Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

State goes online only – and Dublin’s Road Records shuts up shop

After just nine issues, State magazine has ceased publication of its print edition and will continue to exist as an online entity only. It was also announced this week that Dublin independent music store Road Records will cease trading after …

Fri, Jan 16, 2009, 10:26

   

After just nine issues, State magazine has ceased publication of its print edition and will continue to exist as an online entity only.

It was also announced this week that Dublin independent music store Road Records will cease trading after 11 years.

State was launched last March and was available initially as a paid-for title before becoming a free publication after six issues in October. But its plans to rely solely on advertising revenue were scuppered by the economic downturn.

Co-editor John Walshe admits their timing was not great. “No one could have predicted the downturn a year ago. Advertising budgets across the board have been slashed and everyone in the media industry is finding that.

“We just weren’t getting enough advertising to cover the cost of printing of the magazine or paying our journalists. Unfortunately, the free route did not work for us, but it did get the magazine into more hands.”

One reason why State never gained traction with readers may be because it didn’t carve out a distinctive enough niche for itself. There was already saturation coverage elsewhere of many of the acts featured on its covers, including REM, Interpol, Muse and Kings of Leon, and State’s interviews provided few new insights. In addition, mixed signals were sent by the decision to put Abba on the cover.

Walshe naturally disagrees with this. “We printed nine issues and we’re really proud and happy with the content and what we covered. Yes, of course, there are things we would have changed, but there always is. We just never thought it would be a case of just nine issues.”

State will continue online and Walshe promises a much busier site.

“There will be a lot more daily content and we will still put up a version of the magazine every month. However, no one is going to be working full-time on it because we will all be working elsewhere, but we will be chipping in when we can.”

Meanwhile, Dave Kennedy and Julie Collins from Road Records posted this explanation as to why the long-running Dublin store will be closing its doors in the coming weeks (statement in full below)

First of all, thank you all for your kind words about our store and us personally, we really do appreciate it as Road has always been about a personal approach from day one.

I am very sad to say that we will in fact be closing down the store in the next 2 – 3 weeks as things have just become too difficult for us to proceed, we basically have no money left and as it is just a small shop run by Julie and myself we can longer afford to fund it. Belive me if we were at least breaking even each week then we would continue on in hope but as we are continually losing money, and have been for at least six months, we cannot carry on as any losses incurred will have to be personally paid for by us. We have put enough of our own money into the store in the last year just to keep it afloat but I am sad to say we really don’t have anything left at this stage, if we continue to trade we will just continue to lose money that we honestly do not have any more and thus we will end up paying off bank loans for the rest of our lives. I know a lot of people think if you have your own store that you have money behind you but believe me that is just a myth.

Its been an absolutely amazing eleven years for us and neither of us regret one single second of it, when we close I will not be looking back on wasted time in any way.

We have made some amazing friends through the shop and have had the pleasure of dealing with some truly fantastic bands [and their members].

Without blowing my own trumpet I do think Dublin will be a worse place without us as I think from day one we were always the most approachable store for Irish bands and their independent releases, it was one of the main reasons for setting up the store [some of you may remember the fact that I spent most of my youth plugging away in bands with nowhere to sell our music] and we have always tried to be as supportive to local music as possible, mainly because people in this country make music as good as if not better than anywhere else but have never had a proper outlet to sell it. We have always had a policy to make sure to play Irish music in the store so people in here can hear it and understand the quality and diversity of music being made in Ireland. If we heard something that excited us then we would always go out of our way to promote it as much as possible both in the store and on the site.

The reasons for the downturn are many and varied and if there was just one then we could try overcome that in some way but its no longer possible to pinpoint just one.

I will try list some of the reasons I see for the death of the small shop and I really do hope I am not right in thinking that many more will go the same way, I have always been optimistic that this city can sustain a couple of smaller indie shops but I no longer believe that to be true, again, I really hope I am wrong with this opinion but the way people go about buying their music these days does not instill me with too much confidence.

1. Regardless of what I have thought over the years downloading has effected our business, probably more so the illegal side of things, filesharhing and the likes. I speak as a shop on this one but god knows how much small bands suffer because of this aswell.

2. Below cost sellers online, everybody wants a bargain and its hard to take the moral highground on this one, but everytime a purchase is made to the likes of Play etc is a nail in the coffin to the indie store, these online sellers don’t care one hoot about indie bands and music, they just need to sell in bulk and as quickly as possible. They will never put any money or effort back into indigenous music, try asking them to sell 50 copies of a beautiful hand made cdr release.

3. The city centre just does not have the same volume of people walking around it anymore, its a simple fact, less people means less sales. We have noticed a massive downturn in the amount of people visiting the store in the last year.

4. Kids don’t buy music anymore. That sounds like a fairly broad statement to make, I know there are still some out there but we don’t see any young people in the shop anymore so as we lose older customers we don’t gain any new ones.

5. Obviously this country is going through a recession at the moment so it would be stupid of me to claim that this wasn’t having an effect on our business but having said that things were already beginning to change long before that.

6. The deal with selling independent local releases always had to be a two way exchange for us, we never made much money from local releases [and that was never the idea] but we always sought the support of bands. By that I mean if we were selling your music then we would always appreciate the bands making a purchase in the store in return, sadly that did not always happen, and before you jump at me for making this statement I do accept that plenty of you out there were very supportive of us but take if from me we did have quite a lot of bands coming in to us with their own release to sell whilst also carrying a hmv bag with a purchase they had just made, simply because it was cheaper there.

7. The cost of running a store in this city has increased dramatically in the past 4 / 5 years, rents have gone up so much, insurance increased, bank costs and so many other things that over the years it has become increasingly more difficult just to meet our costs on a week to week basis.

8. Whilst this one may not seem so obvious the cost of an average cd or record in the store is now less than it was 5 / 6 years ago and that is a good thing to the consumer but it has also seriously dented our chances of making a living in any way, it just means we have to sell more to cover our costs but as I mentioned with less customers coming through the door that has not been possible.

As you may gather from this piece we are both very very sad about the prospects of closing down our shop, this is our only way of making a living and now we are both back to square one with pretty much no money [and a brand new baby to support], I don’t know what either of us are going to do from now on but I’m sure we will survive.

I say this from my heart that I really hope the last few remaining indie stores will survive in the city and I hope you can take time out to visit them and make a purchase, otherwise these stores will not make it through these times either, and don’t leave it for a couple of weeks, do it today as they really do need your support and its only when they are all gone that you will then miss them.

Again, thank you all for your kind words and to anybody out there that has supported us in any way thank you also, we have had so much pleasure over the last eleven years doing what we do.

Dave and Julie

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