18 April 2009

Happy NRSD!

Today is National Record Shop Day in the UK - so to all of those independent record stores across the country, congratulations!

But is NRSD masking a very depressing truth? The very depressing truth that aside from not buying many physical records these days, we're just not buying as much music as we used to altogether?

The members of The Pirate Bay were sentenced and ordered to pay millions in damages yesterday, but their story is testament to the fact that no-one wants to pay money for their music any more. Sites are now offering free access to music that hasn't even been released yet and it's going to cost the industry badly if more sites like The Pirate Bay aren't put to trial (and let's not forget that this problem spreads into film and TV too - "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" has recently become the most illegally downloaded film of all time and it hasn't even had a cinema release here yet!)

Aside from illegal downloading, sites like iTunes are making sure that people are only buying singles from albums rather than investing some money in the whole works of a band or artist. Elbow frontman Guy Garvey was particularly furious about this after the release of "The Seldom Seen Kid", saying that he wants people to listen to the whole album and see it as a musical journey rather than spending 79p on "Grounds For Divorce" just because it was played on Radio 1 a few times. It makes you wonder whether artists are just going to release nothing but singles in a few years - Ash has already taken that road, and it wouldn't be surprising if many others followed behind.

Add to this the threat from websites like Amazon and Play - they'll send you CDs and offer you downloads at a fraction of the cost of any record shop with free postage and packaging. The technological age is probably having a particularly adverse effect on stores, so many will probably have to use their own websites to keep afloat.

It all adds up to a pretty depressing outlook for our independent record stores - the only one I can really think of in my area recently closed down (presumably because there was a lack of interest). My most local HMV store has reduced its music section by around 70% and is overloaded with DVDs and games - it's obvious what people want, I suppose.

Well, I don't really want to end on a very gloomy note so I'll just say congratulations again - have some cake, enjoy the company of fellow survivors.

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