Record Store Day 2019: 3-inch singles

There are plenty of interesting items scheduled to be released on Record Store Day 2019, which falls on April 13th this year. I am thrilled to see that the vinyl resurgence has not faded away, as some people predicted it would by this time. But I must say I am surprised to see a whole new vinyl record medium being offered this year: the 3-inch single. That's right. These tiny records, which are not quite half the width of the familiar 7-inch single, are able to hold up to four minutes of music. But can they be played on a regular turntable? Apparently not. Special miniature turntables designed to play these records are also going to be offered for sale on Record Store Day this year. Not surprisingly, Jack White's Third Man label is at the forefront of the (re-)birth of this vinyl novelty.

Here are the details about the 3-inch singles and mini-turntables from Third Man Records, from their website:

3-inch records were originally released and marketed for a short time in Japan in the early 2000s, just before the worldwide re-birth of vinyl began to take hold. The White Stripes produced eight singles on 3” record in 2005 alongside an Inchophone turntable. The highly coveted vinyl records — only available on the Get Behind Me Satan tour (with the exception of “Denial Twist” which was and remains only attainable as a personal gift from Jack White) — go for top dollar in the secondary market.

Fast forward to 2019, the idea of resurrecting the format stemmed from a trip to Japan when representatives of Record Store Day met the only factory that used to make these “8ban” records and as such the RSD3 Mini Turntable by Crosley was born with its special edition Third Man Records Triple Inchophone, available at Third Man Records Nashville and Detroit storefronts on Record Store Day. Third Man Records is happy to use the rebirth of this format as a welcomed excuse to release an exclusive box set of six 3” records containing selections from the White Stripes singles back catalog that have not been previously available on 3" record (only available at Third Man Records storefronts), as well as 4 additional label selections, available in mystery sleeves only at RSD participating record stores around the world.

The six new White Stripes singles available in the box set are “Let’s Shake Hands”, “Lafayette Blues”, “The Big Three Killed My Baby”, “Hello Operator”, “Lord, Send Me an Angel” and “Conquest”.

The four Third Man Records artist singles available in blind boxes at participating RSD record stores are: The Raconteurs “Store Bought Bones”, The Dead Weather “Be Still”, Jack White “Love Interruption” and The White Stripes “Candy Cane Children”.

The previous singles for sale in 2005 are “Top Special,” “Hotel Yorba,“ “Blue Orchid,” “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” “The Hardest Button to Button,” “Fell In Love With A Girl,” and “Seven Nation Army.”

In addition to these Third Man titles, the Epitaph label also will be releasing four titles on 3-inch single on Record Store Day 2019: "She's Kerosene" by the Interrupters, "My Sanity" by Bad Religion, "Dip" by Culture Abuse, and "Ruby Soho" by Rancid.

Here's a clever sales gimmick: Third Man and Epitaph will each be releasing their four selected artist singles in "blindbox" packaging -- meaning that you won't know exactly which single you're buying until you have purchased it and opened it! The RSD website tells us, "you better Collect ‘Em All!"

Record Store Day co-founder Michael Kurtz describes the mini-turntable this way:

“We demonstrated it at CES in January, and a lot of journalists picked it as the coolest item there. We spent a lot of time developing the turntable — it’s a moving magnetic cartridge, belt-driven, it has RCA outs so you can plug it into your stereo, and it sounds fantastic through the stereo — but it’s pretty affordably priced. Stores will probably sell it between $60-70, and each one comes with a Foo Fighters record.”

Kurtz is probably referring to the Foo Fighters song "Big Me", because that song is also being issued on a 3-inch Record Store Day single.

At first glance, it seems unlikely that the 3-inch record will become a lasting and popular phenomenon. Then again, some people said the same thing about the vinyl record resurgence.