An Open Letter to Record Store Day

Joe Steinhardt
Mar 4 · 3 min read
The RSD 3 3" record player and some 3" Disney singles

Dear Michael Kurtz and Record Store Day,

We need to talk about your RSD3 mini-turntable and 3” records.

We live in an age where science tells us in simple terms that a rise in greenhouse gas emissions is directly leading to devastation of the climate and a destruction of life on Earth for all species. Science also tells us in equally simple terms that the prime cause of this destruction is not the natural processes which influence climate, but human activities like industrial production and burning of fossil fuels which increase greenhouse gas levels and trap heat in our atmosphere.

With this in mind, it seems completely reckless and in disregard for the severity of the impact of increasing greenhouse gas levels for Record Store Day to be pushing and promoting 3” novelty records at this time.

As a music industry we are coming to an understanding of the impact of our own operations on the environment and have been looking to curb some of the more needlessly wasteful processes of those operations.

I personally believe that music, art, and culture are an outstanding usage of our planets limited resources. However, it is not due to the amount of art and culture humans are producing that the planet is heating up to a level which will soon be deadly to life on Earth as we know it.

It is generally understood to be due to various types of unnecessary waste across a variety of industries. The justification for this short-term waste at the expense of a planet that can sustain carbon-based life is typically financial: either through cutting costs of production, or through being able to sell more of something than necessary.

It is impossible to look at the RSD3 3” records as a contribution to art and culture that respects the impact of their production on greenhouse gas levels. Rather, they represent the most heinous type of over-consumption-inducing production that values short term profit over the long term survival of life.

I understand you see this not just as product, but as a promotional tool for physical record stores, something near and dear to me as well. I am certain there are things I have done and may continue to do with my record label that you can point to as being equally wasteful in the name of a novelty-based approach to promotion.

I concede that 3” records are fun, and that our industry is in such a dire position where we need to consider the environmental impact of something as benign as a 3” novelty record format due to no fault of our own. However, like most other humans on the planet and all plants and non-human animals, we were put into this dire position without any consent, by toxic corporations and government officials.

Our industry’s own operations are one of the few things in the fight against climate change that we can have any kind of direct agency over, and you command significantly more power than myself in this regard.

With this in mind, I urge you to consider the value of life on Earth over industry-awareness and profit. I urge you to consider not just the fossil fuel used in the manufacturing process of these novelty items and their players, but also the shipping and distribution process, and the impact of those processes on Earth’s greenhouse gas levels.

I urge you to join the fight against climate change and push back against products like the RSD3 with the same force and fervor with which you have previously promoted them.

Joe Steinhardt / Don Giovanni Records

Joe Steinhardt

Written by

Independent record label owner (Don Giovanni Records). Music Industry Professor (Drexel University).

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