Record Store Day Ambassador Amber Lawrence Talks Country & Community Spirit

18 April 2015
Read Time: 2.9 mins

Record stores were supposed to have gone the way of the dodo and bell-bottom jeans. If video killed the radio star, then surely digital downloads would kill physical album sales, right?

The reality is anything but, with record stores across the globe enjoying a resurgence thanks in no small part to a vinyl boom that shows no signs of slowing down.

Such is the renaissance, a special day was conceived to celebrate these bastions of the music community, and 2015 Record Store Day Australia ambassador Amber Lawrence says that record stores remain a key component of the music industry.

 Will you be hunting for vinyl today? (Getty)

“They’re very important because it allows you that luxury of browsing through aisles and speaking to store owners so you know more about what’s great music than perhaps the Top 10 would indicate," says the amiable Country singer.

“I think record stores are great especially for artists like me who are not on the mainstream Top 10 charts but still kind of hope that people will find our music somehow," she adds.

Lawrence recently released her fourth album, Superheroes, and recorded much of it in one of the spiritual heartlands of Country music - Nashville, Tennessee.

“Nashville is such an inspiring city because... we’ve got just as talented people here in Australia, but they’ve got more of it given the population," Lawrence explains.

"So you’re just surrounded by huge amounts of talent and it inspired me to make sure my songs could live up to that.

“Everywhere you go, you’d hear great music and people living the dream – or trying to live the dream – and it makes you value what you’ve got as an artist back here in Australia."

 Amber Lawrence is a Record Store Day Australia ambassador

Lawrence, who once travelled extensively while working in corporate finance for Qantas, has since seen plenty of the world on her adventures as a successful singer/songwriter.

“Last year I went to Egypt to sing for the troops over there," Lawrence says. "I’ve sung in Canada, I’ve sung in America, I’ve done quite a lot of Asian countries, but I’ve only done Europe when I was 22, so perhaps I really do need to go back there!”

Lawrence says she owes much of her early success to a record store owner who was happy to promote her music at the first opportunity.

“There’s a record store owner in Canberra whose name is Brian Harris (of Songland Records) and he’s part of Record Store Day.

“He suggested I’d be a good ambassador because I guess I’m an example of how a record store could really help move units of your album just through word-of-mouth.

“He sold over a hundred copies of my first album and it just continued to progress from there, purely by telling his customers how much he enjoyed my music and how much they would enjoy it."

 Record Store Day is Christmas for collectors (Getty)

Lawrence says it's the community spirit that keeps fans coming back to record stores - and finding new music.

“That’s the benefit of a record store and that’s what I love about them.

“You don’t get that when you go online. I buy music digitally, of course, but when you go there you don’t get a first-hand recommendation from somebody who is at the forefront.”

The Country music star, who this year shares her Record Store Day ambassador duties with popular saxophonist Joe Camilleri, says that record stores benefit more than just their owners.

“There’s a three-way win with record stores," Lawrence explains. "Artists win. Music lovers win because they're going to hear music that perhaps is off their radar but is probably really good music. And then record stores win, because they are passionate music retailers out there who still want to sell physical albums.”

 Lawrence has recently released her fourth album

In a career going swimmingly for Lawrence - she was recently announced the female artist of the year at the CMAA Golden Guitar Awards - about the only mishap has been a recent 'wardrobe faux pas' ahead of The Championships at Royal Randwick.

“It’s totally my fault… it’s not Randwick’s fault,” says Lawrence of being turned away at the gate for failing to meet the dress requirements.

“I’ve been to the members' (section) many times but this time I had a nice new little playsuit that I thought with stockings and long sleeves and closed shoes would be classy enough.

"But the rules do state that you can’t wear shorts and I kind of just didn’t connect that shorts were part of a playsuit.

“I was told that I wasn’t allowed, so I just went home and got a new dress!”

No diva antics then from the popular Record Store Day advocate? Not on your life.

Her latest album may be called Superheroes, but this is one music star with her feet firmly on the ground.

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Mike Tuckerman

From Europe to Asia and many places in between, there's rarely a town or city I've not enjoyed exploring. When I'm not wandering the streets and discovering new destinations, you can usually find me hanging out with the locals at major sporting events.