Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Another one bites the dust: Comet Records goes out of business

Comet Records has become the latest Irish record store to close its doors. Comet was a presence on Irish streets for 27 years with stores in Dublin (the most recent outlet was on Cope Street) and Cork. Yes, I know …

Mon, Mar 28, 2011, 08:23

   

Comet Records has become the latest Irish record store to close its doors. Comet was a presence on Irish streets for 27 years with stores in Dublin (the most recent outlet was on Cope Street) and Cork.

Yes, I know this feels like deja-vu because we have written this story a number of times in the past while. Irish record stores have had a tough time in the last few years with familiar names like Road Records, City Discs, BPM, Zhivago, Redlight and others going out of business. We’re now at a situation where there are a mere handful of retail outlets where you can purchase music in a physical format. Those shops have had to diversify into flogging other merchandise – or use the retail space for other purposes, such as the cafe in Dublin’s Tower Records – to keep the wolf from the door.

But Irish shops aren’t alone in this regard – record shops worldwide are taking a sizable hit as music fans change their buying habits. Shops which were once part and parcel of the music business furniture in cities worldwide are now just a footnote. Yes, there are still shops open for business – Picadilly in Manchester, Waterloo in Austin and Other Music in New York City, to name three I’ve been in recently – but even they will admit that the business is not what it used to be. Yes, there have been some innovations (including pop-up shops and Jack White’s mobile record store), but the genie is out of the bottle and we’re not going to see a return to the good old days.

Speaking to this paper on foot of the shop’s closure, Comet founder Brian O’Kelly pinned the blame on “a whole generation who have never paid anything for music and I don’t know if they will ever be prepared to pay anything for music.”

Comet is unlikely to be the last victim of this change, but the question now is what does this mean for the greater music community. No doubt it will survive without the shops which were once an essential part of the ecosystem, but what, if anything, will replace those shops?

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