Sunday, April 18, 2010

I didn't patronise a record shop yesterday

So yesterday was Record Store Day, or Record Shop Day as I would have called it if they'd put me in charge. And I did not go to a record shop. Oh well. I don't feel too bad because I do go to record shops when I can, and I do try not to leave without buying anything if the shop has put some effort into choosing its stock (Hint to small record shops with tiny classical selections: having ten Naxos albums and plenty of Andrea Bocelli doesn't count).
Aside from bargain boxes, any purchase I make in a record shop represents a several-euro loss for me compared with purchasing the equivalent album online. But I do it because good record shops make the universe a better place and I'd hate to seem them disappear (which isn't to say I necessarily believe "oh, browsing online just doesn't compare with poking through a record shop". Well, I do believe that, in the same way as I believe that drinking wine doesn't compare with eating steak: they're just inherently not the same). Unfortunately I don't think an industry can survive only on its customers' goodwill and guilt, and record shops will inevitably go the way of the blacksmith.
I'm reminded of when I started properly getting into classical music in the early 1990s. Twenty, fifteen years ago, Dublin had HMV Grafton Street, Virgin, and Tower, all with their own dedicated classical rooms - this was a consequence of the CD boom and Three Tenors mania. Those days will never return, but my point is that the classical section of the record shop has had further to fall. It was sad, going in to the Virgin Megastore every so often and watching the classical section get smaller and smaller, and HMV's room losing its dividing wall and then the section migrating elsewhere, getting smaller and smaller, and Tower's section is now doing the same, as more and more musical genres are being squeezed into the same space.
So, yes, I want to support the record shops. But they're making it harder. Still, Flogging A Dead Horse Day doesn't have the same ring to it.

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