Monday, April 20, 2009

on record store day.

Much has been said about Record Store Day. It happened over the weekend and I'm simultaneously glad and disappointed to say that I didn't make it to the record store. However, I don't think that I'll say much better than Ian over at Topspin/Fistfulayen did. Please allow me, however, to add my own two cents.

I think that I've written about this before, and I know that I'm not adding anything to the chorus that's already been voiced, lovership is a different thing nowadays than it was back in the day.

The kinds of distinct memories that Ian shares are the exact same thing that I have. I love the clarity with which I remember going to Washington, D.C. with my 8th grade class and the record store that we stopped in and we all bought copies of ...And Out Come the Wolves. It was a pivotal point in my life. When I was in high school, my dad was pretty willing to buy me anything I wanted, so I used to buy and sell CD's and comics, straight from the store to the kids at school. The soundtrack to the Crow sequel was a popular seller, as well as, of course, Rancid.

It was such an integral part of life: buy CD from record store, go home, pour over liner notes, and listen to the whole thing on a great stereo through headphones, at least two times, more likely three or four, if not sometimes five. We would all repeat this process and then we would, of course, make tape copies for all our friends, pass them on, and obsess over the copies they made for us.

The process of going to the record store, of paying too much for the CD, of opening the packaging to carefully, of taking out the stupid sensor for each store...these things were all part of the ritual. I loved discovering new record shops, too. Of course, there were always the chains, like Hastings, and Warehouse Music, and big box stores like Wal-Mart and Circuit City and Best Buy, but those were always the places to find the mainstream crap at low prices, not the places where you could find the good stuff, even if you had to pay a lot more. We had great places (and still do have a handful) in Albuquerque, including Record Roundup, and Natural Sound and the deceased Bow Wow Records. (Semi-funny anecdote: Bow Wow was featured in Rolling Stone as the local buying place, like, two weeks before it closed down. It was always the best in Albuquerque and it's definitely missed.) These places had real people staffing the counters and they were always willing to shoot the shit about music, giving recommendations (like when they told my girlfriend to buy me the new Sufjan Stevens disc and when Bow Wow was repping the Shins when they were still an Albuquerque band before they ditched us for Portland) to the people who were looking to spend money.

I miss riffing with the people behind the counter. But I don't miss the hipster-snobby attitude when I would dare to ask them for something mainstream or not know the exact record label upon which the band first appeared. I don't miss the inconvenience of going there to get the product and it not being there. I don't miss buying a whole CD when I really only want a track or two or three. I don't miss the drag of having the buy the CD, make copies for my friends, rip it to my computer, and put it on my iPod. I'm a fan of the digital age (especially now that we've at least kind of gotten rid of DRM) and grabbing new music on the fly, trying it out, and then paying for what's good. I don't mind paying. In fact, I like it. But I'm not willing to throw my money away anymore.

I'll miss record stores when they're gone. But it's a failed model.

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