Coachella 2011: Record Store Day came and went, but the toys are still available
A pop-up shop from Arizona's Zia Record Exchange is a regular now at Indio's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Some years in making the trip to the desert the store loses a little money, and some years it makes a little money. "The goal is to break even," said general manager Brian Faber.
Yet Zia is at Coachella to fulfill its role as an ambassador for all indie retail. What began as a marketing program, the now annual Record Store Day is a feast for collectors, as dozens and dozens of limited product is released to stores. Each year, it typically coincides with Coachella.
"We upped our buys this year," Faber said of all Record Store Day exclusives. "We increased everything by 20%."
But why make the trip if it's not a sure moneymaker? The payoff comes from supporting the long-term health of indie retail, Faber said.
"We don't want to lose money," Faber said. "We want to do a good job. There's a whole upside to this. We get emails from people all the time thanking us for being here."
And fans who pay close attention to Zia's artist signing schedule are sometimes in for a treat. Saturday night, said Faber, Erykah Badu had a signing slot, and afterward she took the first 20 to 25 people who were in line behind Zia to reward them with an unplanned and private Q&A session.
"I like to think we're prepared for anything," Faber said.
No indie store, however, can fully prepare for Record Store Day, in which limited runs of hot product sell out instantly, even at Coachella. Not surprisingly, among the first to go, said Faber, was a reissue of a Nirvana EP, but efforts from Adele, Wild Flag and a "Tron: Legacy" vinyl release also went quickly. Lest any fans think record owners stash a stack, Faber said Zia plays fair. The staff, for instance, had its eye on the test-pressing edition of Big Star's "Third," but it went soon after Coachella opened its gates.
"If it didn't sell by noon, we would have descended upon it like flies," Faber said.
As for Coachella acts who are hot sellers at Zia, Faber notes the Sleigh Bells have been selling the most consistently, although a vinyl release from Jimmy Eat World has also been hot.
I made a beeline for Zia on Saturday as well, but I wasn't after music. I wanted some of the limited-edition vinyl art (OK, toys, fine) designed by Frank Kozik, a graphic artist who's no stranger to rock 'n' roll, having founded Man's Ruin Records. There are four different creations, all limited to no more than 1,500 pressings. One figure sportng a pink "party naked" shirt is limited to 500.
Yet this was the perfect place to buy the $15 items, as it was a Zia staffer who suggested the concept to Kozik at last year's Comic-Con in San Diego. Once Kozik said yes, Zia took the idea to indie retail group the Music Monitor Network, and Faber got his retail partners on board. From implementation to creation, the Kozik items came to life in less than eight months.
As you can see from the above photo, I unwrapped mine in Coachella's VIP-only rose garden to photograph them (OK, fine, play with them).
-- Todd Martens
Photo credit: Todd Martens