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Record Store Day moves

The importance of Record Store Day can’t be overstated for many independent retailers.

“If it’s a slow summer and Record Store Day was good, there’s enough profit from that day to carry us through those slow months,” said Jeff Burke, owner of the Record Connection in McKinley Heights.

RSD started in 2008 as a way to grow the hobby of music buying / collecting and emphasize the importance of independent record stores at a time when physical media sales were being threatened by digital music sales a decade ago and streaming services today. Many artists and small and major record labels issue limited edition recordings that are available exclusively to those non-chain stores.

The annual event is one of the many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally set for April 18, RSD has been bumped to June 20.

The move could have some advantages for the Record Connection, Burke said. Crowds for the day swell beyond what the store can hold, and in recent years Burke has set up a tent in the McKinley Heights parking lot that is used for both sales and live entertainment. Past RSDs have had temps in the upper 70s and The odds are less likely that customers will have to bundle up in June.

The store hosted Foo Fighters on RSD in 2015 and has featured local and regional acts in recent years. Booked for 2020 were Youngstown’s Labra Brothers in the morning and Pittsburgh’s Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers in the afternoon. Burke said he is working to secure both for the new date.

The worry now is whether everything will be back to normal in June and what impact the economic fallout from the virus will have on people’s buying habits.

“There’s so much chaos right now,” Burke said. “It’s a big concern. Will people still come out? If it’s all squared away by the end of April, I’ll feel a lot better.”

The list of albums, 45s, CDs and cassettes coming for RSD 2020 was released shortly before the delay, and Burke and other retailers had high expectations based on the quality and variety. It ranges from rarities and reissues from Rock & Roll Hall of Famers to a live album by 2020 multiple Grammy-winner Billie Eilish.

The complete list is available online at recordstoreday.com.

Burke said customers already have been asking about several of the titles, and at least one release has a local connection. Chrysalis Records is releasing “Live in Youngstown ’78,” featuring the rock band U.F.O. recorded at the Youngstown Agora. Portions of the show were used for the live album “Strangers in the Night,” but this is the first time the Youngstown show has been released in its entirety.

“I was there that night,” Burke said. “It’s a really solid list of titles this year.”

agray@tribtoday.com

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