Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Remembering Music Record Stores

John Marine | 4/21/2010 07:30:00 PM | | |
(UPDATED: March 13, 2017)
Remember when purchasing albums and exploring many kinds of music was as "simple" as going to the music record store? Where are most of them now? Changing times have led to most people doing their music shopping on the Internet (not just through iTunes). Most of the real music stores have died out, gone bankrupt, gone out of business, closed down, you name it. So where can you get most music nowadays? At a Walmart, a Target, a Best Buy, a Borders book store... any of those besides a proper record store, of course! There is a fallacy to this, as I am sure to exploit in this blog entry.


MAR 13 2017 - complete overhaul and edit of post

Let's set the mood with some pictures I've found online:

music record store closing
^ from: - That's the scene- music stores closing down. Hardly a lot of people care about keeping most music record stores open, feeling relegated to shop for music and music instruments online (or go really far away from home, of course).

^ from: - So much for your chances of getting that CD from an artist from a genre mainstream types don't care about. You're SOL (so out of luck). Better hope and pray Walmart or a Target has the music you're looking for... if they'll ever get there.

What I Miss Most About Music Stores

There's a reason you go to a music store- to purchase CDs, records, or whatever. There's a reason you go to a proper music store- to explore many kinds of music and find songs for almost any genre you love. You see, true music stores (not music sections at electronics stores or electronics sections of major retailers) are for real music people. It's for people who want to enjoy music they can't find at any major retailer.

Here is a video I found explaining why music record stores are a dying breed:

Why Do I Miss Music Record Stores?

The biggest reason is because I just miss not being able to find music from artists I really like and from genres I really like. It fills a void where most major retailers fail to realize (or care) exist. Not everyone is into the mainstream music all the time. Because not all great music people love is on the radio or on TV, that's why we have music stores.

Here in the Houston/Galveston area, we have had an independent music store chain called Soundwaves. There used to be one just a few streets from my house. That Soundwaves moved on to someplace heading down towards a once-good mall. The Soundwaves there had been converted to a Car Stereo place that has been around for at least five years. I've been to a Soundwaves across the street from Baybrook Mall in Friendswood, Texas, USA. I think that store is still there, but there isn't as much music there as there is surfing stuff. The Soundwaves I visited on Montrose in southwest Houston represents what I've really missed about music stores and the fun of going to one. Here is a picture of the Soundwaves store in question:

Soundwaves Houston
^ from: - The Soundwaves store on Montrose in southwestern Houston.

This specific Soundwaves is the big one that also houses ADV Films (defunct since 2008), Houston's elite Animé studio. I could find a great variety of music from many different genres. If I wanted a vinyl record, I could actually get one because Soundwaves is a place that cares about music much more than any music section of major retail chains. Places like Walmart and Target and such do very little to point you towards real music from many more artists/groups of many more genres.

The fact that most music stores are no longer with us makes me feel proud that I don't have to relegate myself to the Internet. It's not so much that I'm not into shopping for music on the Internet, it's just that I hate feeling relegated to be on the Internet just to look for music most major retailers are too scared or don't feel compelled enough to feature in a music section of a store. Think about it like this. I'm a fan of electronic dance music for the most part. I go to a Walmart to try to find songs from the genre I love most, and I'm not going to be very pleased with what I find. Music like this from a genre like this is almost nonexistent. Two possible reasons why is because (1) not everyone listens to the kind of music most non-mainstream types like, and (2) no mainstreamer is really interested in non-mainstream music. So if you go to a major store (like a Walmart or a Target), the only music you can listen to and enjoy are from people and groups people actually know. Maybe also music from genres people know about that are popular among the mainstream.

One such problem I have with the dying music record store industry (or completely dead to most people) is that you can't explore real music. Trust me- you don't know what you're missing when you go to a true music store and explore songs from artists and groups you may or may not have heard of. Some of the best electronic dance music CDs I have did NOT come from a Walmart. Instead, they mostly came from the true music stores I visited. At least when I go to a music store, I have a better chance of finding music from an artist/group and a genre I really like. You just don't get this at your average Walmart or Target. And in the case of stores like [especially] Walmart, most of their stuff is too censor-happy. I think getting uncensored versions (if any) feature the full emotion and impact of the original song. That's even if the song has lots of cursing, some real vocals, words that will have your mother wash your mouth out with soap, calling females bad and derogatory words, and the like. It's the way the song was meant to be played even if it's too explicit to be on the shelves of a please-everybody major retailer. If you want to explore real music, you can't just look to major retailers. Instead, you have to visit dedicated music stores. So many of the real music stores, however, are about as dead as the dinosaurs.

The Internet Way of Buying Music

I have nothing against stuff like iTunes. My problem is just that I don't want to just go online for music. I think purchasing physical copies of CDs is better than just purchasing a certain song you like. You're not really showing any love for an artist/group if you just pick out a few songs you like. There's going to be at least one song you're not going to like out of all of them on a CD. Likewise, there will be at least one song you'll love more than any other. What justice are you doing by just purchasing a single song? If you love an artist's CD and its songs so much, THAT'S WHY YOU GET THE DAMN CD! It is convenient knowing that you can actually go online and purchase a CD or songs from a CD without having to leave home. Or (if you're blessed with mobile devices), be able to order songs and CDs right from your mobile device rather than have to go to a music store. You may download music to your mobile device or have stuff ordered to your house.

