Sunday, December 31, 2006


The Demise of Music Stores

This is old news that hit home yesterday when we were shopping. We headed to the nearest metro-ish area, thirty miles from home, hoping to find some music cds. Before we left home, we mentally tried to come up with a list of stores where we could shop for music. We wanted someplace with a broad selection, including the quirkier stuff, like Rammstein. As we went through what used to be a short list of appropriate places, we realized that the list had gotten even shorter. Media Play went out of business last year; the Electric Fetus has gotten all gift-y, and their music selection, which used to be great, now stinks. The mall music store is gone. That leaves us with whatever they've got at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, and Barnes & Noble. B&N has a more avant guarde selection than the other three, but the price tags are all about two dollars higher per disk than the other places.

While I realize that the music biz has shifted to the digital age, and I don't mind buying some of my music online, I miss not being able to walk into a music store on a whim and look through the offerings. There's something immensely satisfying in seeing the array lovingly arranged by knowledgeable employees and in finding something unexpected. Now that Tower Records has fallen, I'm not sure we'll ever see a music store of the traditional kind again. What we need is a hybrid. A place we can go to browse, with that helpful music-smart staff, that helps us with our downloads. I'm still holding out hope that the literature that accompanies music will not die, but will transform in some way to match the digital age.

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