to eleven

Gearing up for disappointment. by Jayson

As Cleveland based Gotta Groove Records just reminded me, this Saturday is national Record Store Day.

It’s going to suck. At least it will for me.

Part of it is that in the last five or six years, there’s been what amounts to a record store apocalypse in northeast Ohio. The mighty local chain of Quonset Hut folded up due to mismanagement. My Generation’s owner wanted to retire and sold it off. Timetravler closed it’s Kent location, etc. etc. There are still some good ones out there, but it’s a different landscape. A good record store is a thing of a major city now, the smaller places like Akron and Canton are now almost totally bereft.

The other part of it is the internet. There’s the obvious there, people are just not as interested in music on physical formats as they used to be. That ends up hurting the small shops way more than Best Buy who can still afford to stock a good number of CDs. We’ve all heard pretty much everything there is to hear about that. The writing is on the wall. The less obvious thing about the internet is how it’s put more music in front of us. It has had a huge leveling effect on record labels and bands. This has also been said over and over, but it’s really a thing. Bands and labels that would have been regional phenomena are now able to garner national and even international notice (each to their individual extent). Basically there is now more stuff now that you never would have heard of before, than ever before.

So what does that have to do with the record store? Well now we’re looking at a question of ” is there going to be anything I want at the record store?” For me the answer has been “probably not” for the last 5 years or so.* If you want a thing on a major, Best Buy probably has it. Even if its on a major indie, there is still an 80% chance of the Buy having it. Since the mom n’ pop stores have more limited budgets and have to have a more limited inventory, they’re pretty much confined to the major indie releases (if they’re trying just to be an ‘indie’ store.) Of course they’ll say ‘We can order it for you’, but what’s the point? You can order it yourself. They’re not going to have anything put out by super limited type labels like Utech or Taiga. You might find maybe two 20 Buck Spin releases, if any. Realistically they’re not even going to have the more ‘minor’ releases on Hydrahead.

So unless you live in a major metro area, Record Store Day is more or less pointless.

Which is a shame, because going to to the record store was fun. You used to be able to find stuff you liked, you got to meet new people and maybe befriend them, or see some weird characters, maybe have a decent conversation about some band. It’s difficult not to feel something major has been lost there, but it’s also really difficult to summon up the motivation to go to the record store, being almost certain you’re just going to waste gas doing so.

– Jayson

*(This is more a problem of me than Jason, since he loves both the local scene, and is able to find stuff he’s interested in at the indie record store in Akron, but I digress.)


2 Comments so far
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I’m traveling out to Cleveland to see the Mountain Goats movie, The Life of the World to Come, at the Beachland. I’m going to stop by Music Saves afterwards.

Comment by jason

I’m of two minds about the fate of the record store. On one hand, without a good shop, you miss out on those accidental finds — seeing something that catches your eye and ends up being a great piece of music.

On the other, the biggest thing to me about the record store was the ability to listen to stuff. Go in, pick up a few new releases and a couple of others out of curiosity, go back to the listening station, and hand them to some kid who pops them open for you to listen through; maybe walk away with half of them on a good day. But really the internet does a pretty damn good job of that — even better really, since I can do it whenever I happen to think of something.

I guess it’s one of those things where 95% of the value of the thing I don’t need any more, but I’ll miss that 5% all the same.

Comment by ymatt

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