Death of the Record Store
This Sunday's New York Times had an article entitled "The Graying of the Record Store," discussing the struggle of local, independent record stores in the age of downloading.
The problem is not so much illegal downloading as it is a generational shift: younger people usually acquire all their music on the internet, leaving CD and record consumption to the "graying" folks.
"In the era of iTunes and MySpace, the customer base that still thinks of
recorded music as a physical commodity (that is, a CD), as opposed to a digital
file to be downloaded, is shrinking and aging..."
Libraries are obviously struggling with this very issue amongst the younger generation: why check out a CD from the library if you can listen to it on the internet for free? The answer may not even be related to the physicial commodity of music at all:
"The neighborhood record store was once a clubhouse for teenagers, a place to
escape parents, burn allowances and absorb the latest trends in fashion as well
With the disappearance of local record stores, teens are losing a valuable "third place." Although it may be cheap to purchase CDs at warehouse stores like Best Buy and Circuit City, these places are not comfortable enough to hang out in and do not offer an atmosphere where people can talk about music or even comfortably listen to new music before purchasing. This is a good chance for the library to step in and take this role. Again, I will emphasize that libraries install listening stations, host listening parties for new albums, and the like.
If your town has lost its independent record stores, you would be filling a social void. And if your town is still lucky enough to have independent record stores (bless the Twin Cities), this would be a great chance to partner with them on cross-promotion. Have you considered ordering your library's new music through your local record store, rather than a national distributor? From my experience, it is just as cheap and easy as ordering through larger companies. The other benefit: the sales contacts know more about music and can even help you select titles. Try finding a person with extensive knowlege of rare 60's Japanese pysch-rock bands at Wal-Mart. I dare you.