Friday, April 18, 2008

Remember LP's? Celebrate Record Store Day!

Just this month it was announced that the Apple iTunes store has surpassed Wal-Mart to become the biggest music retailer in the US. With the increased popularity of online downloading of music, both paid and unpaid, the record store has become a rare retail sight in our cities. With the record album format near extinction, one of my favourite pastimes of browsing through the used record bins is a foreign sight for many young music fans. I used to love spending my Saturdays and spare cash on those black vinyl 7" and 12" discs and making my rounds to the many new and used record stores on or near Portage Ave in the once popular downtown Winnipeg, searching for rarities and overlooked classics. Kids nowadays buy their music at BestBuy, Starbucks, Wal-Mart and Indigo/Chapter's book stores or they pay a dollar a song for a low quality compressed sounding, use restricted digital mp3 file from iTunes. There's something wrong with this phenomenon, the independent record (music..CD/cassette, LP) store employs "music" knowledgeable staff and doesn't rely on the sale of top 30 music to survive. These people listen to music, they talk about music and best of all they love music and want to introduce others to music they want to share.

On Saturday, April 19, 2008 hundreds of independently owned record stores across Canada and the US will celebrate "Record Store Day". On this day participating stores will host events and celebrate the culture and community of the record store. Many of these stores will have musicians perform and work behind the counter to greet customers and share their love and joy of vinyl. As you may have guessed I'm still a big fan of vinyl, my record's occupy a major place of my dining room shelves and in boxes in my basement and my parent's house. Yes, I still have a operating turntable and as a matter of fact I just ordered (2 days ago) a portable turntable so I can inflict my co-workers with my vinyl addiction. Sure i have piles of CD's, cassettes and a mp3 player, but there are many Lp's that have been transferred to digital or aren't available on CD. While music formats get smaller and more compact, the record album features a large cardboard sleeve with easy to read jacket notes, great graphics and as any record snob would say, a warmer (though somewhat scratchier) full sounding experience. Sometimes I feel a lot like the John Cusack character (Rob Gordon) in the film, High Fidelity, because music does have an influence on how I'm feeling and how it reflects on everything I do. I must have a top 5 list for all the people I meet (both love and hate) and the life experiences we encounter on a daily basis...and my dream was to own a record store! Let the dream a record this Saturday...or at least play one.

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