Are record shops a thing of the past?

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Image: banquetrecords.com

Now, of course I’m not going to force my own opinion down your throat. But this is a topic that is constantly in the back of musicians and listeners’ minds. Are record shops still valid in the music industry? Or is everyone sticking to the digital age and downloading music instead?

As I sit here with my CD rack full of physical discs to my right, I wonder if anyone else out there still buys these things? A lot of my own CD’s I bought when I had a local Woolworths that sold singles as well as albums (how old do I sound right now?). But that’s what we used to do! If I liked a band or artist I would buy their CD with my pocket money and force my mum to put it in the car for us to listen to, or I’d use my own ancient Walkman.

Nowadays, we only really have HMV on the high street to buy our beloved music as a physical product. But artists aren’t stupid; they know not everyone who listens to music is going to buy a CD, so most now release digital versions for their fans, although these luckily do still go towards music charts, so you can still feel like you’re helping your favourite band out if you download- legally, of course. But there are those who download from YouTube or torrent sites because, let’s face it, pretty much every song has some kind of version on YouTube making it so easy to just whack the MP3 onto your iPod or phone. I completely understand that not everyone wants to pay to listen to music they like, but if you really do like the artist, isn’t paying for it helping them to make more music, tour and produce merch for you?

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And then we get onto the retro explosion of vinyl, first produced in the late 1950s and 1960s as the the norm for older generations to listen to music. Today, they’ve come back and become a real hipster trend. Is it now considered ‘cool’ and ‘retro’ to own vinyl? Almost definitely. I know a few people who own vinyl, yet don’t even own a vinyl player. Isn’t that taking it too far?

We don’t have many record shops now, and I believe they are vital for the music industry. The few that remain don’t just rely on CD sales to keep the doors open; they often hold signings and intimate gigs for artists and fans, which I think is a great way to keep record shops alive and give them another string to their bow, not to mention keeping up the interaction between artists and their fans.

So whether you purchase physical CDs, or follow the trend of vinyl, or are downloading from the internet, as long as we’re all enjoying the music that’s the main thing, right? Just make sure you- yes, you!- are supporting the music you like in some way or another, because its the only way to keep that music alive.

CD Sales Rebound In First Quarter Of 2004

Image: Consequence Of Sound

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