With lockdown and social distancing measures keeping us away from all but essential shops and metres apart at all times, the past of gigs, clubs and everyday high street shopping might be starting to feel like a fever dream.
The last few months have undoubtedly been a nerve-racking time for even the largest businesses, with recent figures proposing that as many as 20,600 retailers can be expected to have closed down by the end of 2020. As the world adjusts itself to the fabled ‘New Normal’ of distancing and protective clothing, the future of small, independent music vendors and venues is all but certain.
An oasis of celebration amid the pandemic came in the form of the Love Record Stores event on 20th June, an additional date to the independent music calendar following the postponement of Record Store Day from April to three separate dates in August, September and October. The specially digitalised event boasted over 90 re-releases and special editions from artists including the Arctic Monkeys, Libertines and Nirvana. Highlighting 130 independent record shops across the UK, with Sheffield’s Bear Tree and Spinning Discs among them, the event celebrated the perseverance of these stores throughout lockdown and their continued dedication to providing the best experience for music lovers in the world’s post-covid state.
Bringing listeners together from homes across the UK, Love Record Stores organised a 24-hour live event by artists across the genre spectrum, with all performances still currently accessible to listen via Love Record Stores’ Mix Cloud. The setlist is full of Radio Soho special editions, interviews, readings, exclusive performances and DJ sets including those of John Wizards, Daniel Avery and Four Tet, in collaboration with Eat Your Own Ears.
The event also supported the charities Black Lives Matter, Covid-19 Relief Fund and #SaveOurVenues, urging audiences to donate throughout the event and selling merchandise on the website in aid of the latter.
While ordering from independents online might be a far cry from the immersive experience of discovering new music in person, Love Record Stores is focused on the digital experience as a necessary part of keeping alive those fundamental corners of the music landscape. Lockdown may have driven independent record stores online for the time being, but the industry and its supporters have proven the heyday of independent music stores is far from over.