Record stores, CDs a remnant of the past in the digital age
Published: Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 15:07
In six years, the value of the digital music industry has increased by more than 1000 percent, according to a 2011 report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). The report states that "consumers worldwide are embracing digital media…and changing the way they access entertainment."
Downloads are leading the digital music revolution. According to IFPI, iTunes has sold more than 10 million downloads since its inception in 2003.
"I don't remember the last time I bought a CD that wasn't blank," said Wilmington resident Erin Barone.
With more than 400 licensed digital music services worldwide carrying 13 million tracks, the purchase of individual tracks as well as entire albums is now only a matter of a few clicks.
Despite the fact that CD sales are down and digital sales are up, local record stores are still standing strong in the belief that they have something to offer that iTunes cannot.
"I buy 90 percent of my music online from various DJ sites and iTunes," said Jeph Caulder, a local DJ. "But I love when I can find vinyl at local music stores."
Record stores and supporters across the globe celebrated the fourth annual Record Store Day April 16. Special vinyl and CD releases and exclusive limited edition products hit the shelves on the third Saturday in April each year in celebration of music and the unique culture surrounding independently owned record stores.
Gravity Records in Wilmington saw its best day in five years on April 16. According to owner Matt Keen, "We're here," but business is tough.
Before opening Gravity Records in 2004, Keen managed a chain of record stores called Manifest Discs and Tapes. The owner sold the chain because he wanted to get out. "It's gotten that much harder to sell physical music or music in general," said Keen.
Keen has a unique way of thinking about downloads. "You pay for nothing," he said. "It's almost like you're getting a cheap photocopy."
On the other hand, "a record retains some value," said Keen. "You could trade it back in, and you'd be contributing twice to the local economy."
Another option that is easy and often goes unpunished is illegal downloading.
"It's tough to sell music when people can just steal it," said Keen.
During the 2009-10 academic year, UNCW logged 178 cases of misuse of university technology according to Ben Ojala, assistant dean of students. Almost all of these were instances of illegal file sharing, Ojala said.
According to a 2007 study by the Institute for Policy Innovation, U.S. workers in the sound recording industry and downstream retail industries are losing more than one billion dollars annually as a result of piracy, and workers in other industries are losing $1.6 billion a year. The report also states that federal, state and local governments lose more than $400 million in tax revenues a year as a consequence of sound recording piracy.
However, some, like former UNCW student Michael Glazier, don't pay for music and don't get it illegally either. "I haven't bought music in years," said Glazier. Instead, he listens to free online radios like Pandora and Grooveshark.
Pandora's Music Genome Project is an analysis of the individual "genes" that make up songs like melody, harmony, instrumentation, arrangement and lyrics. Songs with similar qualities are grouped together to create unique radio stations based on the listener's choice of artist, composer, song or genre.