The aim of Record Store Day is to bring music enthusiasts and collectors of physical recorded formats together in a celebration of independent music retail. Over its ten year duration, RSD has grown to become a worldwide event, with some of the biggest bands on the planet releasing limited edition releases specifically for sale on the day, the majority of which are guaranteed to sell out immediately. It is the biggest trading day of the year for most stores, and something akin to Christmas for record buyers. More than simply about moving units, many stores choose to celebrate the day by putting on in-store performances and using the opportunity to highlight local acts and the community in their locality or area of expertise. So as Record Stores around the world gear up for the tenth anniversary of Record Store Day, Mixdown has teamed up with Audio-Technica to chat with some of Australia’s most iconic stores about their history, community and being an independent retailer in the current retail climate.
Since 1995 Beatdisc Records has been serving Sydney’s West with deep punk cuts and local releases, helping to foster and sustain the underground scene. In that part of Sydney it’s the only true record store still in existence; while riding the waves of the CD boom and the vinyl revival, and hosting some of the city’s most epic in-store shows, it has been fuelled, throughout, by a vibrant local music community. As Pete Curnovic, the store’s owner says, it’s the personal connections developed through Beatdisc that have been central to its longevity. In November Beatdisc celebrated 10 years since they first opened their doors for in-store shows. With a reputation for showcasing blistering local talent and the odd international set, in-store’s continue to be a large part of the shop’s music-invested, scene-devoted identity.
“It’s very important, and I think that’s where we built the community from,” says Curnovic. “A lot of people have met through the shows that we do and bands have formed from that, we’ve always had a good punk rock following. Some of my best mates that I hang out with all the time have come from owning or working in the shop. I’m good friends with Andy who runs Poison City, so almost every year we’ve done a secret show with one of the American bands that have played [Poison City Weekender]. One of the US bands that’s played here [is] called Pity Sex. There was I think, 90 people here, which was just incredible for a band that we sell heaps of records [for]. To have them play here in Western Sydney was just really special. Punk rock has always been vinyl related as well, so our new vinyl grew from that. And you always had second hand stuff coming through - your 70s and 80s rock.
We get told almost weekly that our prices are really good and we’ve always tried to be very reasonable, so I think that has something to do with [it]. We’re still excited about the music we stock, the music we put out and the vinyl we put out on the racks.”
Beatdisc are located at Shop 11, Queensland Arcade, 181 Church Street, Parramatta, NSW. For more information visit beatdisc.com.au.
Located just minutes from trendy Chapel St, Greville Records have been in their Prahran location in Melbourne for more than 30 years, and in that time they’ve seen pretty much all there is to see in the record collecting world. The store is something of an institution, servicing a neighbourhood that’s gone through some significant changes since it first opened up, when the area was only just on the brink of gentrification. Thrown a lifeline by the recent upwards swing in vinyl sales, Greville are now finding that their store is regularly filled with new customers, something they say is a welcome change.
“It’s fun because it’s not just old buggers talking endlessly about Bob Dylan and Neil Young anymore. We’re getting lots of young people coming in. Last week I had a nine-year-old girl asking for Justin Bieber on vinyl, and it’s like ‘whoa, this is really different’. But I’ve also got lots of young people, music fans, who’ve probably got 60,000 tracks on their phone, but they’ve decided that they want to track down particular records and buy them. It still amazes me when a 16-year-old buys a free jazz record.
“Record stores aren’t the community they once were. Once upon a time if you wanted to know what gigs were going on around town, what records [to buy], you had to go into a record store, but then the internet came along. It is starting to pick up again though. We’re all music fanatics, and everyone who comes in here, if I say ‘can I help you’, they’ll jump on you [for that help]. It’s completely different, if I go into a petrol station, all I want to do is fill the car up and get out of there as quickly as possible, whereas people in record shops do enjoy interaction. I think if you can offer that, if you’re always trying to help people, and selling the right things, or even sometimes telling them about other shops where they’ll be able to find what they’re after, I think that’s the edge that a shop like this has.
