Tuesday, April 19, 2011
By Mike Tierney
Motivated by a sense of obligation -- and, okay, by the offer of free beer and barbecue -- I swung by my neighborhood music emporium Saturday on National Record Store Day.
The owner, Warren, was too busy to spout his frequent rant about how the recording industry is strangling shops such as his. The line at the cash register was a half-dozen deep. Good for him. He needs the business, especially with artists increasingly bypassing the middleman and delivering their work directly to consumers.
My store is a customer-friendly place. I can pop on headphones and listen to cuts of fresh releases. (Lucinda Williams and Jason Isbell each has a serious kick-ass new song.) I can leaf through stacks of recordings without the skeleton sales staff asking every few minutes, "Can I help you find something?"
And I can hear Warren's screw-you vents at an industry that once employed him. You know how CDs are marketed with designated "release dates," usually on Tuesdays? Warren puts them in the bins as soon as they arrive at the store.
I suppose I should join the masses and start downloading my music. It is more convenient , efficient and economical. But there is something undefinably comforting about thumbing through a drawer of records. Grabbing one that you have anticipated for weeks. Or stumbling across an unexpected gem.
I do not spend as much as I should at the store, though being charged up to $16 for a CD seems a valid excuse. I just hope the occasional dents in my credit card help, in a small way, to keep this fine example of an American institution in business for a while longer.