Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Graying of the Record Store
New York Times ^ | Published: July 16, 2006 | By ALEX WILLIAMS

Posted on 07/18/2006 10:49:17 AM PDT by weegee

On a recent Monday, six people — soon enough four, then two — were browsing the bins of compact discs at Norman’s Sound and Vision, a music store on Cooper Square in Manhattan, around 6 p.m., a time that once constituted the daily rush hour.

A decade ago, the number of shoppers might have been 20 or 30, said Norman Isaacs, the owner. Six people? He would have had that many working in the store. “I used to make more in a day than I probably make in a week now,” said the shaven-headed Mr. Isaacs, 59, whose largely empty aisles brimming with punk, jazz, Latin music, and lots and lots of classic rock have left him, many afternoons, looking like a rock ’n’ roll version of the Maytag repairman.

Just as troubling to Mr. Isaacs is the age of his clientele. “It’s much grayer,” he said mournfully.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS: babyboomers; buggywhipseller; classicrock; dinosaurmedia; music; musicindustry; recordstores; rock; rockandroll; rockmusic; socalledmusic; vinylnerds
And in the 1960s, kids didn't buy Frank Sinatra records as much as they did in the 1940s.

The music industry was fragmented in the beginning, came together for awhile (when an artist like Elvis was able to top Pop, R&B, and C&W charts at the same time) and has fragmented again.

There are music stores that specialize in dance/techno music, rap, or heavy metal. If a store owner sticks to the Classic Rock he grew up with (he's 59) then his business is stagnent and he's not keeping up with any music trends.

Ironic to see the NY Times talking about greying dinosaurs.

1 posted on 07/18/2006 10:49:18 AM PDT by weegee
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: weegee
When I was last in NYC, about 18 months ago, I went on a spending spree at a small movie soundtrack store which I've since learned is closing/has closed.

These days I stop by the various used record stores in Boston and often I'm the only one there.

The ending of so many "underground gathering places" is sad.

2 posted on 07/18/2006 10:52:35 AM PDT by Darkwolf377 (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: weegee
Danny Fields, the Ramones’ first manager, points out that visiting Bleecker Bob’s on West Third Street in the late 70’s was “like experiencing the New York music scene” in miniature — it was a cultural locus, a trading post for all the latest punk trends. “Dropping into Bleecker Bob’s was like dropping into CBGB’s,” he said. (You can still drop into Bleecker Bob’s.)

Except that the punk records that niche music stores (presumably like this punk store) stocked were imports or small label, small distribution. I doubt that the punk stores stocked much Ted Nuggent, Helen Reddy, James Taylor, ELO, Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, or Barry Mannilow reocrds. Think they stocked the Grease or Saturday Night Fever soundtracks?

Only if they were a superstore chain, like Peaches.

3 posted on 07/18/2006 10:52:52 AM PDT by weegee (Merry Jo Kopechne Day!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Darkwolf377

There is a lot of chaffe at the Boston record stores to get at those few nuggets.

I know a local record store here that keeps low inventory and will pass on used copies of the "big sellers" of old. They bloat the racks and don't generate new interest so much. Doesn't matter if the seller is practically giving them away; they aren't even worth filing.

4 posted on 07/18/2006 10:55:54 AM PDT by weegee (Merry Jo Kopechne Day!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: weegee

Well, this grayhead hasn't bought a CD in ages. About 90% of my "record" collection comes through iTunes.

5 posted on 07/18/2006 10:58:47 AM PDT by Kenny Bunkport (Israel is doing the Lord’s work.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kenny Bunkport
I buy new releases on CD and on vinyl.

I opted for the $12 CD instead of the $15 2LP set for a band's album that I bought this weekend but mostly because it was cheaper and because it is still a hassle (but not impossible) for me to put a record (I own) to CD.
6 posted on 07/18/2006 11:00:59 AM PDT by weegee (Merry Jo Kopechne Day!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: weegee
Yes, how many copies of Thriller can a store use?

I find if I'm looking for records it's for something that's never been released on CD--I buy a ton of movie scores. If something's on CD, I buy a CD, so the store owners must follow that logic, too.

I went on a binge last week and came home and glanced at my stack of unwrapped, to-be-listened-to CDs which I already have. There were 28 there, PLUS my new purchases. Think I have a problem?

Payday tomorrow, so I'll tour the record stores again, but just looking, of course...:)

7 posted on 07/18/2006 11:01:52 AM PDT by Darkwolf377 (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kenny Bunkport

iTunes has been deadly to me lately. Especially the "For You" section. Some of the stuff I don't like, but they have nailed me pretty good on a bunch of music. And then when the receipt comes in my email, it shocks me how much I spend at the store.

8 posted on 07/18/2006 11:05:26 AM PDT by Mr. Blonde (You know, Happy Time Harry, just being around you kinda makes me want to die.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: weegee; sully777; rzeznikj at stout
Worst-Album-Art-Ever crossover Ping

9 posted on 07/18/2006 11:10:14 AM PDT by martin_fierro (</quip>)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro; sully777

Thanks for the ping...

On my way out the door, but I've got a couple I'll post when I get back tonight...

10 posted on 07/18/2006 11:16:26 AM PDT by rzeznikj at stout (ASCII and ye shall receive... (Computers 3:14))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Frank Black - the post teenage years..

11 posted on 07/18/2006 11:19:29 AM PDT by Millee (Tagline misplaced)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: weegee

If they start releasing,in serious quantities,stuff from the 50's and 60's...folk,pop,rock,"standards", "high definition" then I'll be there with my credit card at the ready.A little bit of that stuff...e.g.,Dylan and the Stones...has been released in "hi def",but there's almost nothing released in the last 15-20 years that I'm at all interested in buying on CD or download.

