Reinventing The Record Store

from the it's-about-time dept

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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Comments on “Reinventing The Record Store”

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Factory says:

No Subject Given

Hmm.. IMHO online music stores are a dead end. As soon as microcredit is worked out. I fail to see what value the big online music stores offer over getting the music via a group’s web site. Billing and distribution can just as easily be done via a service which only does billing and ordering (like Digital River). Perhaps this is where Google is aiming at?
And if we are talking about pushing music to customers IMHO music reviews/blogs/radio is a much better medium.

Clifford VanMeter (user link) says:

Bands Get it -- Companies Don't

A great example of a band that gets it is Steadman ( They’ve had record deals with major lables and have bailed on the big company approach. Now they have over 130 downloads, or as they call them “freeloads” on their website. Basically everything they’ve ever done.

According to their front-man, they never made money on CD releases anyway (which have to reach upwards of 250,000 before the band sees a dime). All the money they ever made was on TV and film licensing, merchandise and touring. New record company contracts with perfomers cut them out of the publishing rights, leaving most of them high-and-dry.

So it might not even be a matter of waiting for micropayments… once more bands start adopting this kind of approach and begin releasing Creative Commons music, the record companies will just be disappear in a puff of practicality.

Tyshaun says:

Re: Bands Get it -- Companies Don't

I don’t agree with this for one reason, the big music companies provide one facet that is extremely necessary to becoming a monetarily successful act, advertising money. In a eutopia we could imagine every band having a website and we could download music from them, but how would we even know the site is out there? As unfortunate as it is consumers like having stuff pointed out to them via advertising (to a certain extent). Until someone can show me a viable way, other than word of mouth, to generate traffic on a bands web site without mass marketing, I think the music companies are going to stay around.

melancolico catrin (user link) says:

Lone ranger versus the industry

I like being in control of my creations. The only money I’ve made in music has been doing shows. Physical media simply cannot compete with the internet. I reached more people than I could dream of by focusing my efforts online.
It may seem altruistic to give away material in this manner, but I just want to be heard. Also, it helps to have a real job to finance my minute expenses…

1. Make music
2. ???? — I am here
3. Profit

Jack (user link) says:

Re: Lone ranger versus the industry

I am with you there. We made, I think $24 this month on our site, but money isn’t the main reason. We may not sell a pile, but our band is part of the community and it’s more fun to make music and show it off than just watch TV every night after my real job. If a record company comes along and shows some interest, well, that’s great, but we aren’t going to go looking.

googly_eyes says:

Why do they all have to end up ultra rich?

Why is it that so many artists expect to end up ultra rich for their efforts?

I think entertainment will reach it’s equalibrium when artists realize that they are doing a job like anyone else, and that they shouldn’t expect to become wildy wealthy from thier music (art, whatever).

As long as there are artists who expect the lottery payoff, there will be someone for the (big-name, evil) record lables to exploit.

Christian (user link) says:

"Destination" music stores

I think that Sam Goody’s approach has a chance. In a future where so much is going virtual, there’s a lot to be said for just “being there”. If Sam Goody can sell people a place to hang out, they might be able to make money off of them. Like when you go to Borders books — I’m not sure how Borders is doing financially, but people do go there just to be there.

Sven Kamphuis (user link) says:

CB3ROB BBS opens online record label on www.huge.n

After we’ve tried to set up conventional online record stores, the first attempts going back as far as 1996, we’ve now taken a different approach where artists can just register -themselves- and upload their own material and we pay them out half (thats way more than they’d get selling cds!) of the revenue directly.

People are a bit pissed off at the RIAA and the likes for their undemocratic mafia-like approach to generating income.

Let’s face it, copyright laws and patents aren’t exactly what one would expect in a ‘democratic’ country, so why bother with those if artists can make more money without them.

We feel that by just paying the artists more than the old-economy record labels do we should be able to undermine their resources and get rid of the dinosaurs cracking down on p2p and other technical developments.

People don’t want cd’s, they don’t want to walk up to a box to insert a disk, that sounds like work..
they just want the music, and preferably legal.

rockprata says:

Record Stores

How are going to buy a digital record? You need record stores. That actually sell vinyl. For people like me. And about a million Record spinning Dj’s who don’t get promo’s and enjoy the real feel of vinyl. It’s a place where you can pick up just one record without having to pay 5 dollars in shipping. These new age record stores are gonna go out of business. That’s all that’s to it. Rockprata

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