Just because I own a record store in 2011 doesn’t mean I walk the dog while listening to a Sony Walkman. I’m far from a technological luddite.
In fact, with my recent acquisition of my new iPhone, you could say I am officially Apple’s cyberslave. I started with the initial 40 gig iPod, which was eventually replaced by my current 160 gig iPod classic (which I actually use to walk the dog). Then last year, I finally switched from PC to Mac (which allowed me to customize my rambling videos). Now the iPhone. As Kevin Bacon would say, “Thank you sir, may I have another!”
It goes beyond Apple. I’ve got a Sony 3D Blu-ray player that streams youtube, Pandora, Slacker (which I like better), and about eight zillion movies. The digital cable has umpteen music channels.
It’s awesome. Entertainment everywhere. It makes a guy wonder about the need for record stores, that’s for sure.
So why do I own one?
Obviously, it’s a question I’ve asked myself (and fielded from many of you) countless times over the past thirteen years, and continue to ask myself to this day. I know that I can listen to music from morning until night, and hear tons of great shit, without paying a cent outside of my phone and cable bills, which I already have to pay. So why not just go with the electronic flow?
The answer: I still personally like to own and have control of my music. Collecting CDs (and to a smaller extent, LPs) is my ultimate hobby.
Our old partner, Lloyd, sent me a Spotify invite last month. So I logged on and created an account. I dialed up Paul Pena’s “New Train” as my first search, to see what sort of depth they had (it was the very first album we ever played at this store). While they didn’t have “New Train”, they did have an album I’ve never seen, his self-titled album. New Pena tracks? Cool.
I started to listen to the album, and of course, it was tasty. But rather than rejoice at my new digital find, I immediately dialed up my distributor to see if it was available (it wasn’t… and I couldn’t even find evidence of it’s existence on Amazon or Ebay).
Because I want to OWN it. I want it to be mine. I want to know it’s in my collection, and that it isn’t going to disappear at the whim of some company or at the surge of some electrical current. I want to be able to make a ringtone out of it, or use it in a video. I want total control.
Yes, I want to have it on my computer, in my phone, and on my iPod… but unless I’ve got that original digital file (otherwise known as the CD) back there on the wall, in my collection, I don’t really feel like I really own it. Plus, I want to be able to listen to it in high quality at my house, at the store, and in my car.
You see, I’m not a “casual” music fan, like for instance, my lovely wife. Music has always been enormously important to me, and I take my collection very seriously. I generally listen to albums (in fact, I never just drag a song into one of my devices). I don’t (and have never) buy singles (unless it’s a rare song and that’s the only way to get it). I rarely rip a CD and then trade it. If I do, I feel like I made a decision to relegate whatever the album is to a lower status… an almost not-worthy status.
I’m not saying that I’m personally down on casual fans. My wife loves her music very much. Nothing is more important than the amazing spiritual vibe music provides almost all of us, so to each their own. I’m just saying that’s not my way.
So while I’ve got the files to John Hammond’s “Southern Fried”, and I can listen to Lee Michael’s self-titled album on Spotify, but until I get the CD or LP, those two albums are not really mine.
In a nutshell, I’m a guy that needs a record store.
Luckily, I still own one.