The death of the record store

Was reading the morning paper, and it said that one of the last real record stores in town was going out of business.
Record stores everywhere are dying, you couldn’t even keep them alive with an iron lung.
I guess it’s a sign of the times.

Why pay for an overpriced CD because the store needs to pay their rent – when you can buy the same CD online for a fraction of the price? Or, which is more often the case, simply download what you want from iTunes or similar sites?
I haven’t bought a CD in a record store since I don’t know when. Last year I think, because I got a gift card for my birthday. 
Record stores will remain a nice memory when I feel like getting sentimental.
There was something romantic about going to a record store to pick out That Very Special Record. Especially back in the day when there were vinyls.

I wouldn’t sell or get rid of my vinyl collection for anything. It’s like each one of those records has a story.
Mp3’s are convenient, but I feel a little sorry for this generation for not getting that kick from FINDING something special, owning it as a collector’s item. I loved that.
Music now is just consumption. You get what you want to listen to- period. There’s no challenge, everything is available.

I knew every record store in town when I was a kid. I even still remember what they looked like and the atmosphere in there.

Those that were specialized in a certain genre, would have guys who were like walking reference books. This was way before Google, and it was hard to find information elsewhere.

I remember once hearing a song in an old Gene Kelly-movie and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I didn’t know if it had even ever been released on a record, so I went to this record store that specialized in jazz, classical and film-music and explained what I was looking for. A few lines was all I had to sing to the guy, and he knew immediately what I was talking about.

There was another guy here in town, Casey, who worked at Record Heaven – which became my second home for many years. It was the hard rock/heavy metal record store in town. That’s where I bought my first Judas Priest record ever back in the early 80’s.
Record Heaven had black walls with cool picture vinyls on the walls and stuff. Very metal.

Casey knew everything. I could namedrop some obscure band that nobody had ever heard of, and you could bet your ass he knew who they were and everything they had, or hadn’t released! That’s why you went to those stores. For the info, for the knowledge. They could recommend stuff, based on your taste.
TODAY you Google a band and get the info you need, and then you get recommendations by Amazon or by other people who are into the same music as you.

Back in the day, you had to go to a record store, pick out an LP and go to the counter where you would need to put on huge headphones and listen to a record before you bought it.
NOW you just listen to it online, anywhere. MySpace, clips on Amazon, Spotify…

I collected Judas Priest and Skid Row records. I had to buy magazines like “Record Collector” and check the ads in metal mags and just basically subscribe to actual record catalogs all over the place. Record Heaven had an English guy who would travel all over the globe to buy albums, so I would give him a list of what I was looking for, and he always found it for me. I spent a FORTUNE in there.

Now, I can buy anything on eBay.

I love how easy it is building a music collection with mp3’s or streaming radio nowadays. I love how easy it is to share music (illegal, yes, but so was copying on cassettes and if it hadn’t been for that “illegal activity” I wouldn’t have discovered a bunch of bands, whose records I bought later on).

But I miss the challenge of finding and the feeling of having a REAL RECORD in my hands. I used to sit there and read the lyrics when there were LP’s. The lyrics were way too small on CD’s so I didn’t bother. I guess today I can Google and find any lyric in seconds if I want.

It’s a little sad that record stores are going out of business, but at the same time, who really goes there anymore? Some things are best just remembered


  1. Clint

    Like any passing technology, there will be a couple of specialist shops around that cater to the newer collector mentality, which bands themselves add to with new vinyl pressings, and the ‘antique’ items. The days of shops selling just music are done though. One of the biggest cd shops here have been expanding to tv’s, stereo’s, mp3 players, computer games, film dvd’s etc ec for a while now, and continue to thrive while stocking a healthy, and very affordable, range of hard rock/metal cd’s and dvd’s. They are the smart exception, and need supermarket sized shops to sell all the other crap that makes them money. I grew up in a town without a record store, but there was an electronics shop thathad a ‘platterlog’ that I’d spend hours scouring for records they would order in at a tiny fee. Between 2 and 4 months later it would feel much more exciting than xmas ever did when that much wanted album FINALLY arrived! :)I believe Record Heaven, your local shop, was where I ordered my first ‘online’ albums from when I got my own Internet connection and credit card around 1997. From Malmo to Melbourne within a couple of weeks, from the comfort of my loungeroom, that was some whacky shit! :P

