By Patrick Avenell

JB Hi-Fi stores throughout Australia will be celebrating Record Store Day on 18 April 2009. The concept is to get consumers back in music retail stores, but is such a promotion really necessary?

The day is being organised and promoted by the Australian Music Retailers’ Association (AMRA), an organisation that represents both major chains and smaller or otherwise independent stores. Current members include Leading Edge, Sanity, Hum and Angus & Robertson.

By running a promotional campaign to support the record store in general, and with events planned at various stores on the day, AMRA is hoping that consumers will return to the sales floor to support retailers with their music purchases.

Competing music websites, which sell individual tracks for downloads at or around $1.70, have been blamed for perceived drop in physical CD sales. This may be more myth than reality, with the Australian Record Industry Association reporting on 4 December 2008 that “CD sales have jumped as much as 57 per cent on a week-by-week comparison over the same period last year”.

AMRA has set up a dedicated website for the promotion, but news of the event is struggling to disseminate through the community. currently lists hundreds of “participating stores”, but information about what is actually happening where and when is sparse. A search of JB Hi-Fi, Sanity and Leading Edge homepages revealed no mention of, or reference to, Record Store Day.

All that is known thus far is that Canadian singer Wendy Matthews will be signing copies of her latest album at a store in an outer Canberra suburb. Wendy Matthews has not had a hit in 17 years.

Considering that ARIA is reporting an uptake in physical CD sales, and the apparent lack of enthusiasm in the industry and community for this gala day, the purpose of Record Store Day is nebulous. Is it to genuinely help struggling retailers get consumers back in store? Or is to perpetuate a myth that music sales at the retail level are indeed struggling? sought comment for this article from AMRA and various retail groups. We shall publish any comments that are provided in a future article.