Welcome to the new Squire newsletter where we join in with all the fun and games surrounding the latest efforts to sell records and celebrate the various hardware formats by coming up with our own bundle of fun!
Record Store Day, inaugurated in 2007 was conceived to ‘celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store’, but has since become mainly a vehicle for larger record companies to revisit the vinyl and physical marketplace, which in turn has added pressure on the limited capacity of the remaining vinyl record pressing plants around the world. Hence manufacturing times have extended from just a few weeks last year to in many cases over six months this year! Squire fans, vinyl collectors and aficionados of independently released records generally, have all shared in the frustration alongside the small labels in not knowing when the new vinyl releases will eventually emerge! So the excitement of an expected new release becomes a hiatus of exasperation while we all wait for the pre-announced releases to eventually arrive! Indeed, Squire’s own planned timetable of single re-releases has similarly suffered with the unexpected misfortune of extended lead times.
This years Record Store Day was 12th June 2021 with a repeat performance of 17th July 2021. In most cases, small independent labels now sit this event out as the process of submitting, manufacturing, pricing, delivering, promoting and exclusivity precludes all but the deep pocketed large companies.
The event has even been expanded to include a Black Friday Record Store Day, on 26th November 2021, while various other annual festivals have since been invented that celebrate the resurgence of physical releases in analogue formats.
Two such extra occasions this month prompted us to ‘join in’ even if we would be otherwise ignored by the official channels!
Cassette week October 12 -16th, supported by Discogs, celebrates the narrow tape format, and while no one is expecting a revival on the scale of vinyl records, the sound of cassettes is surprisingly evocative and often superior to MP3! The inherent distortion on tape makes up for any fidelity concerns and the medium is the perfect item for those who want to combine a physical artefact with a download but are not enamoured by the digital CD format which has suffered in recent years from a devaluation, having been replaced by streaming, free downloads and sharing. Of course the cassette often comes with a download code or access to streaming so you benefit from the best of both worlds, a souvenir of your purchase and the digital equivalent.
Cassettes tend to be a limited edition release that combines an historical pre digital sound medium with a cultural connection to a previous era that often better represents the actual recording. The novelty and nostalgia of owning and even playing the cassette may also evoke memories of first enjoying music, often on a Walkman, and the process of discovering new music was often expedited by creating mixtapes to share. Indeed the process of curating playlists lead many to become DJs or find a voice on podcasts. The term 'mixtape' is still used for an informal release, often digitally on Soundcloud.
Of course, songwriters and bands of a certain era remain surrounded by rattling cassette libraries! The advantage, like a book spine, the handwritten sleeve usually reminds you of the contents without having to play it - although there are usually hidden surprises inside!
While the UK Cassette Store Day seems to have been paused temporarily, the ongoing interest in releasing on cassette provides an interesting alternative avenue to joining the back of the queue at the vinyl factory.
There are links to the Cassette Week and Cassette Store Day sites on the pictures below
National Album Day, 16th October 2021, is now in its forth year and although it also produces a veritable tsunami of exclusive coloured limited edition vinyl product from the majors, (amongst which Kirsty MacColls final album Tropical Brainstorm is given a welcome vinyl release), it does follow a theme. 2018 focused on sleeve artwork and the 70th anniversary of the album as release format.
Columbia introduced the Long Playing ‘microgroove’ 33 1/3 rpm 12 inch format in 1948. Before then, an ‘album’ of typically 10 songs would take up 5 * 78rpm 10 inch discs on inferior shellac records, since playing time was a little over 3 minutes per side. It was this collection of discs in a bound book style cover that gave the selling term ‘album’ as opposed to the release of individual songs on single discs in card sleeves, and the term ‘album’ has been used ever since, even though the same number of songs could later be combined on one vinyl 12 inch disc.
The 2019 National Album Day celebrated albums in entirety that lived up to a ‘don’t skip’ ethos. 2020 was ‘albums of the 80s’ and this years 2021 theme is ‘Celebrating Women in Music’. There is a link to National Album Day website on the picture
Squire are happy to join in, having released our last album Get Ready To Go! In both vinyl (translucent green, yellow and classic black), cassette format and with CD for good measure! We can at least claim to share in some of the celebrations, with affiliations to each years estimable theme!
You can click on the pictures below for direct links to the bundles, which also include an extra ‘add on’ surprise!
All the best from Squire!