Friday, 13 January 2012

Are record stores really doomed?

 I've been thinking a lot recently about a recent comment made by The Maccabees (who are doing very well for themselves right now, with the dreamy Given to the Wild earning them their first UK number 1 album) in an exclusive interview they took part in for In the interview, guitarist Felix White and drummer Sam Doyle talk about the major decline high street retailer HMV experienced late last year, following "dissapointing" sales over the Christmas period, which saw an 8.1% decrease in sales across the 252 stores across the nation in comparison to the same period in 2010 and half-year losses of £36.4 million. In the interview, White spoke of the major chain store in a reflective manner, stating:
 "I've definitely bought a lot of albums from HMV and record shops in general. I think we're the last [generation] who would feel sentimentally towards that era but I would hugely miss record shops. That's still how I get music."
 And I do agree with what White has to say. The only generation of people who still have any care for record shops are people of the age range of The Maccabees and perhaps those at a younger age who have a greater passion for music and owning it... such as myself. I love nothing more than a timeless browse through shops like HMV and I've definately picked up some brilliant CDs in that shops and made effective use of the 2 CDs for £10 deal. It's where I've bought all my Metallica CDs, whre I bought the first three CDs that took me in the direction of listening to heavier music, Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals, Slipknot's self-titled debut and Avenged Sevenfold's City of Evil. Some of the best albums I own all come from there. However, as a fan of rock and metal music with an obession of buying full albums, there is no better place to spend time than browsing through a record shop, whilst everyone around me with their obsession with whatever single is lurking in the charts simply buys the one song from iTunes.
 I've goten used to this. Everyone around me has done it. Most iPod's I look through will simply contain one song from an album that I know and love all the way through. (The amount of times I've seen someone to have The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden and then turn out to only possess Run to the Hills is unbelievable. Seriously, they will never get a chance to experience Hallowed Be Thy Name? It is sad.) This trend is something I've come to accept over time and it's unlikely to change any time soon. Now, I'm not going to bastardize the iTunes store in any way. It's got to be the finest creation that Steve Jobs came up with during the Apple technoligical revolution in the early 2000's the one creation that never goes out of date or can be replaced by a newer model. It's been a place where I can find music by more obscure bands that HMV don't happen to stock anything by and it's also effective in showing me the way to other great albums that listeners of some of my favourite albums have also bought. However, there is a lesser sense of musical soul and passion in doing this than there is with browsing in a music shop.
 I spend as much of my free time as possible in Dundee. It is generally the city where I spend most of my time these days, because I go to school there and my hometown Blairgowrie has... nothing. My time spent there browsing in HMV with friends brings back some pretty cool and happy memories. However, there are just a lot of people who just aren't as passionate about music as me and my friends and Dundee is a city that shows this off effortlessly. The massive stretch of shops that is The Murraygate serves as a happy home to Game and Gamestation, two major video game distributors and for a while, it used to be the same for entertainment distributors with HMV being a sort walk away from Virgin Megastores one of the main shops in the shopping centre The Wellgate. It was around for a good number of years, but somehow, it couldn't last the pace with HMV around and was closed down. A few months later, it was set up as the equally succesful Zavvi which again sold lots of good music when set up for two years. It's where I bought my first Trivium and Deep Purple albums. But once again HMV managed to out-do and it shut again. Once again, after a month or so, the shop was re-branded as Head. It still has a good selection of CDs, but it was not the place to go to buy anything new or up-to-date. Unsurprisingly it went out of business after only a year, only to be replaced by a pound shop. The only CDs it stocked were an overflowing amount of Terrorvision albums, which admittedly I should have taken advantage of at the time. However, that shop closed down after about four months and now no shops reside there. The area is assumend by many to be cursed.
 It proved that the general public of Dundee had little time for variation in their musical browsing and were just looking to buy new material. It was shameful that it proved that little time for purchasing and owning a physical copy of a claasic rock album or any peice of musical history. But before I prove Dundee to be a nevereding chasm of lack-of-musical-appreciation and misery, I'm happy to say that one place proves all this wrong. I am of course talking about Groucho's.

 Groucho's in the one shop I can think of that gives me faith in saying that a passion for music within the public is very much prominent. It is an independent record store, the most rock n' roll of sores, that has managed to stay standing while The Wellgate's musical shop has seen it's downfall. Whenever I go into that shop there is always a sense of warmth as CDs fill up the dusty shelves and the skinny browsers talking about bands with each other. I've bought some of my favourite albums from Groucho's for extrodinary prices, often under £5. It's where I bought the icy, emo laced-hardcore magnificance taht is Funeral for a Friend's Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation. It's also where I bought Nirvana's In Utero, a relentlessly rough and intense grungey look into the twisted mind of Kurt Cobain prior to his tragic suicide and it's also where I bought one of my favourite albums of all time. Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf, an album that makes the very best mixture of heaviness and melody which sticks up it's middle finger to the conventional stylings of mainstram rock in 2002 and instead gives us rock n' roll in it's purest form was an album I managed to pick up for just £3.99. And that's a wonderful thing to consider. I got an album that represents rock n, roll in it's purest form from a store that represents rock n' roll in it's purest form.
 So, if HMV does end up closing it's doors as a result of widespread musical downloading, I know it will be a sad day for fans of all music throughout the nation. After all, the original company His Master's Voice from which the store originates is a company of historical significance, with the two companies together having exsisted for a total of over a hundred years. It would be like watching a piece of history go to waste. However, there must be something said for the fact that independent stores like Groucho's which have managed to stay around for an extremely long time. I think, as a passionate fan of rock music, I'll do all I can to choose stores like these to purchase my music as opposed to taking the easy way out and using iTunes. That's my idea for now and I suspect I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

No comments:

Post a Comment