PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Record Store Day is the best day on the calendar for music on vinyl, but one of the worst days for actually buying any of it.
On just about any other day on the calendar, an independent record store is a playground of new releases and vintage gems overseen by some of the most knowledgeable music scholars in the retail industry. On April 19, the seventh-annual Record Store Day will send collectors and novices streaming into the more than 700 participating shops in the U.S. and 1,600 around the world looking for exclusive Record Store Day releases and limited-run items. There will be in-store appearances, live performance and long lines.
All of this is wonderful for both the stores and for vinyl music sales in general. Nielsen Soundscan notes that album sales were down 8.4% in 2013 -- with physical music sales in stores and elsewhere down 13% -- but vinyl sales jumped 33% to 6.1 million last year. Going back to 1993, vinyl sales have increased 250% in the last 20 years as overall music sales slid 50%.
Those 6.1 million albums are an incredibly small fraction of the 289.4 million albums sold in the U.S. last year, but they're a big spot for record stores at a time when music fans don't necessarily have to own the music they're listening to. Streaming services like Pandora (P - Get Report), Rdio, Beats Music and Spotify, saw streams jump 32% to 118 billion in 2013, while record stores have seen their revenue tumble by 76% since 2000 to $2 billion, according to market research firm IBISWorld. That group estimates that record stores will lose another 40% of sales by 2016.
Music ownership is becoming a niche market, and vinyl buyers will pay a premium of $17 and up to own their favorite albums in that format. That's going to play a big role in keeping record stores alive and fulfilling the mission that Chris Brown, vice president of New Hampshire- and Maine-based music and movie chain Bull Moose, established when he dreamed up the first Record Store Day in 2007. It's also why there are hundreds of releases slated for next week's big day.
While we'd never advise against shopping for vinyl on Record Store Day -- and know full well that we'll be in some of those same lines we complained about earlier -- we do think that there's no way you should head to your local record shop without a plan. We looked through this year's extensive list of releases and came up with a wish list of our own for the day. Tastes vary, but consider this a template: