My flatmate happen to have on Channel4 news today and I saw a segment about Record Store day. The general concept is that the independent record stores are losing out to the big stores, supermarkets and ultimately the internet. They have a lot of support from the record labels including Warner Music and others.
Anyway I can't work out if this is,
- simply a idea thought up by the record industry
- A idea brought together by independent record shops and now jumped upon by record labels
I'm a fan of independent stores generally, Bristol doesn't even have a independent record shop anymore. How tragic is that, specially with its background in dance music. and there is a real threat which is shutting down the independent store. But its not that simple, I think there missing something.
- The mass record chains are closing down or at least feeling the pitch from dropping sales
- The supermarkets are eating the lunch of the record chains and they don't give a crap about independent music.
- The internet is a threat but it depends how you look at it.
- The internet isn't just about itunes, napster, amazon, hmv, etc.
- There are tons of niche/independent online music stores such as Juno and my current number one Audiojelly.
- Music discovery is still mainly a social thing. Last.FM, Pandora, Blip.FM,etc.
The above smells to me like a opportunity to claw back the music lovers. Supermarkets do the plain mass and independents can cater for the rest of the market. Its not a huge market but you don't need to make a killing. I'm never going to be able to buy the excellent tune Roundabout by Sam Sharp at HMV, but I can find it at AudioJelly.
One of the advantages independent shops tout is the music discovery, and they do have a slight point but in actual fact I remember queing for ages to listen to the stack of vinyl which I had picked out, when I use to be a vinyl dj. But on the other hand yes there is a nice selection of different music in one place plus you can speak to people for recommendations. Trance like a lot of dance music has embraced the digital world quicker that other types of music. A lot of the djs, make there own music, play there own music and own there own record labels, so they have become like a brand.
The perfect example is Armin Van Buuren (voted number one dj in 2008). He owns 2 or maybe 3 record labels including Armind, plays sets all over the world, creates many remixes and creates his own works. Not only all that but he also has a instanly popular radio show which is syndicated all over the planet and a weekly podcast. Yep he must be the original flying dutchman. Point is that he's filling in the gap of music discovery. Gareth Emery is a regular trance podcast I found by clicking podcasts in AudioJelly.com. The link doesn't end there however. Every week after the podcast, creates a playlist for the mix. So I can identify tunes just by there running order and better still buy it right there.
If independant Record stores are to stick around, there going to have to stop thinking about themsleves as in the game selling pieces of vinyl. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly. But maybe a start is providing the ability to get digital downloads at high speeds in the store. Not because customers need high speed internet access (don't get me started on net cafes) but because they want advice, maybe?
Imagine a store so progressive that it has card readers, ipod docks and a bluetooth network. A place where the music matters and the format isn't important.