In this article we’ll be discussing the most important we’re fighting for. That, of course, is the independent record store. We started this website to be an advocate to the independent record store and to do everything in our power to promote them.
It’s very easy to focus on the doom and gloom of the record store industry. The facts are all out there. It’s not an easy market right now and the current recession doesn’t help things.
With this article we will not be discussing any of that. What we’ll be talking about are the positives of the independent record store, and why they’re so essential to all communities.
Two things are certain when it comes to music retail: people will always love music, and they will always have a want for it. From the days of the wax cylinder to iTunes, music has been purchased in several different formats. However, where we obtain the music remained unchanged until the mid-90s.
Many will argue that there is no needs for record stores. We couldn’t disagree more.
The digital marketplace is the equivalent of a strip club. Sure, it looks good. But the music sounds like shit. And you can’t touch anything. A dollar bill would get you a quick thrill in both places. But you’re not taking anything home with you.
Here’s a list of some of the things that iTunes, no matter how hard they try, will never be able to reproduce.
Physical music: All iTunes is selling is the license to play a song. If your computer crashes, is stolen, or inaccessible, your music is gone. Tough shit. If you can’t touch it, if you cant see it, it doesn’t exist.
Sound quality: Try as they may, the digital standard is still selling compressed mp3 crap-quality recordings. Sure they’re many others offering WAV and lossless files that claim to be able to compete with CD, or even vinyl. But as it stands right now, it would take a long time, if ever, to duplicate that technology.
Recommendations: Apple, you can keep your keyword search recommendations. The only recommendations are based on what you previously bought and whatever hot seller they’re trying to cram down our throat. True recommendation should come from people who not only love music but live for it. That is the people at the record store. The big chains can’t compete with this either. The dumbass who has a wet dream every time he hears auto tune has no idea what to recommend when you mentioned you love the new Kimya Dawson album.
So let’s talk about the positives from the independent record stores and some of the things that are going well.
Record Store Day is the day we all come together to celebrate independent record stores. Celebrated the third Saturday in April, Record Store Day continues to grow every year all over the world. Along with special releases, almost all on vinyl, many artists come out and do in-store performances. The holiday started later than it should, so much damage had already been done before the organization materialized, but they have single-handedly brought more attention to the problem than any other group.
Stores are embracing the online community. No we’re not discussing online record stores. Although they promote physical music, they do not offer the special community feeling that a brick-and-mortar store can offer. Truth is, many record stores gave up selling CDs and LPs online, simply because they could compete with sites like eBay or Amazon.
What many stores are doing thou is embracing social media. Bringing in customers is all about connecting and if the last few years have taught us anything, social media is the most important key. By promoting in store performances and special releases, they’re driving customers back to their stores. They’re networking with other shops and people all over the country. Social marketing is quickly becoming more than just an option, it is becoming a necessity.
In-store events are becoming more popular, whether it be a new local band or just a simple listening party, more stores are looking for ways to become a destination. The true magic of a record store can only be experienced first-hand. Artists who grew up and loved record stores are promoting them again.
Even some labels are pushing their acts to get back into the record stores and talk with people who can sell their products most effectively. As always, people want to connect with their favorite band or artists. Artist recommendations to purchase music from independent stores matter to many. If this trend continues to grow, it can only help record store sales.
To a lesser degree, but worth mentioning, is that digital backlash. It is amazing to see young people, some who grew up in the digital generation, coming into a record store for the first time. Some are hipsters who are just bucking the trend for the sake of elitism. Some simply love the format. Others, like ourselves, are tired of paying for something that cannot be owned or physically touched. We learned our lesson at the strip club.
It may be a small market, but it has more than anything re-energized the need for vinyl. It is no doubt that the record store business has changed substantially. There are many factors to blame and the future is not as bleak as many thought it would be. Now, while it is easy to point out all the news of the stores that are closing, one forgets to realize that some are expanding and opening. Perhaps things are not as grim as everyone thought.
There is no guaranteed business model for the independent record store anymore. The avenues for people to buy or not buy music are everywhere. However people will always love music. People will always buy music. And it’s up to everyone: store owners, labels, artists, parents, teachers, everyone to show them which way is best—the record store.
Thank you for being part of the revolution.
We want to hear from you. Like what we’re doing? Are your panties in a twist and you want to defend your iTunes purchases? Let us have it. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org