Let's make a noise for Record Store Day

Started in the US in 2007, Record Store Day looks to champion those remaining independent music stores still plying their trade in the face of the digital age.

The Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Gorillaz, Adele and Tinie Tempah are just some of the artists supporting the day by putting exclusive releases on sale in participating independent stores on Saturday morning.

With a shift to digital downloads and cheaper online alternatives, it's no real surprise traditional retail sales have declined or even that more than 500 independent stores have closed their doors in the last five years.

The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) says music sales in the UK last year totalled £1.2bn, down 4% on 2009 and that digital revenues now account for 23.4% of the value of the recorded music market, compared with 18.1% last year and just 12.4% in 2009.

Despite this, Spencer Hickman, founder of Rough Trade Records, insists there's cause for optimism for the UK's remaining independents.

"There's a lot of love out there for the old independent record shop," he told the BBC.

"People are waking up to the fact that all towns across the country are becoming identikit, and the small indie retailers are disappearing. They don't want this any more and are finally saying: 'no, enough is enough'."

A resurgence in vinyl sales and albums - digital album sales outstipped singles for the first time last year - is another reason to believe the independents' customer base could return.

While indie stores represent just 2.4% of total music sales, Hickman believes they provide a unique shopping environment music enthusiasts can't replicate online or at the larger high street retailers such as trouble-hit HMV.

"Consumers want to go into a shop and to stand chatting to someone who knows about music.

"They want somewhere where they can go and chat about new bands and labels. Indie shops are perfect for this and Record Store Day is showing that there's still a massive interest."

Good luck to 'em, we say!

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