On this holiest of holy days — Record Store Day, of course — former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr took to Facebook to lament the ongoing loss of record stores, calling them “a very important kind of shop,” and blaming greedy landlords for pricing music more and more retailers “out of their premises and livelihoods, and our culture.”
Calling records “a great piece of cultural art,” Marr warns that the shift to digital “isn’t exactly the whole story” when it comes to the loss of record stores: “It wasn’t all the fault of The Megabyte and Pixel.”
Read Marr’s full note:
Landlords Stole My Records Off The Street
To me a record shop isn’t a “specialist” shop, or a thrift store either, it’s just a kind of shop, a very important kind of shop.
Record shops were meeting places where you learnt about music, clothes, style and clubs. Everyone in my town who was interesting was in the record shop at some point.
There’s so much talk about the death of vinyl versus the download boom as if we all fled away from records because we love our iPods too much, but that isn’t exactly the whole story.
One of the main reasons why vinyl sales have declined is because when we walk down our streets we don’t see any. The greed of local councils and lease owning landlords has meant that our towns and cities have replaced the record shops (and clothes shops) we all liked with over priced sandwich shops and Bistro Bars.
All through the nineties stores that were rented and run by enthusiasts of say, photography and cameras, as well as music, got totally priced out of their premises and livelihoods, and our culture, by councils and landlords with The Next Quid and Starbucks Dollar in their eyes, it wasn’t all the fault of The Megabyte and Pixel, and now what’s left ?, high streets that are so expensive to rent that only the richest, and therefore blandest of commercial giants can afford to ride out the recession there; bad news for us, especially if you want a great piece of cultural art, which is what a record actually is.
Record stores aren’t selling quirky old artifacts. We’re starting to think of them as quirky and specialist because our greedy high street culture has told us that’s the case.
If they were able to function as commercial premises on our streets then the stuff they sell would flourish, and that doesn’t mean ditching our beloved iPods, It just means owning a great piece of work by our favourite band with a piece of real art on the cover, and something that actually sounds good too. Not bad for the price of two Lattes.
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