Indie Music Stores: Resurgence Kenny Love,
MusicDish Network Sponsor
With so many major music retail chains closing up
shop, primarily as a result of the ever increasing ease of online
purchasing, I believe we will also soon witness a case of history
In my opinion, history will repeat itself at the retail
level in the form of new independent "Mom & Pop" music stores, albeit
with one important difference...their operations will run much smarter.
Smarter in terms of the type of product stock to carry and based
on its quality, popularity and demand. But, isn't this how stores
have always run, prior to the age of digital enlightenment? Well,
yes, and no...
Yes, because this is how it all began, well intentioned,
no less. However, as nature often subscribes, it quickly got out
of hand in accordance with its growth, bigger money being infused
into it, along with politics that go along with big money that serves
to keep "lesser players" out of its game.
For instance, at one point records would "ship gold"
or "ship platinum" to retailers solely based on an arbitrary number
that labels would cite to retailers, so that they could be guaranteed
to sell due to how well the labels' big publicity machines had done
their jobs in advance of release dates through their pre-release
campaigns. These arbitrary figures would, unfairly, qualify artists
for rewards that they would later prove to not have earned.
These groundless and absurd figures were often based
on the popularity of the artist. Simultaneously and unfortunately,
music was also beginning to experience a significant loss of artistic
quality and creativity. This was in part due to talent now being
"made" in the studio through the wizardry of technology, but which
lacked the ability to reproduce itself through live performances
or because non thinking labels decided it best to streamline their
tour expenses by sacrificing crucial live aspects, i.e., background
singers and major instrument parts.
However, fans were not stupid. They felt a double
impact through a lack of the complete music that they had become
accustomed to hearing on their high-priced recordings, as well as
the price-gouging tickets they were forced to pay in order to see
their unfulfilling and unsatisfying musical heroes. Never was this
more evident than in "returns" from stores to distributors and subsequently,
Another major reason for returns was that labels had
begun a sort of "economizing" in the sense of cheating the consumer.
An example would be the trend of placing one or two great songs
on a recording, while the remainder of the repertoire would be musically
Naturally, these differences were noted. Word spread
that although certain acts sounded great in recordings or their
one or two lead singles sounded wonderful, for the most part they
were a bust and were not worth the big dollars they were demanding
from live performances, nor were they worth the purchase of an entire
Thus, began the "radio taping," whereby people would
simply record their favorite tunes from their radio stations, saving
themselves the trouble of dealing with wasting their money on inferior
product. This was the precursor to illegal digital downloads that
we have recently seen, and the reason the RIAA did not intervene
at this time was because it simply had no way of detecting, tracking
and proving it.
All in all, stores felt the brunt of all this politicking
and greed through a dramatic slowdown of record sales. And while
the industry did enjoy a brief stint of success afterward, "the
people" were beginning to speak a message that they were not stupid,
and were seriously becoming both disenfranchised and disenchanted
with the way things were going and headed. For the most part, this
would be an ongoing downward spiraling trend that continues to this
day. 3The people" have had the last laugh as major labels revert
into their shells from losing their artists to technology, while
shuddering for their mere survival in the only historical way that
they can ... by consolidating.
In short, for success in this century, independent
music stores, as all other aspects of the music industry, will need
to ensure that their "checks and balances" systems are far more
reliable and solid than in the past.
One major way to do so is a very simple one. Regardless
of your function in this industry, think "quality" as opposed to
"quantity." Quality product will always last, while quantity will,
inevitably, always return to serve as a nightmare.
by the MusicDish
Network. Copyright © Tag
It 2004 - Republished with Permission