When I was 21 I landed a coveted job at the newly opened Streetside records in suburban Kansas City. This was a dream job. I got to be immersed in all sorts of music 30 hours a week, and someone paid me to push my musical taste on people that came through the doors. I worked part time at Street Side off and on for 5 years. This was what seemed like the golden age of the record store. Vinyl was still popular even though CD’s were slowly taking over the business. Import albums were readily available, and being able to purchase a record with alternate tracks, or mixes on them was fantastic.
Today I read that today 97% of high school aged kids have never been to a record store. I can see that being 100% correct. Look at the landscape today. Everything is digital, and you don’t need to go. You can buy one off singles, or full albums right on your phone and download the tracks as you go about your business. I have to admit, I am a guilty participant when it comes to this behavior. When I got my first iPod (first generation click wheel) I ripped all my CD’s and took the leap to all digital all the time.
Thank god we have Jack White though.At SXSW this year, White launched his rolling record store. Think of it as a bookmobile for records. Yes I know I just dated myself even more with that reference. The store is called Third Man Rolling Record Store, and is designed to bring the record store experience to the people, since the people won’t go to record stores. I love the idea of this. White is bringing the allure of discovery, of browsing to find an unknown gem, of records. When I think back about vinyl, and the physicality of having to actually get involved with a record beyond a swipe and a tap, it makes me wish I had kept all my records and bought that 1960’s Braun, Dieter Rams turntable when I had the chance.