“One of the great things with records, is there’s just so many different pressings of things, and we’re always coming across unusual things… I source my records anywhere I can overseas, I like going to Japan because they have very high quality pressings and they treat them well too. Rodriguez, who is very popular at the moment, one of his albums was released in Japan and I found a copy of it and bought it. I rang the guy who put out the reissues and he’d never heard of it, Rodriguez had never heard of this pressing. Word spread around and someone overseas offered me a ridiculous amount of money before I even pulled it out of the box, so that was exciting. It can be fun having [rare records], but I’d much rather be selling 75 $10 [ones].
Greville Records is located at 152 Greville St, Prahran VIC. For more details, head to grevillerecords.com.au.
Heartland Records have been a staple on the Melbourne record store map for almost 25 years. During that time owner Paul Cook has seen a lot of changes occur in music retail, including the store’s location.
“We moved here about four years ago,” says Cook. “We used to be opposite the Victoria market. We were there 20 years, so all up nearly 25 years in the business. Started off with a market stall, and doing record fairs and mail orders and advertising, that kind of stuff, and just sort of fell into a shop, and then ended here in this larger shop, which is nice. When I started it was the 90s, which was tough already, and then they phased out vinyl, [and] you could only get it from certain places. We always sold a lot of vinyl, but I never thought it would come back like it has. It’s good, there’s plenty of choice, lots of stuff coming out, [it’s] quite exciting. The old shop, we were known for gothic and metal and Britpop and indie, they were the main things. But here we’ve crossed over more, we’ve got a bigger jazz section; a bigger 60s section; rap; a bit of everything really without having a huge selection of one genre.
“We have the second hand racks as well but most of our stuff’s new, I’m much more comfortable with that. [For Record Store Day] We have all the releases and specials, price reductions, things like that. It sounds like a money orientated thing but it’s not - it’s much easier to just try and sell records, because it’s that full on that you can’t really do anything else. It’s mayhem, you can’t move in here and they’re all really nice and behaved. There’s a queue right down the street and they all come piling in. It’s good though, that in conjunction with vinyl coming back’s really kicked things along for the shop. I think Record Store Day in conjunction with the vinyl revival has definitely made a difference, I mean you can see how many shops there are in Melbourne, the amount of record stores there are, it’s crazy.”
Heartland Records is located at 420-422 Victoria Street, North Melbourne. For more information visit heartlandrecords.com.au.
It’s hard to fault the logic in deciding to open a record store with a bar attached to it – the two business ideas almost seem made to go together. Though Mojo Record Bar’s location in Martin Place might draw in a slightly different crowd to other record stores in Sydney, the passion for music and the drive to create a community is evident once you enter.
“It’s probably different to a lot of other record stores just because it’s attached to the bar and where it is,” says owner Dan Hoskin. “It’s kind of in a more financial, business crowd type area, so we don’t get that much younger foot traffic which a lot of the stores in Newtown would get. But you still get people in that crowd who are interested in new music. What I’ve definitely noticed in the past year is that our best customers in the store are not regulars in the bar.
“Once you’ve got a little community going around a shop, it’s pretty invaluable. We don’t really have that hugely here at the moment. I look at more established stores that have had a more solid management and a certain couple people running it for a while, [and they] have created a little scene around their store, which is something I’d eventually love to get going here with more in-store gigs and stuff. In that way people get to know you more and they become invested in the shop.
“I guess the fact that I’m the only one working here means that if somebody comes in after something particular I’ll be able to help them out pretty quickly. If they come in the next day, it’ll be me, or if they call, it’ll be me, or if they email, it’ll be me, it’s a very personal experience, which a lot of people have liked. I had a guy last week come in, he was after a record for his housemate’s birthday I think, and I was helping him out trying to figure out where he could get it from and he said ‘I think you’re the most responsible record store person I’ve dealt with in Sydney so far’, just because I knew what was going on and how to do everything and could do it right there and then.”
Mojo Record Bar is located at 73 York Street, Sydney. For more information visit mojorecordbar.com.
