Monday, April 24, 2017

Looking at the first Record Store Day in Manila

Looking at the first Record Store Day in Manila
by rick olivares

The first Record Store Day held in the Philippines has come and gone. Many music and vinyl enthusiasts like myself had a great time digging, swapping stories, socializing, and listening to the bands that also performed that day at the Buddha Bar along Kalayaan Avenue in Makati.

Spread across 25 sellers, there was quite a diverse selection of titles and wares and it sure helped that I had a game plan for the event.

Here are my simple tactics for the day:

Go early.
As the saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm.” Going early means you have a good chance of finding stuff that wouldn’t necessarily be available later on. One dude bought at least 12 LPs from one seller at one go. And he bought even more elsewhere. So you can bet he had the pick of the litter.

Going early means you get to pace yourself as there aren’t that many people yet. Unlike when you arrive mid-afternoon when there are more people and you have to now wait until you get to dig into one particular rack.

Have a clear cut idea of what you want.
Unless you have deep deep pockets then you might want to have a game plan.

It pays to know what you want and are looking for. It’s easy to pull out any album that strikes your fancy or have great memories as a youngster. However, for those operating on a reasonable budget, know that there are albums that are always going to be available - the Beatles, U2, Bruce Springsteen etc. The more popular artists simply have a lot of product out there with high press runs. If you can avoid getting them, hold off. You might want to look for certain titles that are harder to find. Such as Nirvana. Finding those old Nirvana releases from the 1990s is difficult. I’ve been digging in England, Singapore, Hong Kong, and here… all I see are the remastered ones and not the original ones that came out under the Sub Pop label in the 1990s.

Dig thoroughly.
Some sellers simply are little pricier but there are alternatives. And going through each and every record one by one requires patience. I skipped a bunch of records after going through one rack that didn’t appeal to me at all. The next guy who browsed after me fished out Rush’s “Moving Pictures” that was all the way to the back and it wasn’t only in superb condition but it was cheap. Argh!

There is no uniform pricing for new records. So browse before buying. I saw one table that was easily at least Php300 cheaper than most others selling new LPs.

One table had certain new records that were at least P700 off the price of many others!

If you spot something you like but would like to browse, ask if they can hold it for a few minutes then look around. If you saw the new pressings of the Smiths’ “Hatful of Hollow” there were sellers that pegged them at P1,400 and P1,800. However, did you see that seller who had the UK pressing – and in great shape mind you – for P1,800. Now it’s your choice – pre-loved or brand new?

It. Won’t. Hurt. To. Bargain. Even a hundred shaved off the price is still a hundred off.

Here are some observations of mine from Record Store Day.

Take business cards and get to know the sellers.
Nothing like befriending the cool folks who help satisfy your music habit. Once you become a regular, he or she can help you find particular records you are looking for. Getting their cards means you can check out their online or Facebook sites.

OPM is in demand
Almost at every table, buyers could be heard asking if there was OPM available. There are but they are expensive. And you really have to consider if it’s worth it. I was told this Andrew E album was in great condition except it wasn’t. Way too many scratches. But the price, I have to admit, was good – P1K. Except that I am not into Andrew E.

A sealed edition of Juan de la Cruz band’s final opus, “Kahit Anong Mangyari” was selling for P20K. Did anyone get that? Maria Cafra’s debut album and Mike Hanopol’s “Awiting Pilipino” was selling for P15K each.

The new pressings of some classic OPM albums such as The Story of FrancisM, The Dawn etc. was sold at a special price – some P300-400 off the usual price!

Am not sure if Buddha Bar was the best place for the event.
It’s a bar and that means dim lights. Good overhead lights do not necessarily mean it’s going to hurt the merchandise. And it helps you when browsing. Maybe it’s a cost factor.

And a little more browsing and elbow room is good. With all the tables and audio and performance equipment, navigating especially when there were a lot of people was slightly difficult.

Small quibbles but they didn’t dampen the overall experience.

And lastly, a recommendation.

Hopefully, next year, the organizers, in conjunction with local recording artists can put out unique stuff to the day and the event itself. You have to get people into the music and vinyl habit.

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