The first Belgian Record Store Day took place last year, thanks to a push by Music Mania in Ghent. This year, more than 30 shops are participating across Brussels and Flanders, including Fatkat, Tune Up and Wally’s Groove World in Antwerp; Wool-e shop, Vynilla and of course Music Mania in Ghent; The Collector and Hors-Serie in Brussels; Retro Vinyl Lounge in Aalst; and the Vinyl Touch in Mechelen.
About 15 artists, such as rock band Triggerfinger, indie-rock foursome Intergalactic Lovers and electro duo 2manydjs, will release albums on the day, while several others will play in-store gigs, including dEUS-guitarist Mauro Pawlowski and rising star Liesa Van der Aa. Radio station Studio Brussel, meanwhile, is releasing an actual record: a vinyl LP of live studio sessions recorded over the years.
Also worth checking out on 21 April is a concert by noise-rock band Drums are For Parades to kick off their Record Store Day-release IMPERIVM. Five artists who make guest appearances on the new album join the band live in Ghent’s Handelsbeurs: Younes Faltakh (The Hickey Underworld), Tim Vanhamel (Millionaire), Pieter-Paul Devos (Kapitan Korsakov), Papillon (The Subs) and Rudeboy (Urban Dance Squad).
Record Store Day started in 2008 in the US as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding indie stores and as a direct response to the decline in album sales over the last decade. Due to mass digital downloading and supermarket competition, a lot of music retailers around the world have shut down.
The shops seem to reap the fruits of Record Store Day’s success. Not only did the initiative boost sales for independent retailers around the world, it also gave them a chance to get their small businesses noticed. From Record Store Day in 2009 to Record Store Day in 2010, sales for independent music stores worldwide increased 109%. Vinyl is also making a comeback. In Belgium there were 65,130 vinyl records sold in 2011, an increase of 39% from 2010.
Staf De Vos, owner of Fatkat Records in Antwerp, which specialises in vinyl, is pleased with the attention generated by Record Store Day and continues to be optimistic about the survival of record shops. “As long as young people remain interested in the physical aspect of CDs and LPs, record stores will be alive and kicking,” he says.