This summer the Seattle Weekly has had a couple of profiles of the owners of both Easy Street Records and Sonic Boom Records. The articles were interesting and gave a good perspective on the philosophy, and sacrifice it takes to run a successful store in this day and age of digital music. Matt Vaughan, Easy Street owner, and Sonic Boom owners Jason Hughes and Nabil Ayers tell of sleeping in the back room of the store and surviving on little money in the early days. Those were the early years, today, both stores seem to be thriving with multiple locations around town.
So based on this anecdotal evidence, I wonder how it can be that the music industry is in such peril and the demise of the cd is just around the corner. Something doesn’t add up. Or maybe it does, it seems like the mall stores, Tower included, are dying off one by one because they relied on people buying major label fodder at inflated prices. The smaller indie stores have a broader customer base, servicing lots of little musical niches, and sell cd’s for a whole lot less. Prices for new indie releases usually range from $10-12 , which seems pretty fare, averaging out to about a buck a song, or 3 beers at a bar.
So why do people still go to their friendly neighborhood record store? For me there are lots of reasons, flipping through the used bins is therapeutic and inevitably leads to finding stuff I wasn’t even looking for, or buying something because you like the cover art. You just can’t browse an internet store, so you are never tempted by some display that catches your eye, leading you down some unexpected musical path. An there is the unquantifiable contented feel I get walking home with a sack full of music that I can listen to on a Saturday afternoon. Free stuff is another reason, mainly the in-store performances both stores have. They’re always free and usually give you the opportunity to meet the band and get something signed. It’s an embarrassment of riches really, and all for the price of just showing up. Here’s what’s coming up around Seattle:
Peter, Bjorn & John – 20 September (that’s tonight!) @ 7:30pm Sonic Boom Fremont
Imperial Teen – September 21 @ 8:00pm Easy Street Queen Anne
Vampire Weekend – September 22 @ 4PM Sonic Boom Ballard
The Lucksmiths – September 24 @ 6:00pm Sonic Boom Ballard
The Cave Singers – September 25th @ 6:00pm Easy Street Queen Anne
PB&J are guest cashiering, so they may not actually play songs, but a least you can ask Bjorn about producing the Shout Out Louds and Taken by Trees records and you can find out from John why he wasn’t with the band the last time they played Neumo’s.