This past weekend I was in Uppsala to attend the Uppsala Reggae Festival. During my stay I had some spare time, and decided to find a record store or two. Since I didn’t find any using Google I posted a question on Facebook where to find record stores in Uppsala. The only answer I got was the rather laconic “record stores, what’s that?”
And that’s actually terrible, because it’s true.
Few people are buying physical records these days and even fewer buy them in a physical venue. In this digital age most people – myself included – buy records, digital or physical, online using Amazon and other huge retailers.
There’s of course an ever increasing amount of people that are using streaming services such as Spotify or Wimp. And don’t get me started on the whole piracy issue.
Personally, I love record stores. At the age of twelve I started hanging out in record stores in Stockholm at least once a week.
Nowadays I don’t visit them as much. Partly because the number of physical retailers, in Sweden as well as in other places, has decreased. And the ones that are still with us have a limited stock, which makes it much easier to buy online.
The number of music retailers continues to fall and will probably do so in the coming years as well. And that’s a real pity. I believe that the physical shops fill an important function that can’t be found online.
I mean, you don’t have that scent of vintage vinyl records. Sure some people may call it musty, but it’s rather the scent of history.
You also have the record store clerks, or may I call some of them nerds. You don’t have these people to talk to and discuss with on Amazon. You can of course find the information on Internet forums and blogs these days. But again, it’s not the same as the actual conversation.
If you purchase your records online you also miss out on all the great surprises that can be found in the physical store. Online you can type in your keywords and probably get the exact information. But, in the store there’s another type of hunting going on. I just love to leaf through the record bins until my arms hurt and fingers turn red. And the store clerks can show you some nice items from behind the counter. I’ve several times been invited to the back of the store to check out the rarities sold. You don’t get that online.
When in a store you can also choose for yourself what songs to listen to and for how long. Online – someone else has chosen for you. Sure, it might be comfortable, but I want to decide for myself.