Going into a record shop these days is perhaps one of the most terrifying experiences any music fan may have. Of course you’re going to be thoroughly excited about the idea that you will likely be heading home with something new to seduce your stereo with, but where to begin once you walk in past the security scanners is ultimately where you begin to discover your inner deer in the headlights.
Right upfront you’re sure to encounter the hot new release and/or bestseller racks, with the top sales chart somewhere in the general vicinity. Beyond all that though, things can get very, very scary in a matter of nanoseconds. I’m not sure if you have noticed this or not, but with the MP3 generation in the midst of laying a harsh genocide upon the music industry and their stores, CD’s are certainly more readily available at such a low price, that even a homeless character on a good day could make a purchase.
For instance, I happened to find myself in a commercial record store that features three consonants in its unpronounceable name, and everywhere I turned I would come across one discount rack or another. After almost peeing myself in excitement and temporarily forgetting my name for a few moments, I ultimately showed resistance and only picked up 3 albums – The Queen is Dead by The Smiths, Loco Live by Ramones, and a random mini James Brown hits collection, for roughly $21 combined after tax! Believe me, considering that these discs ranged from $5.99 to $6.99, and that Neil Young and Led Zeppelin albums were available for just $9.99, I really, really had to control myself.
What’s interesting here is that a sizeable amount of albums that are on these discount racks are already known for their quality, and are obviously just being unloaded by the store to make room for the next Lindsay Lohan release or some crap that’s not too far off. That got me thinking – why (unless it’s The Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible) would you even bother going over to the charts to spend some dough on some discs that for the most part are relatively unproven? You see, with MP3’s readily available to buy online, free music downloading sites continually popping up, and Myspace.com hosting select tracks from every artist under the sun, albums are becoming less and less appealing to buy at $14.99 to $17.99. After all, when you realize how many filler songs actually appear on these regular priced discs, you may want to mosey over to the discount section for a sure thing.
Yes, great music has an element of risk to it, but with how disposable it is becoming in the marketplace, risks now have to be perfectly calculated in order for newer artists to compete with those who are not only established, but also have their music available for so cheap. As for why record stores scare me – let’s just say that the realization that they may become extinct as a result of the MP3 culture is something that gives me sweats – why? Because without record stores, picking up music will ultimately lose its personality – music should be about the experience, not the mouse click.