As iconic in Brisbane as the Gabba, Rocking Horse Records opened in 1975 and has been an integral part of the community ever since. Ric Trevaskes has been around the store since 1982 in different roles, returning in the last 18 months as a partner.
“Rocking Horse has been an import shop since 1975,” says Trevaskes. “It’s a very iconic shop in Brisbane, because its been one of the only shops – well, it’s been the only survivor. But it’s also been one of the only shops that’s been able to import records from all around the world and get anything that’s available. We stock all the local records, a lot of the local records that come from Brisbane are self-released and that’s the only place that people can sell them is in Rocking Horse, because local artists don’t particularly sell very well online unless they’ve got a good profile. People come [here] to be able to see a whole selection of what’s available in Brisbane.
“Rocking Horse has always had such a great range and has always covered all bases as well, so it’s been strong for jazz and blues, but also gets all of the new releases and covers classic rock and mainstream music very well. But certainly focusing foremost on independent music and punk and post punk and so forth. It went through a difficult time there’s no doubt about it. I mean all record shops did when people were downloading music, and that’s all they were doing, they weren’t buying physical product. With the turnaround of people now interested in buying records again – but also CDs again – that has been a big shot in the arm for record shops, there’s now a future to it. Shops like ours are stocking and talking our customers into buying decent turntables, so they can get a good reproduction from those records, which will ensure they come back because they’re going to hear something different to what they’re hearing on their phone.
“That’s the only way that Rocking Horse has survived - or any record shop survives - when customers choose to shop and take the advice of the people behind the counter as recommendations of what they should be buying. Quite often when you walk into a record shop you’re listening to something that you’ve never heard before, or you never would have the opportunity to hear before, and listening to it on good gear; through a good turntable and speakers.”
Rocking Horse Records are located at 245 Albert Street, Queen Street Mall, Brisbane. For more information visit rockinghorse.net.
Some people’s opinion on those who work in record stores is informed by John Cusack’s caricature of a record store owner in the High Fidelity. However, this uppity, uninterested, know it all is usually pretty far from the truth. In fact, Matt Huddy – owner of Sydney’s Red Eye Records – has built the store up to its now legendary status by being, for all intents and purposes, the complete antithesis of the character Cusack made so famous back in 2000. With a willingness to go above and beyond for the customer, he’s seen plenty of change in his time at the helm, from the days of the digital revolution right through to the current vinyl resurgence.
“When I started Red Eye, it was predominantly CDs. We did have a vinyl section that we never actually got rid of, but seeing the vinyl resurgence, which really started for us about 10 years ago, we had to add a second rack and then a third rack. Our last store was a two-story building, and we had to have vinyl racks going up the stairs because we had no more room for them. The change from going to having 200 LPs in the shop to what we have now – which is hundreds and hundreds – is great. I’m a massive vinyl fan. I love CDs too, [but] it’s good to see the bigger format, the beautiful artwork [on records].
“We have customers that are after obscure, rare and long out of print titles [and] they usually come to us because other stores, most of the time, only focus on catalogue titles. We source things that go back to the 1950s and we deal with people across the planet. So we’ll go to Germany, Sweden, America, anywhere we can to find what the customer wants.
“I’m currently working on a project with a customer who is after a cassette by a band called the Twenty-Twos who played at the Mossman Hotel in the early ‘80s. They disbanded back then, but luckily I found out that someone I know has a band who at the time were on the same label, so I’ve contacted him to contact someone from the band to try and source that cassette. We do that all the time, we go further than just contacting our record companies. We’ll source things from overseas, from other sellers, so I’m really hoping that this works out and that this guy can get his cassette that he hasn’t heard since 1982 or something.”
Red Eye Records is located at 143 York Street in Sydney. For more information visit redeye.com.au.
Having opened Rocksteady Records less than a year ago, Pat Monaghan immediately found sure footing by forging a strong connection with the Melbourne music community, maintaining a dynamic customer relationship, and focusing on groove based music.
