The Shins Revive A Very Nerdy “Midnight Madness” Tradition

Jan 29th, 2007 // 4 Comments

shinswall.jpgWhen the Shins released Wincing The Night Away last Tuesday, they did more than make lovelorn bong-builders sigh with glee: They also might have helped revamp the once-thriving tradition of record-store midnight-sales parties. According to Billboard, store-owners are trying to get the jump on digital sales (and digital piracy) by once again turning an album release into an event opening the doors at 11:59 p.m. and counting on fans’ enthusuasm to fill the floor:

Eric Levin at [Atlanta's] Criminal Records says he hasn’t opened at midnight since the 2004 release of the Beastie Boys’ “To the 5 Boroughs.”

“I wouldn’t blame it on the Beastie Boys,” Levin jokes of abandoning the practice. “When you go anywhere online and hear any record, you don’t have the need to go out at midnight. But I felt like there was a need for January 23. There’s the Shins, there’s Deerhoof, there’s Of Montreal, and there’s Menomena.”

So how did it do? With little advertising outside of his store’s mailing list, Levin says about 40 people showed up, and the store did $500 worth of business…Levin says it wasn’t just the drawing power of the Portland, Ore.-based indie pop act. He points to the recent closure of Tower Records, a chain that was known for its weekly midnight sales, as having a slight impact on his reasoning.

“There was some post-Tower mentality to our decision,” he says. “But to come back to midnight sales after going away from them was kind of a no-brainer. Let’s give it a shot. It’s how a lot of stores now look at vinyl. Vinyl went away, and now it’s this wonderful new trend.”

We’re all for any practice that gets people in the stores, especially when it brings back our own fond memories of lining up to buy Use Your Illusion II, Pinkerton, and Tha Doggfather (not all in one night, thank god). But we were shocked to find that one Shins-shilling retailer used to the midnight sale to move nearly $2,300 of merchandise in just one hour. That must have been part of a very special “Buy the Shins, get a free shiv” promotion.

New Shins album prompts return of midnight sales [Billboard via Reuters]

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  1. Paul D

    Heheh, the last midnight on-sale I went to was for Radiohead’s Kid A.

    The last one before that was either Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral or Pearl Jam’s 2nd album.

    Ah…memories…

  2. kerry

    We bought that Of Montreal album on vinyl over the weekend and after we brought it home we discovered our purchase entitled us to one free digital copy of the album online. Our usual course of action is to buy the album on vinyl and get the digital through less legitimate means, but it’s sort of a pain in the ass and makes me feel bad. Getting that digital copy legitimately is a pretty big incentive to pick up the vinyl, and would encourage me to buy more new stuff (and show up at midnight for the stuff I care about).

  3. Chris Molanphy

    Thanks for the memories of the Use Your Illusion midnight sale. God, was I ever that young? I remember one buddy showing up with me to buy ABBA Gold instead of GnR, just to fuck with the clerks.

    But Pinkerton? You seriously remember a midnight sale for that? I thought the whole Weezer story was that Pinkerton, at release in ’96, totally flopped; but then it sold steadily and quietly for five years, making new Weezer fans out of teenagers and priming them for the Green Album comeback. For that album, I remember midnight sales and lines around the block at Tower – and a legion of 30something rock critics with mouths agape.

  4. Brian Raftery

    Well, Pinkerton was part of a store-wide, “everything new on Tuesday is on sale tonight!” sale. I think I was there for Pinkerton, and my roommate was there for that terrible Dre-produced Aftermath album. Everything in central Pennsylvania warrants a midnight sale, as there is nothing else to do.

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