Variety reports that Tower Records can’t pay its bills. So labels are holding off on sending it new stuff, which will probably make things worse, since new releases are typically the only CDs Tower sells at a reasonable price.
This is really about the death of the record store. I had been noticing the dwindling of the independent record store and small chains for years: Moby Disc, Penny Lane, Pyramid Music. (While I’m pointing out cool places, I see Poobah’s is still alive.)
And you know what? I’m to blame. Since subscribing to Rhapsody, I haven’t bought anything from a record store. Because when I step into a record store now, I feel nothing. No excitement, no sense of wonderment. Pretty much any music I want I can get on Rhapsody, and if I can’t get it, I’ll just browse and find something else I want. I took my first trip to Amoeba Music the other day, which in my college years would have been nothing short of a religious experience (just ask ZBalance). But I just looked around and thought, why bother? I can get all this stuff on-demand for my $10/month. Amoeba has a great DVD section, too, but I’ve got Netflix, so that does nothing for me, either.
Here’s the tricky part. As Rob Gordon might say, I’m a better “professional appreciator” because of it. I can find cool new things much easier, and explore them in much greater depth. When I find a band or artist I like, I generally listen to their whole catalog, especially if they’re a known influencer. If it’s something I might not like, I can just take a quick listen, fast forwarding and skipping through parts or tracks I don’t want to hear. I have become the audio equivalent of Galactus: Devourer of Discs, Eater of Albums.
So what replaces the cool record store? A so-called “lifestyle store”, with cool books, clothes, posters, toys, and other geegaws? Sounds almost like Urban Outfitters, now that I mention it. Still, it’s no Vintage Vinyl (which also appears to have passed on).