The rise of downloaded music has not only made iTunes the number one music store in America and threatened the entire business model for corporate record labels, it has put a horrific beating on record stores–chain and independents alike. While many chains (Tower Records, Sam Goodies) have already bit the dust, many independents are still managing to hold on.
A recent article on the Princeton (NJ) Record Exchange profiled a proud independent that is making a go by catering to audiophiles that prefer vinyl records, employing insanely knowledgeable clerks and being a cool place to hang. Independents may have a better chance than chains to be the last holdouts for boomers that prefer to buy records rather than download mp3 files. All the chains can offer is a huge selection–but that’s the internet’s main advantage. Literally anything can be found online. But you can’t feel like part of a community, get a cup of coffee and discuss the merits of dub v. dancehall reggae online. Well, you can–but it’s not as satisfying.
A coalition of independent record stores have designated April 19th as Record Store Day and hundreds of stores across the country are participating with sales and in-store performances. So, on Saturday, go check out the best local record store: Soundgarden on Walton St. in Armory Square.
I will be celebrating all the memorable record stores that I’ve hung out in in my life:
Camelot Music in the Fayetteville Mall. In the 1970’s they ran a discount promotion for an album of the week if you brought in three candy bar wrappers (feeding two of my addictions.)
Gerber Music, a store that I spent a goodly amount of money in at all of their locations, but who fired me from their Fairmount Fair location for my persistent inability to run the cash register and for turning up the volume on Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” to earbleed level.
Plastic Fantastic on the Penn campus where I trolled the used bins every week.
Spectrum Records at S.U., especially when it was located in a since demolished house on University Ave., for making me feel like a sophisticated and cool college student, even when I was a wannabe high schooler.
Record Theatre on both the SU campus and on Erie Boulevard. They used to give out trading stamps that you pasted into a booklet that gave you a discount on completion. Wednesday’s were always the day to go, because it was “double lick” day, twice the normal number of stamps!