Record Store Day highlights the struggling nature of the business
However, this day also highlights how most music shops are suffering from the amount of illegal downloading and Internet shopping that takes place now, as most people don't need to go to their local music shop to get their fix nowadays.
The best record stores have always been cultural tradingposts, not just dealing in widgets of sound but in theromance of music -- the way it can look and feel, the thingsabout it that people need to share. Endangered now, and somore romantic than ever, record stores and their devoteesare rallying against the notion they are bound to follow thedinosaur.
Today is National Record Store Day. Shops across thecountry are hosting performances, holding contests, havingsales, giving away samplers and other freebies. Inspired bythe success of a national awareness day for anotherpop-culture throwback -- comic books -- Record Store Day wasorganized by the various leagues of independent musicretailers.
Internet shopping and illegal downloading have decimatedthe brick-and-mortar record business. About 3,100 shops haveclosed since 2003, according to the Almighty Institute ofMusic Retail (a marketing data-base firm), with 1,400 ofthose being independent stores. But 2,450 indies remainopen. For hardcore buffs, these outlets remain vital as muchfor their atmospheric pleasures as for the product.
Boosters of Record Store Day include big names, with evenMetallica playing an in-store show in California. Theorganizers have posted quotes on recordstoreday.com fromfamous record-buyers, including Bruce Springsteen,music-obsessed filmmaker Cameron Crowe and author NickHornby, whose 1995 novel "High Fidelity" (and thesubsequent movie) both tweaks and celebrates the popfetishists of an indie music shop.
"Yes, it's easier to download music andprobably cheaper," Hornby says. "But what'splaying on your favorite download store when you walk intoit? Nothing. Who are you going to meet in there? Nobody.Record stores can't save your life. But they can giveyou a better one."
In New Jersey, participating stores include Vintage Vinylin Fords, Scotti's Record Shops in Summit andMorristown, Jack's Music Shoppe in Red Bank,Grooveground in Collingswood, Record Collector in Bordentownand the Princeton Record Exchange. As Hornby suggests, theseshops have helped form people's lives.