Thursday, April 16, 2009

RATE IT! Record Store Day ~ April 18

When was the last time you walked into an HMV, or better yet, an independent music shop and purchased a record? A CD? If you're like most music fans today, it's probably been awhile. More & more music shops -- record stores, to date myself -- are shutting their doors, forever. Fans use iTunes or other online sites to grab their musical kicks so the old saunter into your local shop is sadly a dying excursion.

Growing up, we would hit every single record shop in downtown Toronto, hunting for imported vinyl, then later CDs... trying to discover the latest release before other rabid music fans got their mitts on them. Eventually, the smaller outlets began to close with the move towards CDs leaving fewer & fewer establishments to choose from. Shift ahead to the '90s, and close friends took the plunge, owning an import-only CD shop, where snobby music opinions from the staff, and listening to releases before purchase were the name of the game. Want someone to sneer at your popular Take That album? You came to the right place! Snarky musos aside, the banter was all in fun and you'd come away with not only an album you were thrilled to own, but a lively experience that never, ever happened at the big boys' shops (I'm looking at you, HMV). It's a shame that their shop only lasted for a few years before it too crumbled under the weight of burgeoning internet music retailers. The tangible shopping experience for music has almost completely vanished, not just here in Canada but also the US and the UK. Add in troubling times for the big guns, HMV and Virgin and the disease is rampant.

In 2007, some enterprising Americans keen on an attempt to slow down the demise of independent music shops began 'Record Store Day' on the third Saturday in April. This year, that date lands on April 18. The survivors of local, independent music stores are offering special deals with the help of a few famous friends. Metallica, Franz Ferdinand, Tom Waits, the Dandy Warhols and others, are offering their support plus rare releases to mark the occasion. 

It's a bittersweet celebration. One day a year might not be enough to stop the closure of indies worldwide, but at least it's something, to bring back those warm memories of what a joy it was to shop for music in person. I know that it's been about a year since I bought a CD in a store, and over a decade since I purchased vinyl, so I too am to blame for the current state of affairs. Web shopping or iTunes usage is just so much easier when you're busy or don't have ready access to a music store in your area. It's refreshing to hear that there are independent hold-outs still doing a fair trade. Hopefully 'Record Store Day' enlightens the iPod generation into what gems are held behind bricks and mortar as opposed to internet firewalls. 

(photo: Google image)

1 comment:

Darren said...

Love this! Right - I'm buying Kraftwerk vinyl this weekend !!

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