While there's nothing wrong with this, I just think that you don't single out (let alone disregard) the music store. Before the whole download era started up proper, what we had was the music store. You get a better appreciation for music by going to a music store rather than going to the music SECTION of a department store. Stores like FYE, Camelot Music, Wherehouse Music, and (your favorite local music store) will ALWAYS have a better selection of music than almost any music section of any department store or specialty store.

My Lessons to You and a Message to Mainstream Stores

What is all of my blabber about? You're about to find out.

What Was Lost in Translation from Traditional Music Stores to Download Music Stores?

The biggest loss is the fact that traditional music stores that sell music of many varieties have been phased out by department stores. I wouldn't have gotten the two CDs I picked up from Soundwaves from a Walmart or a Target or a Best Buy. The major retail stores with music sections only offer so much. If you want to look for real music and are not afraid to leave home and pay your own money for music, you actually have a better chance of finding real music you actually love than having to relegate yourself to what mainstreamers listen to. Sure, the goal of being popular among a mainstream set is good for attention. More people get to hear your music and enjoy it. However, what about those artists/groups from other genres that want a piece of the pie that the mainstream set trying to have more people listen to their music?

Are ALL Music Sections of Stores Bad?

Not all. For example, I've been to a Fry's Electronics store in League City, Texas, USA that had a variety of different kinds of music. Fry's (for the uninitiated) is like a mega mall of electronics, appliances, computer software, and things like that. The Fry's I've been to had a great selection of music from a variety of genres apart from most of the mainstream music.

The Voices of the Non-Mainstream.

One reason why I love Myspace is because I hear of artists I may never hear of or have a chance to purchase music from. It's how I became fond of people like Amy Barbera, Anieszka, Arielle, Francesca Marie, and more. Major department stores don't care enough about certain artists/groups and their respective genres to where they'd actually stock their music racks with CDs of artists/groups.

My Problem With Major Department Stores with Music Sections.

Most of you know I'm big on electronic dance music. The options at Walmart (because that's the one I go to most), however, are extremely limited. It's tough to try to find GOOD music from the genre. Most of the selection of electronic dance music at Walmart is mostly remixes of popular songs. There are also a bunch of so-so electronica songs. Any of you watch TV and hear about those dance CD collections in commercials? The songs are all mostly crappy dance music songs mostly from the '90s. So in other words, this genre technically exists in Walmart, but is actually nonexistent at Walmart.

Why I Don't Want to Do Music Shopping Online.

I don't want to feel like I have to be at home if I want to purchase physical copies of CDs rather than purchasing downloadable media. At least if I have a music CD, I'm entitled to listen to that CD and burn as many songs as I like to fill my MP3 player with music. I can listen to a CD for years to come and still enjoy it. I don't feel I am as connected with music by being on a downloadable music site than I can with being at a music store. Especially in the case of independent music stores, at least they know that not all good music comes from mainstream artists in mainstream genres. Music stores actually know and appreciate music rather than always be about mainstream artists. It's my own preference, but I prefer proper music stores than music sections at most major department stores. That especially involves music from genres most mainstreamers don't like very much (meaning, any genre of music besides rock).

The moral of this story? It is a great shame there aren't as many music stores anymore. More people have fewer options of music to purchase at a music SECTION rather than going to a music store to find music from many different genres and artists/groups. The more music stores have closed down, the more I have been unable to connect and stay connected to the music I love. I have fewer options of places to go to find music I love. I understand music stores are a business and that times are changing, but that's still no excuse for so many music stores, both major and independent, to close down. I have so many memories of music places when they close down. It's terrible that a better majority of these places are no longer around to service paying music lovers like myself. I'm sorry- I'm not going to be relegated to online shopping even in these post-modern times. I'd rather purchase physical copies of music CDs at physical music stores than to do my shopping online or at a major department store. Stuff like iTunes is the new music store, but many of us still prefer knowing that we don't have to go online to find music we love. Many of us are still old school and don't want to shop for music only online. But as I've said all along, it is a terrible shame that more and more music stores are going out of business and going defunct.

The already separated link to all kinds of music go even more separated as many are forced to buy music from mainstream artists/groups to feed corporate dollars the money they need to stay afloat, while the non-mainstream artists/groups constantly struggle and stumble to get money for their music. It's almost as if certain genres are almost being forcibly phased out by mainstream media in favor of genres and artists that more people care about. It's the reason why electronica got phased out during the early 2000s. It's why the only electronica you'll find at major stores are mostly of songs that aren't that good, yet still part of a relevant genre.

If you love music from more than just mainstream artists, support and honor the music store! Not all great music comes from mainstream artists. Not all great music comes from mainstream genres. Music is an art form. It is an art form where there are many artists and groups can make masterpieces that are the musical equivalent of Mona Lisa even when there are many other mainstream artists that make their own musical masterpieces. Not everyone shops online, so honor each music store that still provides music of many genres besides the main ones most people mostly care more about than others. We may have moved ahead in time, but we need to keep music stores (both major and minor/independent) alive for as long as we can. We can't let pull the Life Support plug on physical music stores even in this era of downloading. We need to keep and maintain physical music stores for as long as possible to keep the connection to the world of music strong and secure. Otherwise, our music choices will be a hot mess of only mainstream music under various genres. Do you want that? Well, neither do a lot of paying people who love various kinds of music. So please, keep the physical music record store alive!

Thank you for reading! Please be sure to read, comment, and subscribe if you love my blog and my blog entries! Here is a YouTube video I did on this topic. It offers my opinions in video form. Check it out below:

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