Thirteen years ago, Record Store Day was created as an opportunity to bring the record community together. However, being “together” is a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why the organizers of RSD opted for three socially distant drops this fall rather than the one big event in April. The first of the RSD 2020 trio went down this past Saturday, August 29, and the numbers are in: People bought a lot of records, proving that this community can still come together safely, virtually, and enthusiastically.
Orders and vinyl purchases on Discogs over the first Record Store Day weekend were up in 2020 compared to past years. Discogs saw 60,571 orders last weekend compared to 42,929 in 2019, a 41.1% increase. This translates to even more individual records: 78,680 sold in 2020 so far, up 47.12% from 53,481 sold in 2019. Keep in mind that we’re comparing the first weekend of three planned drops in 2020 with the single weekend that has defined RSD since its inception.
“The tricky part with RSD was going to be the line. I’m happy to report that the line was very manageable and moved quicker than any other RSD prior, mainly owing to our checklist instead of browsing system. We strongly believe that holding a record in your hand helps seal the deal, but not during a still raging pandemic We got lots of great feedback on the new system, especially since it was a rainy day and people were happy to get in the store quicker. There were also some giveaways on the line which broke up the waiting and generally a positive vibe with appropriate social distancing.
“When our website went live with product at 5 p.m. it was immediately overwhelmed and crashed, much like Amoeba and other stores. By 6:30 we were fully operational, and the second wave of sales began to pour in. We saw heavy traffic on the site the next couple days clamoring up after our RSD stock. Our team rallied around mail order for the whole following week and managed to pump out 3,828 packages!!! A killer group effort I’m very proud of!” George @ Rough Trade in New York City
We think the surge in RSD action is due in part to two different trends: 1) shops were allowed to list RSD inventory directly online for the first time ever and 2) people are buying a lot of records in 2020 despite the challenges that have surfaced this year.
First, RSD online. In addition to the three distinct drops to help with social distancing, RSD organizers also permitted store owners to list stock online — whether through their own web store, Discogs, or another site — to help shoppers who couldn’t come in-person and shops that couldn’t open their physical locations due to COVID-19. In previous years, online shoppers would have to wait for people looking to “flip” albums in the Discogs Marketplace. Now, sellers can list their RSD stock direct to Discogs and collectors can purchase straight from their favorite local shop.
“We weren’t sure what to think about how turn out would be and thus probably under-ordered what we really could have sold based on number of people here. And still were able to do the numbers we did. We probably could have spent about 25% more and still sold out of most of what we had. Overall across all locations; we sold about 85% of our stock. If the momentum carries through September/October, we expect sales for all three to exceed a normal April RSD, which would help make up for being closed two months in April/May and get us back on track to last year’s sales.” – Luke @ Josey Records in Dallas, Kansas City, Tulsa, and Lubbock
“We started listing our leftover RSD bits, mainly did it from my phone, and went pretty crazy — 60% of what I listed sold. It was great, a different Discogs vibe — live, list, and sell! The 6 p.m. on the day selling rule from RSD has really worked this year (normally UK shops have to wait one week before going online) — stops the eBay flipping and crazy prices, although I guess that’s going on a bit. Lots of people listing the RSD bits at £50 on Discogs; we were listing at retail price or just above to cover fees (eg: £26.99) as we should do as an RSD shop.” Aidy @ Vinyl Underground in Northhampton, England
“As far as RSD Saturday, we remained closed and chose to do all of our RSD sales through our website; we were trying to avoid the massive lines we typically get for Record Store Day, and by selling through our site, we accomplished that goal. Sales went great; we sold the majority of our Record Store Day stock within the first 20 minutes. The few items that remain are actually currently listed on Discogs but hopefully not for long.” Ron @ Going Underground Records in Los Angeles, California
Second, people are buying tons of records, and not just RSD releases. So far this year, Discogs has witnessed a massive increase in vinyl sales. Over 5.8 million records were sold between January and June, which is up 33.73% compared to the same period in 2019, according to our recently released 2020 Mid-Year Report. In fact, the first half of 2020 has been the best six-month stretch we’ve ever seen on our site.
People aren’t just picking up records through Discogs, though. As reported in Nielsen and MRC Data’s mid-year report, 9.2 million vinyl records were sold across the U.S., which is an 11.2% increase over 2019. Most importantly, the shop owners we chatted with enjoyed direct sales through their store.
“Overall, great success! It was the best RSD we could’ve hoped for in the midst of a global pandemic! We put a lot of work into planning and prep and all our customers were completely patient and well-behaved. It felt good to host RSD again and help loads of people go home with the records their hearts desired.” Lolo @ Sweat Records in Miami, Florida.
“It was great for us, man! It was our first day open to the public since mid-March. It went surprisingly well and everyone was super respectful and patient. Between our in-store sales and online, we moved through 3,550 RSD releases, which was almost a 97% sell-through for us. We didn’t end up moving anything to Discogs because our website stayed so busy. In fact, I had to turn off a bunch of eBay and Discogs stuff as our shipping team is completely overwhelmed. Good problems!” Bob @ Plaid Room Records in Loveland, Ohio
“Great foot traffic. We only sold a few RSD items on Discogs later in the day to test some things. Our normal Discogs business spiked though, doubling in orders from our recent average.” Mike @ Silver Platters in Seattle, Washington
And guess what? Record Store Day isn’t over! If this is the heat that Discogs and store owners felt in the first round in August, we can only anticipate even more record-breaking sales on September 26 and October 24.
When you’re ready to start prepping for parts two and three of RSD 2020, we’ve got you covered:
- Where to find all RSD releases on Discogs.
- How to make the most of RSD online.
- A growing list of Black-owned record stores.
- Tips for opening your record store during the pandemic.
- And, just for fun, here are the priciest RSD releases of all time.