12 posted on 07/18/2006 11:22:13 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kenny Bunkport; Mr. Blonde
I have about 100 gigs of music, about 3 from iTunes.

Everything I buy from iTunes is something which is simply not in print on CD or something which is ridiculously overpriced on CD.

I prefer to own stuff on CD for now, until iTunes comes up with a truly lossless format.

My CDs remain higher-fi than iTunes for now.

13 posted on 07/18/2006 11:25:42 AM PDT by wideawake ("The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten." - Calvin Coolidge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Darkwolf377
At this same store, I was able to get a 5CD set (gently used) of Charlie Patton blues 78s.

Now I'd had 1 cassette of his material compiled by Yazoo Records (and knew there was a second volume) but I was unaware that there was this much (and used it was as much as a new CD).

So it may have been overload, but I bought it (I think other multi-disc titles from this company, which largely deals in public domain recordings, retail for $18-25).

Stores that deal in used CDs could clear out those used bins (and help people make music discoveries) if they'd drop the used price to $6-8 instead of $8-11).

I typically buy DVDs in stores or online for $10-15 each (some of those are double features, or at least double discs including the supplements).

Hollywood knows that lowering the prices increases sales and interest.

And if you factor in all of the money for old music and movies that should've already lapsed into the public domain and price-fixing in the industry and major label payola keeping crap dominant on radio airways, it is no mystery as to why the record industry believes they are in the doldrums.

Truth be told, it was the burp of the baby boom that gave them false perceptions. I recently watched an episode of Tomorrow with Tom Snyder interviewing Bill Graham, Kim Fowley, Joan Jett, and others about the state of the (then current) 1977 music industry.

Bill Graham looked at the bottom line and said that acts were selling 5million units when in the 1960s, 500,000albums would've been a "hit".

So now that we are back down to the lower figures (Johnny Cash recently got a #1 DEBUT), it "must" be because talent does not exist. Not because the suits have no taste, had no taste, and haven't grown up.

Kim Fowley pointed out that Joan Jett (then in the Runaways) was famous in Japan. That in Japan, kids buy rock and roll and that adults leave it alone when they hit 20. In America, you had bands like The Eagles programmed for people who were 30.

Same as it ever was.

14 posted on 07/18/2006 11:33:31 AM PDT by weegee (Merry Jo Kopechne Day!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: weegee
You have excellent taste in music.

This was my first CD purchase as a senior in high school (1992).

Rolling Stone had reviewed three new Patton releases at the time, giving them 4 or 5 stars each. Anytime I found a new, unfamiliar artist (especially older music) I'd usually check him/her out.

Of course, all my friends were listening to Metallica's "Black Album" at the time, which isn't terrible, but it's nothing earth-shattering either.

15 posted on 07/18/2006 11:41:10 AM PDT by jdm
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Gay State Conservative
Hi Def releases of old recordings (pre-digital era) will always be subject to tape hiss.

And remastered releases also face the problem of subtle remixing (more prominent placement of some instruments/vocal, occasional overdubs, fadeout too soon or later than normal, and even the occasional gaffe of releasing an alternate take altogether).

I know that there will be subtle surface noise in some recordings. In the case of old blues, country, etc, mastering may even be done from one of the few remaining copies of this disc or that. I accept the limitations.

I grew up in an era of black and white and color television. Of rabbit ear antenna and fading radio signals (waving in and out or other signals drifting in over them). Of multigeneration copies of tapes passed around.

I'll take a recording in the best condition I can get it, but I don't get worked up over limitations in the source material (instead I get burning mad when I buy a DVD of something, say the Rocky & Bullwinkle episodes, and the studio has superimposed a watermark stamp on the lower right hand corner of EVERY DAMN CHAPTER). I bought it, I don't need to be reminded of what I am watching, thank you.

I can accept substandard source materials (if it is all that exists) but cannot accept deliberate marring of a release.

16 posted on 07/18/2006 11:44:02 AM PDT by weegee (Merry Jo Kopechne Day!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: jdm
Robert Crumb (who drew that cover) was completely out of step with his times. He was buying old jazz and blues 78s in the 1960s (when acid rock and "blues influenced" bands were the thing).

And the jazz records he liked weren't the sort of thing that music snobs appreciated either. He was buying big band recordings. Searching out things that sounded like the music in the 1930s cartoons and Hal Roach (Our Gang/Laurel & Hardy) shorts.

Now that he's in France, he's been getting into accordion music and other things.

It's not easy to break out from the group think and social acceptance that "liking the same bands" affords.

Some people start to experience new music when they get to high school (or college). Some have parents/families that expose them to different bands at "home". Some never leave the top 40 plantation.

The dominant culture sure doesn't like to see people develop independent taste. Go to Best Buy and they'll try to keep giving you free subscriptions to Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly. Just to make sure that you know who's "popular" this week and who you should be buying if you want people to be happy at your party.

As an aside, I recently read that Sid Vicious was spotted one Christmas listening to an old Jim Reeves record that made him nostalgic for either his mom or grandmother's home.
17 posted on 07/18/2006 11:55:20 AM PDT by weegee (Merry Jo Kopechne Day!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: wideawake

A recent article in Mojo magazine said that with online services like iTunes (which are now seeing the rerelease of titles that have been out of print on CD and vinyl for over a decade), titles may never go "OOP" again.

And with some out of print CDs getting $40-100 used on Amazon, it is in the artist's best interest to license them for download (unless the artist is sitting on a hefty stack of unsold CDs).

18 posted on 07/18/2006 11:58:32 AM PDT by weegee (Merry Jo Kopechne Day!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Millee
Those post teenage years were busy ones. . . .

19 posted on 07/18/2006 9:17:13 PM PDT by Mike Bates (Irish Alzheimer's victim: I only remember the grudges.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson