Almighty Press

One-Day Record-Store Revival

April 16, 2011 - Wall Street Journal


Other Music in the East Village, above, is one of the city's few remaining brick-and-mortar record stores.

When mouse-clicking fingers replaced album-flipping thumbs as music consumers' digit of choice, New York City lost almost all of its once-proud record-shop subculture.

Long gone are most of the neighborhood retailers as well as the behemoths like Tower Records and the Virgin Megastore. But a handful of hardy brick-and-mortar merchants are hanging on, and Saturday marks a sort of celebration for these against-the-odds businesses.

The fourth annual Record Store Day brings limited-edition releases by an eclectic array of artists—including Fleet Foxes, Nirvana, Lady Gaga and Fela Kuti—to independently owned record stores across the country. In New York, at least 40 stores will participate in the one-day event.

Vinyl is the main lure: Most of the limited-edition items available this year can only be played with a needle. Vinyl sales surged by 376% on last year's Record Store Day compared to same-day sales in the previous year, according to Billboard statistics.

Michael Kurtz, the co-founder of the event, said he was "completely shocked" by the dramatic upswing in vinyl sales. The first Record Store Day, in 2008, drove about $25,000 in sales nationally, he said. For the 2011 event, there will be nearly 300 special releases and about $3 million of merchandise shipped to participating stores.

"It's now our largest [sales] day," Mr. Kurtz said. "It surpasses Christmas."

The city's remaining record-store population now stands at just 69, according to market research firm Almighty Music Marketing. Joel Oberstein, the firm's president, estimated that there were more than 200 stores in 2003, a time when the city was "heavily saturated" and before a wave of store closures that began in 2006.

Many of the New York stores participating in Record Store Day are not survivors from the glory days of music retail but newish startups swimming against the digital stream. Permanent Records, a compact outpost in Greenpoint, launched seven years ago on Long Island and relocated in 2007 to be near Brooklyn's live-music nexus. Last year's event had avid collectors lined up outside before the store opened, something the clerks had never experienced before.

Marjorie Eisenberg, the store's owner, is blunt about her business prospects. "Am I ever going to be a millionaire? No," she admitted. "Can I support myself? Yes, thankfully. But it's a struggle."

Longer-established stores feel that same uncertainty. Josh Madell, co-owner of Other Music in Manhattan's East Village, has kept his tiny shop afloat since 1995 by selling an array of indie rock and avant garde artists. The store's location -- across the street from the giant and now-defunct Tower Records -- was once his greatest asset.

"Tower brought a lot of music shoppers to the neighborhood, and we were good neighbors for each other," he said. "We used to send people over there all the time for stuff we didn't carry, and they would also send people to our store for stuff they didn't have."

But the death of the local retail giants hasn't been all bad. When Virgin's Union Square store closed in 2009, it left college students in the area with few alternatives. "We definitely picked up some business," Madell said. "A lot of kids used to shop there and they now come to us."

One of the longest record-store survivors sits on the far eastern edge of Bayside, Queens. Anthony Cascella opened Breakdown Records 25 years ago, and he still plies his trade amid dusty racks of cheaply priced vinyl and CDs.

"When we first opened it was mainly vinyl, and then CDs came along and made vinyl virtually obsolete," he said. "But once downloading began people rediscovered vinyl because they felt more of a connection to it."

Record Store Day feeds into that sense of connection to tangible LPs and 45s, which Cascella likens to collecting "baseball cards or comic books."

But even as the one-day event has blossomed into a sales bonanza for these stores, it also highlights the challenges they face in retaining customers once it's over.

"We work hard to make it a fun experience for people, to have staff there who are knowledgeable, who love to talk about records, who are good at recommending things," Madell said. His business also keeps one foot on both side of the digital-vinyl divide, running a modest download operation through Other Music's website.

Eisenberg and Cascella have also turned to online strategies. "We did a Groupon at the very end of the year and it was extremely successful," Eisenberg said, "so we have a whole gang of other customers that we would never have had had we not done that."

Cascella's cluttered shop is also headquarters to a successful eBay store. "That's how we survive these days," he said.

But it's the real-world performance of stores this Saturday that will be of paramount interest to industry analysts. "If it keeps going and artists keep adopting and embracing it like they are now, I could see in two to three years in that one day we'll be creating upwards of $10 million of commerce," Kurtz said. "Which, in this environment, is huge."

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Article List

November 21, 2013 - New York Times - Records Are Dying? Not Here

March 27, 2013 - Glendale News-Press - It's a matter of record: Burbank's Atomic Records and Backside

December 30, 2012 - Detroit News - As one record shop closes, vinyl music plays on in another

April 20, 2012 - - New vinyl album releases give record stores a kick

November 20, 2011 - - In an iTunes age, do we need the record store?

