In the rush of excitement that followed the explosion of music downloading in the wake of the original Napster and Kazaa, and then the birth of legal services like iTunes and the rest, we sometimes fail to take into account the toll this has all had on record stores (yah I realize that they sell CDs but I call them record stores out of habit and choice).
My geek instincts positively revel at the thought of being able to download all kinds of music, legally, from the comfort of my home computer, especially of those indie bands that are hard to find these days and even The Rock and Roll Report has become an Amazon affiliate. And I’m not denying the laziness factor inherent in all of this but will this be the final nail in the coffin of the struggling indie record store?
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer article Downloading Music a Blow to Retailers this could very well be the result. Now I am not so concerned with the Wallmarts or other big box retailers so much as the cool independent record stores that are still vital to the kinds of bands that I, and a large number of people, like and want to support. Have you even been to a record store lately?
I gotta admit that I don’t go as often as I should and even then it’s to a place like Future Shop for heaven’s sake! Walking into a funky little record store is so much fun because of the sense of musical adventure that permeates the place. Posters featuring bands you’ve never heard of. Racks upon racks of cool looking CDs that you won’t see anywhere else. And the people. The people that work there are a veritable encyclopedia of cool rock and roll (or hip hop, electronica, dance whatever turns your crank) that are absolutely fascinating to talk to. Even the other shoppers are fun to kibbutz with.
But most of all, small indie record stores are run by people that live and breath music. How refreshing compared to dealing with Gladys at the local Wallmart who was transferred from housewares just last week. We can’t turn back the clock and pretend that music downloading isn’t here to stay because it is, but we do have the power to take a bus ride over to our local cool record store and pick up a couple of CDs maybe once or twice a month.
You’d be amazed at the value human contact adds to the whole music buying experience, something you definitely can’t get in front of any computer that I know of. Go to Record Store Finder and then go shopping this weekend. Your local record store could certainly use the business and you will have a heck of a lot of fun once you get there. Try and download that!