What is a Record Store Crawl and Should You Go?
Got an email yesterday about something called a Record Store Crawl. It piqued my interest for two reasons.
The first was obviously because it had "record store" in the title, but the "crawl" part was also intriguing. I've never done a bar crawl before, at least not in any official capacity. Same with record stores. I may go to two or three on a good day, but not with an organized group or anything. Why would I do that?
The second reason this caught my attention was because of the sender: Warner Music Experience.
Warner Music Experience is some sort of promotional appendage of Warner Music Group, one of the biggest major record label conglomerates in the country. When I opened the email, a disclaimer at the top explained why I was receiving this email.
I don't remember ever expressing interest in the Warner Music Experience, but then again, it's totally possible I could've. Who knows? Life is too short to get upset about these things.
Then comes the payoff.
Okay, I really liked what I was hearing. Who doesn't want a whole day to eat, drink, and shop for records? That's pretty much 80% of what I want to do on any given day.
Surely this "Record Store Crawl" was happening in New York or Los Angeles and I wouldn't be able to attend anyways. On the contrary though, the Record Store Crawl was scheduled for 12 cities in the US, including my own.
So now I'm into this, although I want to learn more. Some Googling lets me know that this is only the second year the event's been going on. The Record Store Crawl official website doesn't seem to have a whole lot of info at first glance either. Although it does have this video.
From the video, it looks like you plow through some restaurants, bars, and record stores with a bunch of strangers for a day while getting trucked around town in a school bus with a band on it.
Next to each date on the Record Store Crawl itinerary is a "more info" option so I clicked on Portland. Here's what a ticket gets you:
- Seat on the Record Store Crawl bus with TBA music performances along the way
- Bottomless Pabst Blue Ribbon at Bar of Gods
- BBQ plate + 10% off purchases + beer at Music Millennium
- Giveaways including Kanto YU6 speakers, test pressings, signed vinyl and more
- Gift bag full of swag including a mystery vinyl LP and 7 inch
- Limited edition Domino Records tote bag
- Metallica and David Bowie slipmats
- Limited edition 2017 Record Store Crawl poster
- 10% off + beer and Pabst Blue Ribbon at Tender Loving Empire
- 10% off at Jackpot Records
- Giveaways at Everyday Music
- Online code for 15% off U-Turn Audio turntables
While we don't know what artist(s) will be playing on the Portland bus yet, I can confirm all the record store stops are pretty good. Music Millennium may be my favorite record store of all time, so that's a nice plus. And we'll be able to drink beer at some of these stores? At this point, thinking I could probably choke down enough bottomless PBR to make the free schwag and food worth it.
Each city gets its own perks at various record stores, obviously, but the Portland itinerary and discounts were convincing. Especially since all this was priced at only $35 per ticket. This is a time when the lower cost of living in Portland comes in handy, because in LA, for instance, tickets are going for $60.
What I'm not 100% sure about is how Warner Brothers factors into all of this. I'm sure you'd get some WB-artist chachkies with a ticket (both Bowie and Metallica are former WB artists, so maybe that's where the slipmats come into play), but it all doesn't make sense. Is a major label just trying to help promote fun events with record stores? Is it as simple as that?
My years of cynicism about major record labels tell me it can't be so easy. I still feel like you'll get on that bus and your image is gonna end up plastered all over some awful Warner Brothers promotional GIFs on social media. And the tickets are literally being sold through Warner's website. Feels a little icky? At least Record Store Day is a mostly independently-organized event, right?
Some Googling turned up this write-up from Billboard of last year's initial Record Store Crawl in New York. The Record Store Crawl actually started as an offshoot of Record Store Day by some Warner Brothers executive or whatever, and they just decided to do it across the country and have it mostly unrelated to RSD (except in New York, where it still happens on RSD).
Or so the story goes...
Anyways, I still wanted more information but couldn't find any other actual reviews of last year's Record Store Crawl. So I went on the event's Facebook page in search of answers. It appears others shared my skepticism.
So now that we know what a Record Store Crawl is... should you go? That's a personal question for every music fan who lives in one of the chosen cities. If any of this sounds like fun to you, maybe do it? Especially if you can rope a friend or two into going. And like PBR. And trust major labels. Don't sit on your decision too long though, because the Record Store Crawl in New York has already sold out and tickets just went on sale yesterday.
As for me, maybe I should cast my cynicism aside, eat free BBQ, down enough gratis PBR so any purchase I make feels like a revelation, and literally get on the bus. We'll see, a lot can happen between now and August. If I go, expect a full review on here afterwards.
Full Record Store Crawl dates below:
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