[A comment I posted on The Second Disc music blog, in answer to a request for people to share their record store stories]
Boulder Colorado just lost its only good CD store. I’d been fortunate that the store was within walking distance of my workplace. I could take a walk whenever I felt the need to get out of the office, and check out their new “used” arrivals.
One gets a sense of the town they live in by what CDs turn up used. I was pleased to discover that someone else out there in my town liked Ulrich Schnauss, for example. Not enough to keep his discs, apparently, but, still, enough to buy them in the first place. That sort of insight into the obscure tastes others shared is now gone with the closing of the store.
Another element of going to the store that I will miss is the imperative to buy a disc the moment you spot it, or else you lose your chance. Do not let it be said that humankind has lost its primal hunter/gatherer nature — that instinctual need to pounce still gives a thrill, and I’d often think of our cavemen predecessors when arriving home with my “kill”. I’d even show it off to the housemates by leaving the discs conspicuously on the dining table! That engagement with our primitive natures is largely missing from the online experience.
One aspect of the online experience that I embraced was the ability to learn about new artists online, and then search the store the next day for what I’d learned. In this way, even if the inventory of the store had not changed, I’d find new discs that I’d overlooked.
Freed from the shackles of corporate radio thanks to the internet, there was so much more music to discover. Using a combination of online research and “nonline” buying, I probably expanded my music collection more in the past three years than I have at any other time of my life.
The sign in the window says they closed on Valentine’s Day. I know the reasons for the closing, which involved a well known mega-bank calling in a business loan three years prematurely (as is their right, but which is exactly what the Federal government has been asking banks NOT to do), and I hate the bank for it. But I admit, I see record companies pressing fewer CDs, and I understand that lossless downloads are the near future. Indeed I already subscribe to one musician’s lossless release plan — Sam Phillips’ The Long Play. And I’ll do so for others I love.
But I imagine that on average I will be buying less music, now that I can only buy it online. Though I appreciate discount sites like ebay, half, gohastings, and Amazon’s resellers, I feel as if I have lost my “tribe”. I can still hunt, but no longer am I part of a pack. It will be quite a change. And with google’s recent elimination of most music blogs, it will be more difficult to discover new bands. It feels like after three years of buying more music than I ever had, a time of less buying is approaching.