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Music

For the Record

Posted by Jer / April 19, 2008

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Today, Saturday April 19th, is Record Store Day.* Hundreds of independently owned record stores across the U.S. and Canada are participating in the event, aimed at celebrating the unique place record stores occupy in local communities and in a broader national music culture.

Music stores, especially independent mom-and-pop type joints, have faced difficulties in the last decade. Although it's easy to blame the waning record store traffic on file-sharing, downloading and other new technologies, much of the blame lies with the entry of big chain stores like Best Buy, Wal Mart and Future Shop into the music market. Using their buying clout, these stores can afford to sell music at heavily discounted prices, making it hard for local music retailers to keep up. Along with department stores, massive multi-level music depots like HMV and Virgin have robbed the music buying process of its intimacy and uniqueness. Buying music at HMV is not much different than buying a towel at The Bay.

In an effort to get people to re-experience the joys of music shopping, record stores all over North America will be offering discounts and special "Record Day Only" releases by major artists. There's also an insane amount of artists scheduled to perform at in-store events. Montreal-based Phonopolis, for example, will feature Born Ruffians and the Luyas this afternoon. I'm sure other shops around town have equally impressive line-ups.

Record stores sell music, but to see this as their sole function is to miss the point. They are a meeting point for music lovers and music makers. They help listeners make sense of the onslaught of songs and sounds that come out every year. They're where hundreds of emerging artists' albums get their start and where countless could-have-beens albums find their resting place. They are sites of discovery for the uninitiated and havens of solace for obsessive collectors.

So yes, they sell music. But the point of Record Store Day is to remind you that these shops are the visible manifestation of local culture and community. Go out and support them.

*It's also passover and Game 6 of the Canadiens-Bruins series. Maybe someone creative out there can find a way to honour all three, like showing up at an independent record store in a habs jersey and asking for the latest Plants and Animals album in hebrew.

Discussion

7 Comments

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