why record stores matter

So there’s been a lot of drama on my local electronic music message board, about the whole vinyl vs. digital thing, and the value of analog and quality control in music and so on and so on and so on.  The dead horse continues to be beaten.

With that said, I’m almost entirely certain that record stores will never die.  Or, if they do, they probably shouldn’t.  This is because they’re there for music, not for attention.  The digital world is almost entirely a medium that is hungry for attention:  labels and artists and distros all shout out “HAMMERED BY ALL THE TOP JOCKS!  PETE TONG’S #1 TUNE!  HUGE FOR TIESTO AND VAN DYK!”  These people need your traffic and your money, and it shows.

A store, on the other hand, while it is no less needy in terms of customer dollars and cents, gives you things, forces them on you.  It filters the entire world of electronic music through the lens of the staff of the store.  They sort the wheat from the chaff, they tell you “here, give this a listen”, they say “I really like this”.  They are, or should be, there for you.  A record store offers another perspective on the gargantuan, fractal-expanding world of music.  It prevents you from totally disappearing up your own ass, and bludgeons you with the fact that you Do Not Know Everything.  All of those things are beyond valuable, and are the reason why the shops won’t go away any time soon.