing you can compare it to is, say, Black Friday or when Apple launches a new iPhone. It’s huge, not only for Homer’s but for every independent record store in the country. “But with that comes considerable risk as purchases of RSD exclusive product can amount to tens of thousands of dollars, and it’s all sold one way. No returns,” Fratt said. “It is amazing how big an event Record Store Day has become, and it continues to spread internationally. Europe, Asia, South America, Australia. And the indies did this. It dominates Google trends in the week prior, is covered by all major media, and generates positive karma for music and the music business.”
To give you an idea of the enormity for Homer’s: “We brought in more product this year than the last three years combined,” Fratt said. “(It) freaked us out how much we bought, but it turned out well. We sold 66 percent of what we brought in, and have been able to reload on some titles we sold out of since then.”
Among the huge sellers was The Flaming Lips’ Heady LP, which Fratt said not only sold out quickly in Omaha, but sold enough copies that it would have charted in the top 40 on the Billboard charts, and we’re talking about a vinyl release. The key phrase in the last sentence is “would have,” because Fratt said Soundscan somehow didn’t properly report sales on RSD.
“Soundscan showed many cities reported none (of the Lips record) sold (including in Omaha), although we sold all 30 of ours,” Fratt said. “In LA, Soundscan showed just 183 sold when all stores there reported selling all they had, which would have sent the number into the hundreds. Soundscan showed sales in Detroit of negative 400.” Yeah, you read that right.
“Not only did it damage reporting on the three or four titles that would have hit the charts, it also ends up unreporting total impact of RSD, by probably enough to push overall weekly sales up another percent or two — a significant achievement on the part of the indie sector.”
It’s a fuck-up literally of national proportions at a time when the record industry — and indie music stores — can ill afford one. But was Soundscan’s misreporting just a one-time thing or a symptom of a systemic problem? Fratt said the indie music coalition is meeting in LA next week to address the problem. “We are not only concerned about RSD, but ongoing reporting errors,” Fratt said. “Could this loss of reporting move the total national year to date sales up 1 or 2 percent? That is significant if true. No one really knows yet.”
Regardless, there’s no denying that last weekend was wildly successful. Cold hard cash does not lie. “The Indie Retail community saw a 40% increase from last week,” Fratt said. “The overall business conditions were up 3% from last week – which is cool because mass merchants were about even and digital scans were down about 4%.” If that isn’t proof that vinyl is making an impact, nothing is.
While I have your attention, Fratt wanted to pass along some upcoming special events at his store, including in-store performances by My Darkest Days on May 22 and Tech n9ne on May 27, along with listening parties for Beach House and Best Coast May 14 and Sigor Ros May 28.
* * *
Briefly… I am a sucker for ’80s electronic music a la Factory Records bands such as Joy Division and New Order. So last night’s show at The Waiting Room clearly was right up my alley.
Opening band Part Time set the mood with a micro-set that lasted less than a half hour. So shortcthat it was hard to absorb what they were doing on stage. Add to that the fact that they seemed to just want to get it over with didn’t help matters.
They were followed by Craft Spells, who sounded like, well, a cross between New Order and Joy Division. It was all there in the oh so familiar guitar lines, synth parts and up-tempo rhythm section that was straight off of Brotherhood. It’s one thing to be derivative of a style, it’s another to wholly embody it. There’s no question what these guys were trying to do, and they did it well, though I couldn’t tell you a word of what the frontman was mumbling into the microphone during their short set. I can tell you they were the best band on stage last night.
Here I was thinking I might get home by 11, but The Drums put on a long, if not adventureless, performance. With a sound that undoubtedly has its origins in the ’80s, it hinted at something slightly more modern (as in The Strokes). Blond frontman Jonny Pierce spent most of the set sashaying around the darkened stage vocally emulating Bono. In fact, their music tried to harken back to very early U2, but lacked that band’s anthemic hubris.
Watching Pierce skip and sway through his set without engaging the audience made me remember what made Bono such an incredible frontman back in U2′s glory days — he brought his audience along with him on every song. He was mesmerizing, nearly confrontational, determined to make everyone in the audience care about what he was singing about. Pierce could have been singing words out of a telephone book, which is a shame because The Drums lyrics deserve more effort than that.
* * *
Snake Island headlines a show tonight at The Waiting Room with Lightning Bug, Dim Light and Swamp Walk. $5, 9 p.m.
* * *
Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.