  2. Daniela

    Clint: You’re absolutely right. They did something similar here. One of the two surviving record stores in town had to turn half of the place into a coffeeshop. The other record store is, as you say, specialized and for collectors mostly. Their customers are mainly the older generation that aren’t affected by trends, as they mostly sell 50’s and 60’s vinyls. You had to wait 2-4 momths for a record? Wow, those were the days!! :-))Anton: I take it that ther are no record stores on Iceland? Well, no different from over here then, I guess. :) Did you ever have any record stores specialized in hard rock/heavy metal…?

  3. Ronnie Soo

    The record shop chains have been falling like ninepins in this country too. HMV are the last ones standing and they’re in big trouble themselves now. Virgin went down the pan a few years back, to be reincarnated as Zavvi, only to fail again when their supplier (Woolworths!) collapsed. We’ve lost Music Zone, Our Price, even Tower Records in London went a while back. That leaves us with the likes of Tesco selling the top 40 albums, and you won’t find a dedicated, knowledgeable music fan on the checkouts there!Regarding smaller stores, Probe is still around in Liverpool, there are still a few used record shops around too in most cities. Liverpool has ‘Hairy records’ which is a real Aladdin’s cave for vinyl, and there’s Cob Records in North Wales which ships worldwide. Other than that, I’m afraid a lot of independent stores now specialise in dance (eek!) The record fairs of the 1980s/1990s that I used to go to regularly have stopped too, I found so many rarities there.I know what you mean about being able to just call up anything online now, but I love that – at least we peasants get to hear some of those rarities we’ve only ever read about up to now. There are a load of early Dio tracks on YouTube for example, and recently I found somebody had posted the single by ‘Nuthin Fancy’ – it was the first band for Danny and Luke from Thunder. I’ll never own these things because they’re as rare as rocking horse droppings but it’s brilliant being able to hear them at last. Don’t even get me started on ‘sharing’!(they were just as sniffy about people taping albums in the 80s, but we ALL did it!)

  4. Daniela

    Ronnie: Tower Records is no more?? :( I remember one somewhere on Picadilly Circus in London, went to some record signings there back in the “good old days”…I miss the record fairs too, although I spent WAY too much money on stuff that was probably overpriced to begin with, but I wanted it at the time. :)You’re right, its good that we’re able to find rarities, but it also makes the rarities that I once paid a fortune for – a lot LESS interesting which is a pain in the ass. :/The sharing – exactly! If I couldn’t hear a song or a band first, I wouldn’t buy their stuff anyway, so I really don’t see what the problem is (explain Lars fuckin’ Napster-Killer Ulrich!

  5. Ronnie Soo

    Yeah, the company behind Tower went to the wall a few years back now. I did the same thing at record fairs, but when it got to the stage where I could immediately tell a 1975 Oyster original of ‘Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow’ from a 1978 Polydor reissue just by looking at the back cover, that was crossing the line into anorak territory ;-)(The lyric to ‘Sixteenth Century Greensleeves’ printed on the back cover has a white border round it on the reissue, but not on the original!)I spent loads on original issue LPs because this was at around the time of the mid-price reissues (remember ‘Fame’ label? Yuk!) with no gatefold sleeves. It was thanks to Napster I first heard the two Kerry Livgren tracks featuring Dio (years after they were made), the solo album he made was kinda hard to find and a mate of mine spent months tracking it down. When Lars spoke out against Napster, he might have been – legally – in the right but he and Metallica were no longer perceived as the ‘credible’ Metal band, but transformed into the very bloated dinosaurs they always wanted to avoid becoming. ‘Kill ’em All’ was not that easy to find in 1983, how did it get so popular? Yep, taped copies! Also, Lars (son of a rich dad remember) used to buy loads of NWOBHM records imported from Shades in London (a specialist Metal store of the sort we are lamenting the death of!) – what’s the betting he used to tape that stuff for his friends? Anyway, I said I wouldn’t get into all that… oops! :D

  6. Anton

    Yeah we have one that keeps getting smaller with the crysis and no it does not specialize in rock/metal. The best stores here are the fly market and collector stores!

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