Driving through my hometown I noticed that one of the traditional record shops that had been the mainstay of my record-buying life in my angst-ridden late teens and early twenties had closed down and was now one of these modern-day pawnshops (like Cash Converters, these eBay shops or whatever). As an aside, when you have more than two of these kind of shops in a small town, you know the economy is going downhill.
The model of the record store has been in danger for a while, but not from online juggernauts like the iTunes music store or Real’s Rhapsody service. The real danger has been from online CD fulfillment stores like PLAY or Amazon. These stores give me what I want, with the album art, to my door, mostly free of stupid copy protection and Sony rootkits. I rip a CD in a couple of minutes and enjoy. There is no step 2.
This record store, the last record store in the CITY, closed down in part because they clung to the old way of doing things. Their prices were usually Â£2 more than buying from Amazon, even with shipping taken into account. That with the surly, spotty self-righteous music bigoted staff and the limited stock that a high street store could offer, meant they were doomed the day the Internet was invented. Why didn’t they pursue the iPod and other music players? They have a high street location so they were ripe for getting the footfall needed to be a specialist music store – they could have been offering rip and load services for iPod users, they could have been a place to come and try out the BOSE Sounddock and compare it to the Apple iPod HiFi. There was so much opportunity considering their location and their brand. All wasted.
I think the same will begin to happen to the video store if they’re not careful. With the advent of films on demand over broadband, downloading films from iTMS and the ease of use and pricing of DVDs out of Tesco (3 quid for Watership Down, 3 quid for 28 Days Later) then it’s hard to see where they are going to make their next buck. As if in anticipation of my condemnation of their business model, the local video rental place about half a mile from my Mums has closed down.
My reckoning is that they’ll have to change or die.