“It’s been a very encouraging response from Melbourne and Australia’s record buying public, getting lots of new customers and lots of returning customers across a variety of age groups,” says Monaghan. “I’ve worked at record stores, or in music, for well over 30 years. I’ve worked at other really great record stores that I’ve learnt a lot at, but I wanted to do my own thing that pretty much definitively reflected what I’m passionate about.
“I feel that record stores and radio stations and record labels and venues and magazines and websites; it’s all part of one creative community and I wanted to give back to the creative community that’s always stimulated and supported me, so this was a really good way to do it. I think it was always going to be difficult [to open up the store], but rewarding. I think the fact that so many people across a variety of ages and walks of life and interests are enthusiastic about buying music in a physical form on vinyl is definitely encouraging, it’s definitely inspiring, and I guess from that point of view the time was right.
“Record stores - particularly independent record stores - need to have a dynamic relationship with the community that they’re a part of in almost an intimate, and wide-ranging sense. They should stock records - new releases, new pressings by local artists, as well as second-hand records and classics and stuff from overseas. I think you could have a really good relationship with local radio stations, community radio stations, community press, magazines, websites, bands [and] record labels. If you want to break it down, you’re hoping to make a living out of presenting the works of artists to other people, and I think you’re honour-bound to give back as well.
“I’ve got a fairly keen focus on reggae, whether that be ska, rocksteady, roots, dub or dancehall, things like that. I also have a fairly considered and committed support and passion for Melbourne and Australian music, though this doesn’t differentiate from any other independent store in the world probably. I like to talk a lot about music."
Rocksteady Records is located at Level 1, Mitchell House, 358 Lonsdale St., Melbourne. For more information visit rocksteadyrecords.com.au.
Based in the heart of Brunswick, Victoria, Record Paradise is home to one of the biggest pre-loved and new vinyl collections in Melbourne. As the name suggests, Record Paradise is an exotic space music lovers can escape and spin their favourite tunes. Co-owner Renae Maxwell has enjoyed countless memorable encounters at Record Paradise, and reflects on the importance of community in the music scene.
“The store was established in 1955. Warren [Warburton] established the Record Store at 100 Chapel Street in St Kilda and that was during the transition of 78 records to LP records. He actually closed down that store and reopened it in the 90s. We took over in 2008, so it has been about nine years now. From being a second-hand record store that was selling a few new CDs, we are now probably about 50/50 with new vinyl.
“Things happen here all of the time. People drop records off, so I guess a few stars drop in all of the time. I had Mikey Young [Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control] lying down on the ground fixing a turntable with a soldering gun. To me that was a moment I would never forget. It was pretty comical and funny. Joshua Homme once came in, that was pretty exciting! He filmed an episode of Rage here in the shop. He was great, a bit like a superhero… he had this glow to him. People like Marlon Williams have played here and just sung like an Angel. I remember it was an industry showcase with about 60 people here, and normally it is pretty chatty and everyone has a couple of drinks, and [his voice] just silenced the room.
“My partner and I both do community radio, and have so for 15 years. For us it is an important part of connecting. Even though doing a graveyard shift, you’re [physically] isolated from other people, there is this connection to people who are into the same thing as you. I guess I have always felt this isolation and connection at the same time, and use my love for music as a way to be able to break that down a little bit. It might sound weird because I’m in a room full of strangers, and somehow I’m feeling really connected. The store, however as accidental as the name was, it is this sort of exotic space that we can go to where we are allowed to connect with art and literature through a different means. With the internet, it really relies on that. It relies on your writing things and expressing yourself in a certain way. I rely totally on people coming into the shop. I connect with people who drop records off. I don’t read press releases. I pick up on the influences from the people I talk to. I feel like there are a lot of people like me, and this why this place can exist. It’s why I will dedicate my life to making sure spaces like this aren’t located only in a virtual realm.”
Record Paradise is located at 15 Union Street, Brunswick VIC. For more information visit recordparadise.com.au.
