Yes, in the past two years we’ve seen Easy Street’s Queen Anne location become a Chase branch and Sonic Boom scale back to a single shop in Ballard. The good news for record buyers who prefer the discovery and support system that only an independent record store can provide is that surviving shops are facing less competition and, according to Nielsen Soundscan’s Dave Bakula, enjoying greater stability. “For the consumer that wants to buy their music at that kind of store,” he says, “that’s where you’re going.” For those with a different kind of experience in mind, there have never been so many ways to get music: on your phone, on your desktop, or on your trip to buy a plunger.
At the same time that streaming services like Rhapsody and Spotify have reeled in more than two million American subscribers to pay $10 a month to stream millions of songs to their computers and smartphones, cassettes are still being made, mp3s have never sold better, and—for reasons about to be made clear—thousands of Americans are enthusiastically buying Lynyrd Skynyrd’s greatest-hits CD every week.
No matter your jam, there’s never been more ways to find it.
Saturday, April 20 is Record Store Day, an annual event in which more than 400 releases are available only at independent record stores. To commemorate these retailers’ biggest day of the year, we take a look at how consumers are getting their music in 2013, and what these opportunities mean for buyers and sellers of all kinds. E
—Chris Kornelis, Seattle Weekly music editor