Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

A new chapter for record stores?

Another week, another story about record stores closing down. This week, BPM Records announced that they are to shut their stores in Wexford and Waterford. No prizes for guessing why these outlets are going out of business: competition from internet …

Fri, Mar 11, 2011, 10:00

   

Another week, another story about record stores closing down. This week, BPM Records announced that they are to shut their stores in Wexford and Waterford.

No prizes for guessing why these outlets are going out of business: competition from internet outlets and especially multinational supermarkets is killing off the music business as we’ve known it for the last few decades. The way things are going, there will be only a handful of stores open by the time Record Store Day rolls around in April.

But while there may be a limited future for the traditional record store, this doesn’t mean some folks aren’t fighting back. Last September, New York hip-hop mecca Fat Beats shut its bricks and mortar store and concentrated on flogging tracks online. Once every few months, though, Fat Beats returns to the world of physical retailing via a pop-up shop at its Brooklyn warehouse.

It’s not the only music retailer in the pop-up business. Since yesterday, The Vinyl Factory has taken lodgings in London’s St Martin’s Lane Hotel where it will be selling records for the next three months. Those who drop by to the pop-up shop can buy limited edition vinyl releases by Massive Attack, Pet Shop Boys, Bryan Ferry, Duran Duran, David Lynch, Grace Jones, Hot Chip and others. And then, there’s the Third Man Rolling Record Store, Jack White’s big yellow truck which will double as a mobile record shop and debuts at SXSW in Austin, Texas next week.

Such retail innovations really are the only way to go. Sadly, there’s just not enough demand to warrant keeping a store which simply flogs music open, unless you have a generous, deep-pocked patron paying your bills.

There is still a demand for music but, as with so many sectors who’ve seen their business models upended by the internet, the shops can no longer rely on customers coming to them. If you want to stay in the game, you have to change how you play the game.

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