I got the “breaking news” email from Billboard yesterday that two more Virgin Records locations are slated to close, and I opened it with a little trepidation, because I didn’t want to see Denver listed.
Last Saturday, I got to stop in and browse a little bit, which hasn’t happened much recently, and it seemed like every catalog item was on sale. I didn’t buy much (Alison Moyet’s “Singles” for $5), but in a weird way, it was comforting to wander around the store, listen to Snow Patrol on the overhead, and check out all of the listening stations with music that most people will never care about. I have always coveted the time I’ve spent in record stores, even after I escaped the retail rat race, and to see that opportunity go away is not a pleasant thought to me. The whole “world of music at your fingertips digitally” is great when I know what I’m looking for, but for me, there will always be a longing for a more tangible music experience.
As I checked out, I couldn’t help myself, and I asked the woman “you all aren’t going anywhere any time soon, are you?” Her response was a bit awkward, as if I’d asked a question she hadn’t heard before. “We never find out about these things until it’s too late.”
Yeah…I know the feeling. The store was actually pretty busy, as it is located in a great area for tourists to shop, and I wonder if that’s the only reason the store has survived as long as it has.
I’ve said it once, and I will say it again. If you will miss this type of experience, please make sure that you support your musically-oriented brick-and-mortar record shops. Through an acquaintance, I’ve heard that one of the granddaddies of the Denver music scene will probably be going out of business soon as well, and it’s probably inevitable. The only way a music store will remain viable is if they become destinations for more than just CDs. They’ve tried…oh, trust me, they have. Video games, DVDs, t-shirts, electronics, incense, books…you walk into some music stores, and sometimes it’s hard to locate the music. However, with sales of CDs slipping double-digits every year, we’re going to see music sales go back to just being a department in a bigger store, and even that is slipping away as well.
Here’s a prediction you can count on: by the end of 2011, a well-known record company will announce that they are going to stop producing physical CDs. I don’t think you will see wholesale defections from the format for a few more years, but some labels that cater to demographics with high digital-sales figures would be more inclined to do this (someone like Tommy Boy or Astralwerks comes to mind). It’s a vision I would rather not see come true, but it’s time has come.