Opening a record store in July of last year was the lifelong dream of owners Michael Ibrahim and Bethany Adam. Combining everyone’s two favourite things, coffee and music, Son of Run forms the hub that Belgrave’s lively arts and music scene dearly needed. The family-owned business may not have the history other stores have, but they do provide a space for music enthusiasts to come in, dig through their expansive collection of records and enjoy the finest roasted coffee in town – an experience that Bethany believes has been missed by customers for far too long.
“I think vinyl has come back because people have been disconnected for a long time. Everything has been done digitally through phones, media and computers, and people are actually coming back to tangible experiences. It’s an experience to take a vinyl out of its sleeve, put it on the turntable and lower the needle down. It’s a tactile experience. You’re experiencing the music. You physically have to put it on, rather than just [listen] to a playlist on the computer in the background. I think people are coming back and wanting those things in their lives again.
“Vinyl music has always been a passion. We never really crossed over to the digital world when it comes to music. We have always listened to it on vinyl. Michael has always been a big collector of vinyl and we have a house full of them. When it came to deciding what to do [with the records], I sort of said to Michael ‘you either need to sell the records, or open a store.’ And so we opened the store.
“We stock all genres of music – from classical to French, alternative, rock, soundtracks – anything and everything. We have a library of over 10,000 albums. Currently we have about 3,500 in store and we just rotate our stock. We put new albums out each week. It’s just going really well in Belgrave. There’s a big artistic and musical community in Belgrave and we thought if [the store] is going to work anywhere outside of the city, it’s probably going to work here. And it’s been really well received by the community.”
Son of Run is located at 1675 Burwood Highway, Belgrave VIC. For more information visit facebook.com/son-of-fun.
The Record Store is located just east of the Sydney CBD, right in the thick of Darlinghurst’s cultural melting pot. It immediately stands out from the surrounding buildings thanks to a graffitied exterior wall, which is liable to be re-designed overnight. The store’s been there since 2003, seeing through plenty of changes in the pulse of Sydney’s music scene. It’s by no means the only record store in town, but with a heavy focus on DJ gear and 12 inch club singles, it’s always had a unique personality.
“We’ve got a Diggin’ Sydney guide with over 30 shops,” says co-owner Stephan Gyory. “In terms of electronica, we’re probably the only shop that sells house and techno and electronic music and what have you, and 12-inches.” The Record Store initially established itself by catering to the needs of club DJs, and it retains this function. However, they haven’t stubbornly ignored the fluctuating trends. “In the heyday of when DJs used to have to use 12”s there were 14 shops up here,” Gyory says. “They all had a separate specialty, but then one by one they went. We used to be specialists in breaks and drum and bass, but then breaks ceased to be popular and house and techno [became more popular]. Having said that, breaks is now rearing its head again. The sound always wanders around.”
In recent years, the vinyl stock has significantly broadened, appealing to fans of everything from house and techno to dubstep, drum’n’bass, jungle, funk, soul, hip hop, jazz, blues, rock, indie and reggae. “We’re a proper record store now, as well as being a DJ shop. We sell albums and second hand and turntables and headphones and needles and that kind of stuff. But we still maintain our electronic heritage – 12-inches is probably a third of what we do.”
People come in and go, ‘Why don’t you have this Cold Chisel record? Or why don’t you have this Beatles record?’ I’m like, ‘man if you know what you want, you can get it anywhere.’ So what’s the raison d'être? You have to look at what distinguishes you, and it’s always in the community. That sounds glib, but you can sit in your bedroom and download music, and go to a gig and get wasted and shout in someone’s ear and never get to know anyone in your community. But if you’re rubbing shoulders in a record store – we do mixes every second week, we’re always drinking beers. It’s a place where people get out of their own particular little part of the dance music community and where they can socialise.”
The Record Store is at 255B Crown St, Darlinghurst NSW. The store opens at 11am Mon-Sat and 12pm on Sunday. For more information head to recordstore.com.au.
