2024-07-24 18:19:22
Music retailers need to reinvent themselves in face of a heavy competition from the online world and mass retailers market data/music

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/22/2006 | Music dies at Tower on Broad St.

Amid the holiday rush, Tower Records’ Center City store went out of business yesterday, two months after the once-revered chain was acquired for liquidation.

Not all record stores are suffering equally. Many local emporiums, like
hip-hop- and R&B-heavy Armand’s Records in Center City, and
WXPN-centric Main Street Music in Manayunk, are struggling to get by.
Others, like wide-ranging a.k.a. music in Old City and Repo’s South
Street store, which specializes in indie rock, are thriving.

Though downloading is inexorably eating into CD sales, “it still
only makes up about 5 or 6 percent of the business,” said Billboard
magazine’s Geoff Mayfield. He blames Tower’s demise equally on “lowball
pricing from mass merchants,” meaning stores like Best Buy, Target and
Wal-Mart. Those stores often sell new releases for as little as $9.99
to lure Jay-Z or U2 fans who might also pick up a digital camera or a
washing machine.

[see the same problem on the video rental and retail market from a few days ago.]

“It’s a struggle,” said Ben-Moyal, whose second-floor Chestnut
Street store was all but empty one afternoon this week. Business is
down 70 percent over the last few years, he says, partly due to a new
computer program, the Serato Scratch Live, that lets DJs use MP3 files
instead of the vinyl LPs that were the backbone of his business.

Store owners face a laundry list of obstacles. There’s a music-sharing culture in which 2.8 billion
ready-to-burn blank CDs were sold in 2006, according to the Consumer
Electronics Association, compared with about 588 million CDs of
recorded music. There’s competition from the likes of Amazon.com for
baby boomers who are too busy or intimidated to venture into stores.

Another approach that works at independent record stores, Donio said, is “the High Fidelity model, where it’s more about the music culture in the store.”

That’s the strategy of Amoeba Records, the three-store mini-chain on
the West Coast, whose stores offer such a vast selection of new and
used CDs that they are regarded as a Mecca to music-lovers. Co-owner
Marc Weinstein calls his customers “culture hounds” – as good a term as
any for the customers at a.k.a. on Second Street, where business this
week was buzzing.

“We really try to carry a vast array of different types of music,
and try to be as completist as possible,” said a.k.a.’s Mike Hoffman, a
former Third Street Jazz employee who carries 35,000 titles in his Old
City store. He said business is up three percent this year. “We really
cater to music heads.”

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