June 9, 2011 - - Curmudgeon Records closes its doors for good

April 16, 2011 - Wall Street Journal - One-Day Record-Store Revival

February 1, 2011 - Charlottesville News & Arts - Plan 9 Changes Location

August 13, 2010 - The Tennesean - Anita Wadhwani: Nashville indie record stores' sales spin in right direction

January 3, 2010 - Delaware News Journal - Delaware music shops get creative to compete with downloads, chain music stores

September 24, 2009 - Los Angeles Times - L.A. independent record shop is still in a groove

August 20, 2009 - CNN Money - You can make money off online music

June 14, 2009 - New York Times - Retailing Era Closes With Music Megastore

May 13, 2009 - Medill Reports - Resurgence in vinyl helps record store in recession

April 26, 2009 - Los Angeles Times - In a digital age, vinyl albums are making a comeback

April 18, 2009 - Charlotte Observer - Record stores band together

April 17, 2009 - Detroit News - Record Store Day spins profits and good beats at Metro Detroit shops

April 17, 2009 - Associated Press - Record Store Day celebrates indie retailers

April 10, 2009 - Detroit News - Street Corner Music moving to Oak Park plaza

April 10, 2009 - Toledo Free Press - New record store shakes up Adams Street

January 8, 2009 - OC Register - Closing date for Virgin Megastore at The Block

October 28, 2008 - Reuters - AC/DC back in "Black" with global smash

September 23, 2008 - Chicago Daily Herald - Independent music stores haven't yet disappeared from suburbia

June 23, 2008 - New York Times - For Tom Petty Fans, the True Sound of Vinyl, Also Captured on a CD

April 19, 2008 - Lafayette Journal Courier - For some, record stores live on

April 19, 2008 - New Jersey Star Ledger - It's Record Store Day. Play it again, Sam!

April 18, 2008 - New York Times - Record Stores Fight to Be Long-Playing

April 18, 2008 - Dallas Morning News - Retailers hope Record Store Day turns up volume at mom-and-pop shops

April 16, 2008 - Timeout New York - Platter Up

December 27, 2007 - Los Angeles Times - Virgin Megastore to close shop

December 16, 2007 - New York Times - For a "Dinosaur," an Exuberant Second Life (Looney Tunes Reopens)

December 3, 2007 - Detroit Free Press - The same old song: Music store closing

November 7, 2007 - Washington Post - Eagles soar past Britney to top of charts

November 4, 2007 - The Ledger - Two Young Entrepreneurs Unafraid of Risk of Going on Records

August 20, 2007 - Billboard - Almighty Taps Hans As VP

June 29, 2007 - ABC News - Long Live the Record Store

June 28, 2007 - Orange County Weekly - Locals Only

June 13, 2007 - Reuters - McCartney's Starbucks album heats up U.S. charts

June 9, 2007 - Billboard - Commentary: Retail Recovery

May 9, 2007 - Columbia Free Times - High Fidelity

March 22, 2007 - NARM Awards - Almighty Retail Named NARM Related Supplier Finalist For Third Consecutive Year

March 16, 2007 - Chortler - Shout! Factory Has Revamped Its Website

March 9, 2007 - - Internet killed the record store?

March 4, 2007 - Sacramento Bee - New groove for Solomon

February 28, 2007 - USA Today - Exclusives aim to pull music fans into stores

February 28, 2007 - New York Newsday - Latin record shops thrive despite changes in music business

February 23, 2007 - Montpelier Bridge - Buch Spieler Sails On Despite a Music Industry Decline

November 20, 2006 - Austin 360 - In Austin, Niche Indies Rule

October 20, 2006 - Sacramento Bee - Tower brand could survive

October 15, 2006 - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Tables have turned on record stores

October 14, 2006 - Sacramento Bee - Small labels lose valuable ally in Tower

October 6, 2006 - Desert Sun - Record Alley remodels

September 27, 2006 - Music & Copyright - Niche Marketing of CD albums continues to rise in the US and Physical Sales overall decline

September 22, 2006 - - Indie stores confront a new era

September 19, 2006 - New York Newsday - 34 years, and that's not all, folks

August 18, 2006 - The Roanoke Times - Plan 9 Music puts new spin on 5 Record Exchange stores

August 3, 2006 - The Hollywood Reporter - Nervous music retailers face hazy digital future

July 16, 2006 - New York Times - The Graying of the Record Store

July 13, 2006 - Rolling Stone - The iTunes Holdouts

July 11, 2006 - Roanoke Times - Record store's "last dance"

July 5, 2006 - Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader - Quimper Sound moves, expands to change with times

June 6, 2006 - Billboard - NARM Nominations Announced

May 10, 2006 - Detroit MetroTimes - Out of the Groove

March 18, 2006 - Billboard - Indies in a bind

January 16, 2006 - Los Angeles Business Journal - Slipped Discs

January 6, 2006 - Los Angeles Times - Indie record stores doing slow fade out

December 26, 2005 - Los Angeles Times - The Music Stops for Indie Shop

December 1, 2005 - Rolling Stone - Fall Sales Dry Up

October 13, 2005 - Desert Sun - Music snobs rejoice: Independent record stores still thrive in desert

September 12, 2005 - Salt Lake Tribune - Twilight for Starbound Records

August 18, 2005 - New York Post - Oldies are now singing a new tune - Music stores go digital

July 2005 - Rolling Stone - Record Biz Still Sinking

June 18, 2005 - Billboard - NARM Noms Announced

March 21, 2005 - CMJ - Hart of the Matter

February 16, 2005 - MSN - Genius Loves Company

October 12, 2004 - Rolling Stone - Wal-Mart wants $10 CDs

July 10, 2004 - Billboard - Almighty Institute To The Rescue

January 14, 2004 - Creative Loafing Charlotte - Manifest Destiny

December 29, 2003 - New York Times - on the rise of mass marketers

November 13, 2003 - Rolling Stone - Best Buy snags rights to band's new DVD

October 9, 2003 - USA Today - Best Buy wins sales rights to Rolling Stones DVD box set

October 6, 2003 - Reuters - Stones Paint It Black For Retailers

May 31, 2003 - Billboard - Retail Track

May 9, 2003 - Hits - Rerap

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