Utopia Records taps into the very core of what it means to be a heavy metal and hard rock fan. These are genres fuelled by colossal bands, and the unflinching allegiance and burning passion of their followers. Since its establishment in 1978 the specialty record store has cultivated, and epitomised this binding relationship. From its modest beginnings, to the massive George St location, and the current Kent St basement, Utopia has and always will be, the undisputed ‘home of metal’.
“I still see customers who I saw in the store when I was a customer as a 15-year-old kid in 1980, coming in and buying the early Iron Maiden singles and the first album. A lot of those same people still come in today. So guys who were my age, guys that were a bit older. But the other thing is we’re now no longer a Sydney heavy metal scene record store. We’re a world scene record store.
“We get kids coming in from Brazil, a lot of kids from Nepal. They come in with tears in their eyes. They’ve heard about the place for thirty years because trust me, in Nepal, there’s no place like that. There’s no Utopia in Nepal... some of the iconic stores around the world have gone and we’re kind of like a destination spot for heavy metal fans when they come to Australia.
“So the store opened in 1978. Our big thing we like to brag about is that was actually two years before Dead Kennedys or Iron Maiden released their first albums. So we’re kind of there for the, not the very initial punk revolution, but definitely the second wave and the American wave. And we were definitely there for the new wave of British heavy metal, which as we know, spawned thrash metal and death metal and all the other different types of sub-genres of metal. So Utopia opened at the best time to open a heavy metal store in the history of the world, obviously. And we just went from strength to strength.
“When we did one Slayer interview in-store it was amazing because there were more than a thousand kids there, and I was looking after the line until it started, and my job was just to like make sure the kids were coherent enough to talk to the band and then meet them. This one kid just like looked at me and he lost his mind and he just started going, ‘man you don’t understand how much you mean to me. You’ve been the reason for my… I got over drugs.’ He was just so star struck that he didn’t even – in the 3D world – he didn’t even realise I wasn’t the guy he thought I was. You know… The singer from Slayer was just there laughing his guts out. He goes ‘man, you’re in the band, you’re in the band.’”
Utopia Records is located at the Cnr of Kent and Bathurst Street in Sydney CBD. For information visit utopia.com.au.
Northside Records occupies a unique position in the landscape of Australian independent record stores. Owned and run by the enigmatic Chris Gill, Northside has grown over its 15 years of operation to become a focal point for groove based music in Melbourne, and Gill as a facilitator for events and releases in the local soul scene.
“I started it because Melbourne didn’t have a very strong soul scene back in 2001-2002, like maybe one or two bands. Now there would be kind of 40 or 50 and that whole row is all local soul bands on 45,” says Gill pointing at one of the store’s racks. “So we’re in a better place now than we were.
“It’s very difficult to maintain and continue a retail store in town but I think, so long as you know why you’re doing it - you’re doing it predominately for the culture, for culture’s sake - then you’ll survive and you’ll keep going. The store is great because once you’re in this store, you’re standing next to people who also like music. So you’ve got that thing in common initially. The amount of customers I have that are musicians is amazing, because of course, all the musicians get the 10 per cent musicians discount. Often musicians will meet other musicians, or musicians will buy other musicians’ music, not only to support, but to check out and to see where they’re standing amongst the music of Melbourne.
“That helps a lot in terms of spreading the word about - of course music from all over the world - but we do make a point of shining the light on local stuff. When artists come through town we go out of our way to let them know they’re being supported here and that there’s other bands who also like what they do, and to show that other bands, local Melbourne bands, are doing the same sort of music as them.
“Record Store Day 2017 is the 10 year anniversary of Record Store Day, it will be a big one. Every independent record store in the world gets a party on Saturday April 22nd. Northside will be doing a 45 with Allysha Joy, the lead singer of 30/70, she’ll be performing as well. Cookin’ On Three Burners will be launching their latest 45, which is an original song, and then a cover of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ on the flip. We’re going to have Briggs from AB Original do a signing in the store. We’ll have lots of DJs throughout the day and two, three or four bands performing.”
Northside Records are located at 236 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne. For more information visit northsiderecords.com.au.