July 18, 2006

The Death of the Record Store

The music industry has been whining for years about the effects of filesharing on music sales, but I have a hard time working up much sympathy. And successes like iTunes Store sales make it clear that big corporations will find a way to play postmodernist conditions into new markets. But filesharing, coupled with the rise of online music sales, have one effect not much reported on the media: the slow death of indie music stores [NYT article]:

At Norman’s, which is 15 years old and just around the corner from New York’s epicenter of punk, St. Marks Place, shoppers with nose rings and dewy cheeks are not unknown. But they may only be looking to use the automatic teller machine. A pair of teenagers — he with ink-black dyed hair, and she in ragged camouflage shorts — wandered in one evening recently and promptly froze in the doorway, stopped in their tracks by an Isaac Hayes cut from the 70’s.

They had the confused looks of would-be congregants who had stumbled into a church of the wrong denomination; they quickly shuffled off. Most of Norman’s other customers were old enough to remember eight-track tapes. Steven Russo, 53, for instance, was looking for jazz CD’s. Mr. Russo, a high school teacher in Valley Stream, N.Y., said that he values the store for its sense of camaraderie among cognoscenti as much as its selection. “It’s the ability of people to talk to people about the music, to talk to personnel who are knowledgeable,” he said.

I bought my first vinyl at our tiny, rural town's drugstore (the kind of place that served vanilla cokes and strawberry malteds). I think it was a 45 of Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" b/w Elton and John Lennon doing "I Saw Her Standing There" live. I can't say there was a huge sense of "camaraderie among cognoscenti" at Braun's Pharmacy, but the NYT article kind of bummed me out.

Posted by johndanseven at July 18, 2006 11:16 AM | TrackBack