I can remember a time sifting through a stack of vinyl in a local music store while being able to look outside and watch the cars go by. Some unknown indie rock song would play on the speaker system, hand picked by the owner of the store. The feeling of holding a new artist’s CD in my hands or looking through an assortment of tapes in their plastic packages, you know, “they were white colored hard plastic that the front desk had to open.” Asking the girl at the front of the store if they had a certain artist, and being led to a bin to dig for that album, usually on tape. These were the 90’s, a time where the independent record store was floating happily above water, and all the while the major labels were booming. There was balance, there was a want for a physical medium. The feeling of ownership was burning in your heart when you entered through the door and heard the bell ringing above your head. A time in the States that I remember well…
The small record store was truly independent. Over time this commodity we all took for granted started to fade by the change of the millennium. The Digital age: where a store no longer meant a place where you walked in and spoke to a warm human but where large corporations fed you what they wanted you to buy instead of a select hand-picked assortment of punk albums or local indie bands. Tower Records and other traditional record stores began to fade and the major retailers became the place to buy your favorite music. But the music store, was it dead yet? The Internet is now being noticed more by non-tech savvy music lovers, than just your average nerdy stereotype. Or kids who use to play MUD on their college terminals, instead of studying for their mid-terms. Napster appears three years later and changes all the rules, and a demand for quick download-able ‘free’ media was born.
Over time companies started to appear, websites would join in this moving trend and apple iTunes became the leader in the digital market. The rule of the album was no longer valid, as now a song equals a dollar. Then something happens, a company called Bandcamp joins the world of digital music by 2007 and brings forth that old warm feeling of the record store. You are now able to create your own storefront digitally, set your prices and make a profit, with 0 overhead. “Something of a dream to most in the 90s who might have needed a second mortgage to afford a small store to sell indie music.” DIY musicians flooded the online indie scene by the first decade of the 2000s. Then one by one other digital websites appear and thus begins the streaming war. But today people still love that feeling of ownership, and that warm crackling sound of your favourite vinyl album. Even tapes never lost their mystery to the new listener.
By 2012 and onward the craze to ‘buy’ music starts up again. What use to feel like a dying thing is now a demand to own ‘something.’ Record Store Day opens in 2015 and the entire world is faced with a demand for vinyl production but years after this need ended. While all this was happening, WEATNU appears and starts to come to the surface to join the indie scene. Ignored and greatly talented electronic artists become selected like soldiers in an army to join the ranks with the best musicians in the world. Then their music is presented directly into the light for a niche world to meet a niche musician and history is made. The indie scene comes in different forms and everyone is talking DIY. The artist and fan meet on social media and finally once again, thanks to the Internet and the love of music, the record store returns. And it might not be a place where you can go and pick up the band you love or ask to have your white tape seal removed. But since the online record store is here, we can have that warm feeling again when we buy music from a new indie artist. But something big is happening around the world, people once again want to own a part of the artist, and thats a good thing.
Almark – #WEATNU Digital Magazine