Bands, Beer, and Buses: An Interview with the Record Store Crawl's Organizer
In March, we learned about a national event called the Record Store Crawl happening in various cities this year throughout the U.S. During a Record Store Crawl, you board a bus with a band or two on it and roll around to different record stores within your town, grabbing food, drinks, and goodie bags along the way.
After our original post exploring the event series, we were curious about how Warner Brothers factored into the Record Store Crawl. Luckily, its organizers reached out to us on Twitter to see if we wanted to get some of our lingering questions answered. So we sent over some queries and Dick Joseph, the brainchild of Record Store Crawl, was awesome enough to answer.
Joseph says he works within the Label Services department for two Warner Music Group companies: Warner Elektra Atlantic (WEA) & Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA). He says his position mostly involves setting up promotions and marketing campaigns with record stores across the Northeast, which includes everything from value adds for indie retail to setting up in-store events.
The idea for the Record Store Crawl was hatched on Record Store Day 2015. Starting at 7 a.m., Joseph and a co-worker spent the day hopping around to different record stores. At some point in the middle of it all, Joseph understandably felt like a tall drink and a burger. "Then, I thought, why not make a crawl where we take a bus full of people to record stores and bars so they can load up on records, participate in RSD, and get some grub/drinks in between," he writes.
Joseph is hesitant to call himself the founder of the Record Store Crawl because he has a big team at WEA that makes it all possible. Below he talks about what to expect on a Record Store Crawl, how Warner Brothers factors into the equation, which cities have the best gift bags, and more.
When did you decide to do the Crawl nationally and how did you select the cities where you’re holding it this year? How can a city get considered for next year's Record Store Crawls?
Joseph: "So last year, we put together the first Record Store Crawl on RSD in NYC. It was very successful so we decided to expand it to cities across the country. The Label Services team has very close relationships with indie retail since we set up hundreds of promotions with record stores every year. We decided to pick an initial amount of cities in 2016 and have since expanded. We’ve received phenomenal feedback from all of the record stores saying that we’ve brought them new customers and brought press to their stores.
"Now, we get record store owners all across the country asking us to bring the crawl to their city, which we definitely want to do. One day, I would love to see this grow so much that we can have a crawl in every city that wants one so it can benefit indie retail and record culture."
How is Warner Brothers affiliated with the Record Store Crawl? How much promotion of Warner Bros artists will be happening during each Crawl? How is PBR involved?
Joseph: "I think you may be confusing Warner Bros. Records with Warner Music Group and WEA/ADA. As I said before, we work for WEA & ADA, which is Warner Music Group’s distribution and label services arm. Warner Bros. is a record label within the Warner Music Group family but separate from us. Basically, we’re the ones that get the records to the record stores from not only our major labels, but also hundreds of independent labels that rely on us for distribution.
"That being said, we are very excited to have Warner Bros. Records’ Angelica Garcia performing on our Washington, DC crawl. So you will definitely see some promotion for her. Across the country, our crawl artists range from Warner Bros. Records to artists from The End Records and Nettwerk Records. We are very proud to have Pabst Blue Ribbon as a national sponsor for the event. They will be providing brews throughout the crawl in each city."
Approximately, how long does each Crawl last and how long are you at each stop?
Joseph: "You can expect each crawl to last around 5 hours, if not a little bit more. We tailor each crawl to the individual city so you can expect all local destinations. Timing is based on each location, but crawlers will definitely have enough time to dig through all of the crates they want."
Given the nature of being driven around on a bus, I’m sure there will be some sort of waiver participants will have to sign. Is there anything a participant can do to ensure his or her likeness isn’t used in future promotional materials for Warner Bros/Record Store Crawls?
Joseph: "Sure thing, like any ticket you purchase, there’s a waiver attached to it. If a participant doesn’t want his or her likeness used, then we won’t use it. This is a very friendly event, we’re all vinyl lovers."
How are the record store stops for each city selected? What about the restaurants/bars? How are the band(s) that are playing on the bus selected? What cities will be getting the coolest prizes/goodie bags this year do you think?
Joseph: "We work with indie retail in each city to see who wants to be a participating location. We create a route that makes the most sense and boom, there it is! Each year we change the experience up so it’s not the same thing every time you crawl!
"We look at bands that are distributed through WEA/ADA to be involved in the crawl. With that said, most of our bands are on independent labels through ADA, and we even have some unsigned bands that have performed in the past. It was really cool to have Los Coast and Sleep On It perform as unsigned artists last year, and now they are both signed to labels.
"All of the cities will have wonderful prizes and goodie bags. I can’t tell you exactly what since it’s a surprise, but I can say it’s everything from test-pressings and signed vinyl to slipmats, records, and collectibles."
What do you say to people who don’t understand why anyone would pay to be driven around town to different record stores?
Joseph: "If it’s not for you, then it’s not for you. No hard feelings. But we definitely know there are plenty of people out there that would love the experience. Past crawlers rave about the experience and record stores ask us to bring it back to them since it has had such a positive effect. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind time to have your favorite artists serenading you on a bus between record stores."
Can you decide to leave the Crawl at any time once it’s started? Like if you’re just feeling done and wanna jet?
Joseph: "Sure thing – though you would be missing out if you left early ;) We’re all adults, we can’t force you to do anything."
Does Record Store Crawl have anything to do with Run Out Groove vinyl?
Joseph: "ROG is a new label under Warner Music Group. So as far as both being under the WMG umbrella, yes. Directly, however, no. But we definitely loooove ROG."
Anything else we should know?
Joseph: "Really the purpose for these crawls is to create excitement in the indie retail community and benefit the record stores and vinyl fans. We want to make people that purchase vinyl through Amazon realize how fun it can be to go into a record store!"
Full Record Store Crawl 2017 dates:
4/22 – New York, NY
6/10 – Minneapolis, MN
6/17 – Phoenix, AZ
6/24 – Chicago, IL
6/24 – Rochester, NY
7/8 – Seattle, WA
7/22 – Los Angeles, CA
7/29 – Birmingham, AL
7/29 – Washington, DC
8/6 – Austin, TX
8/12 – Portland, OR
8/26 – Nashville, TN