Happy Record Store Day

Tomorrow, April 17, is Record Store Day - a day to celebrate and support your favorite local independent record store.

More than 700 independently owned record stores across the U.S., and hundreds of international stores, will take part in this event. The goal is to bring customers into shops who now have to compete with digital downloading sites such as iTunes (the world's biggest music dealer) and huge corporations like Wal-Mart.

This is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists in the United States and in various countries across the globe make special appearances and performances. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, djs spinning records and on and on. Metallica officially kicked off Record Store Day at Rasputin Music in San Francisco on April 19, 2008 and Record Store Day is now celebrated the third Saturday every April.

Many record stores are benefiting from increasing interest in vinyl recordings as well as the buy/sell/trade of used CDs.

RSD may or may not be a gimmick – but it's working. Matt Vaughn, who owns Seattle's Easy Street Records, was skeptical of the idea when it kicked off but was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. "To my surprise, it turned out to be the busiest day of the year," said Vaughan, who has stores in West Seattle and another Queen Anne. "I wasn't even staffed for it."

Many musicians are supporting Record Store Day by offering free downloads, raffles, give-aways, and, best of all, in-store performances:

- Not quite sure how this is supposed to get customers into shops, but HeadCount homeys Widespread Panic are giving away two digital downloads from their next album, Dirty Side Down, which arrives May 25.

- Vanguard Records is also providing exclusive vinyl reissues of Buddy Guy, Doc Watson, and others.

- Check out this ridiculously long list of quotes from artists ranging from Billy Corgan and Tech N9ne to Skerik, all of whom encourage you to visit your local record emporia tomorrow.

I remember buying Green Day's Dookie from a massive Strawberries (do those even exist anymore?) store in Warwick, Rhode Island. At the time, I didn't think anything of making a purchase from some superstore, or about all the complications that come along with artists and record labels and what these big stores mean for the little guys. Luckily, my best friend's older sister was cool enough to turn us on to Sam's Records, a local record store that was actually a little cheaper and definitely way cooler. Unfortunately, Sam's closed a few years ago.

I'll be heading over to Amoeba Records and other San Francisco spots to support some of my favorite artists and snag some free goodies. You can find your own local participating stores right here.