Record Store Day Plans Rolling 'Drop' Dates to Navigate Pandemic Shutdowns

With music shops around the world struggling with coronavirus lockdowns, the organizers of Record Store Day announced Wednesday that they’ll spread out the annual event over a number of months. Dates in late summer and fall will replace the previously announced dates, which had been moved as cities started announcing stay-at-home orders.

The LPs that organizers announced this past spring will now come out on August 29th, September 26th, and October 24th. Record Store Day will release a new version of what it has dubbed “The List,” detailing when each of the planned records will be coming out, on June 1st via RecordStoreDay.com.

Planners said the rolling release dates was a means to start generating revenue for imperiled stores. In their announcement, they said the tiered release date system “gives the largest number of stores a chance to participate in the strangest Record Store Day ever, following their local mandates, and using the guidance of government and scientific experts to make these RSD Drop dates socially responsible as possible.”

Record Store Day’s Black Friday event is still scheduled for November 27th, and organizers hope things return to normal by next April, when they can have their regularly planned event.

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Launched in 2008, Record Store Day has become record stores’ biggest annual payday, with labels putting out numerous exclusive releases. The inaugural “Black Friday” edition, held the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., took place two years later.

Earlier this month, half a dozen record stores around the United States told Rolling Stone about how local coronavirus-related shutdowns were affecting their livelihood. Some stores worried they wouldn’t make it through a lengthy shutdown, though others were more optimistic. Grimey’s in Nashville got an unexpected helping hand from Taylor Swift, who donated money to keep them afloat for up to three months.

The CEO of Zia Record Exchange, an indie chain in Arizona and Las Vegas, said a shutdown like this wasn’t insurmountable. “I think the number-one thing that gives me hope is the history of [record stores in trouble],” Zia’s Jarrett Hankinson said. “Yes, it’s scary, but our business is scary. It’s always volatile. It’s always a challenge. It’s thrilling. It’s exciting. But ultimately, that’s what keeps me going. Our company has survived for 40 years, and we’ve endured quite a bit, and we’ll be able to endure this. It just depends on when.”

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