Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Death of Music Retail

Even though I have benefits and more pay, I have to be honest with myself and admit that the times I have been happiest on the job have been when working at a record store.

Not because of the free promos, or free tickets, but because for those of us without musical talent, it was a way of paying homage to what we loved.

I worked at three stores (including the fabled Record Co-Op on the campus of the University of Maryland) and the only one I didn't enjoy was a chain store. That said, even those "bad" days on the job seem pretty good as I sit in an office and go mad.

So it's with heavy heart that I read this article forwarded to me from a friend and former record store boss.

The Virgin Megastore in NYC's Times Square is closing.

In 1998, when I first went there, that was the most interesting thing there as Mayor Rudy had cleaned up all of the interesting -- read "dangerous" -- theaters in that area. Times Square was now simply another strip mall with a higher rental rate for retail.

I think this picture says it all; who the fuck is going to go to a record store to buy The Fray? The people that buy stuff that bland -- so bland they make Nickelback look like AC/DC -- either buy it at Walmart or simply buy it as a download from iTunes.

I liked the Virgin Megastore even while finding their prices a bit high; it was an awesome feeling just to be able to browse the import section and find albums that were less than a week old and fresh from England; they certainly got product stocked in that section much faster than Tower Records did, and almost faster than ordering from an online retailer in those days.

I think I got one of The Supernaturals albums there when it was fairly new. It was overpriced but I lucked out as both of the band's studio albums are mini-masterpieces of mainstream pop -- like Crowded House only Scottish -- and certainly worth the $30 I probably paid for the single CD. This song is from their 2nd album, released in 1998, A Tune A Day.

The Supernaturals "I Wasn't Built To Get Up"