…ok, it’s corny to use a lyric from a song I wrote in high school as a subject line…especially if that lyric is to a song that you could not possibly have heard. Also…since the line is…badly written…but it suits the blog so I continue!!
I miss record stores. ‘Record Store’ probably means something different to everyone. To me, it’s the Used Record Stores of Guelph, Orillia, and the side streets of Toronto that I used to frequent in the early 90s. I would flip through the vinyl (or cassettes, at the start, and later the CDs) and grab sometimes ten…twenty at a time!
I’d discover new (old) bands based on the album cover, or having heard of them before in passing (Pixies, FM, Hawkwind) or because it was next to an album by a band I liked and was only $3 so who cares!!
It was a very cool experience: flipping through albums and discovering treasures. I found the Peter Hammill albums that a friend played for me when I was younger…the Jazz Butcher, Nash the Slash…
I found an album from the late 70s of electronic music that sounds like an early version of house, where no instruments were listed…just ‘Computors.’ (sic)
I found full length LPs with singles I heard on the radio, and then had a chance to hear the rest of the album. Sometimes I was lucky…other times…the album sucked.
It was, for lack of a less lame word, an adventure every time I walked into one. I knew I’d be leaving with something, I just didn’t know what.
That whole experience is kinda gone now. Ric’s Collectables on Main Street closed down right under my nose…I walked by it a thousand times but only went in twice. The three stores I used to visit in Guelph are gone. I’m not sure if Round Again Records in Orillia has survived.
Worse, the last record store I visited in Toronto, just yesterday…it ‘looked‘ like an old dingy used record store, but the prices certainly didn’t match. ($20 for a wrecked copy of XTC that I picked up a decade ago for $4? Seriously?)
I’d love to find a way to bring that feeling to the modern age but…its hard to see how. iTunes and online digital music retailers are boring. Sure, I can flip through at a million miles a minute, find the album I’m curious about with a search, even preview it by pressing play…but the ability to discover the albums ‘around‘ it doesn’t exist anymore.
Google and Facebook don’t even really let me discover anything new anymore. The algorithms are designed to help me find things based on what I’ve already found. Over time, a search online will only point you in the directions you’ve taken before, never down a path you didn’t know you wanted to take.
Is that progress?!
I’m not pessimistic, though. The pendulum always swings back and I’d be surprised if reaction to ‘personalized search’ doesn’t lead to a more randomized option.
And with record stores, they are pretty much fading, but something new and adventurous will be on the way.
When I spot the seeds of that new idea sprouting I’ll be sure to talk about it here!
Or…if you see it…please let me know! I’d rather find out from a real person about a cool new twist on the record store than try to find it online!