One of the most interesting parts of watching the recording industry self-destruct over the last few years is that so much of the blame is placed on the record labels, and so little on the retail side. Two years ago, VC Kevin Laws pointed out that it was really the retail record stores that were pulling the strings -- and when they finally went out of business or had less power, the labels would become much bigger fans of digital music. Since then, we've definitely seen record stores struggle. Tower Records declared bankruptcy last year about a year after Wherehouse Music did the same. Some smaller, independent music stores recognized the need to change, and have tried to adapt to the times -- including one that turned the store more into a dance club that also sold music. Two new stories today suggest that more record stores, including one of the big ones, are trying to adapt as well. On the independent side, well-known Bay Area chain, Amoeba Records, is going to create an online music store, offering downloads, as well as starting its own record label. The focus, as always with Amoeba, is on serious music lovers, often looking for rare recordings or less well known acts. Meanwhile, Sam Goody, the huge chain of record shops is completely recreating their stores to make the more of a destination point. They're offering all kinds of games, the ability to download ringtones, burn your own CDs and just hang out and have fun. But how are they planning to make money if they're not actually selling CDs? In grand internet-age fashion, they're planning to make up the difference with advertising. Big, big ads, all over the store. It's tough not to be pretty skeptical of how well that will go over, but at least they're recognizing that simply selling CDs wasn't cutting it any more.
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