Record Store Day ‘Exploded’ Thanks to Metallica, Says Co-Founder

Record Store Day‘s co-founder credited Metallica with helping make the event successful after he struggled to find support early on.

Michael Kurtz said he found little enthusiasm in music stores when trying to develop the concept ahead of its 2007 launch — until he approached the metal giants and asked them to participate.

“In the beginning it was very hard, because almost nobody carried vinyl unless it was used, and most used vinyl was 25 or 50 cents,” Kurtz said during an RSD event moderated by Variety. “[T]here was no business model for vinyl at that point. It had been completely dismantled. So when I talked to record store owners to get on board, the initial response was pretty negative: ‘We don’t sell vinyl. That’s not what we do. We’d have to re-fixture our stores.’ It was like pushing a rock up a hill.”

As a small number of organizations began to show interest, Kurtz made contact with Metallica. “[T]he reaction was, ‘Hell yeah, let’s do that; that would be fun,’” he recalled. “It really was like a big explosion for everybody involved, because Tower had just gone out of business, and everybody was a little bit down, uncertain about everything. And then Metallica comes in and goes, ‘Fuck all that. Let’s have a party.’ And they put out their records on vinyl for that first Record Store Day, and then it just exploded from there.” He emphasized: “[W]hen it happened, it exploded, and then it became as if it had always been there or something.”

Record Store Day celebrated its 15th anniversary in April 2022, with over 1,000 stores participating in the U.S. — more than 10 times the number from 2007.

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