What’s The Matter To Independent Record Stores in UK? The Digitalization’s Strike Back?

As a matter a fact, I’m a true vinyl records addicted lunatics, and collected wax albums since 5 years ago, the overall quantity might not as much as alleged “Vinyl Junkies”, as well as people who walk to vinyl record stores at least once a week, but I still own roughly 800 records collections back in my basement.  In my country Taiwan, it is unlikely that the physical record chain stores could survive in this digitalization era, not to mention about record shops that contains vinyl records.Unfortunately, the reason they could sell records is that they could earn efficient  profit from other merchandises, such as T-shirt, or commercial DVDs. As a consequence, they would possibly promote the vinyl records even though the sales for vinyl records are not the major benefit from it. In a sense, the record shops  provide a warm atmosphere  and a decent sense of humanity, this would be the essential characteristics for the record shops.On the other hand, the digital music emerging in these  decades, the alteration enforce traditional record shops choose their business strategies to adjust in order to accomodate the changes, while others do not eager to change, left out of the business.

The Documentary “Last Shop Standing” states that the breathtaking impact of Independent Record shops due to the adjustment of the music industry, that is to say, the digitalization not only changes  the way people purchase music products, but also alter the relationships between the record labels and the consumers. Here is the sad news, based on the documentary, there were over 8000 Independent record stores in UK in 1980’s, unfortunately,  in 2009, the number declined to 269 record shops left. Suddenly people listen their music via Iphone,or, listen to online streaming music service, and the new generation, what we called the special term: “Digital Natives” are not experienced the period of vinyl records before, even CDs. All they could attain the information from music is have a access to the internet and download it immediately, and therefore, it will appear in their hi-tech devices.

What this film argues about the advantages of the record stores is, although the digitalization change the habit of buying commodity, it coud not be denied that the humanity of independent shops still remains. Whenever the customers walk into the shops, the enthusiasm of music is massive, and as a result, it could sometimes begin various of dialog between the customers and the clerks, even the owners from the shops. But most importantly, while the main significant issue is that while the music industry keep thriving for the forthcoming artists, how could people specifically find their truly favorite albums?  There is nothing but go to the shops, and have a  chit-chat with the clerks.

But in fact, the independent records currently create their own unique business, which is different than before. Although the profit margin is quite low, those independent record shops start to sell other creative merchandises, for instance, T-shirt for the Band or musicians, musical equipments, as well as musical gears and relative toys. Moreover, the record shops begin to sell the live tickets from the pub or outdoor gigs, they even provide their local bands or musicians to performance in the shops. The digitalization is the massive attack for music industry, but for the record shops, they begin to revival their golden era in the future vision, and most importantly, they would offer a brand new experiences for either old generations or new ones.

Tom Waits:

“Folks who work here are professors. Don’t replace all the knowers with guessors keep’em open they’re the ears of the town”


2 thoughts on “What’s The Matter To Independent Record Stores in UK? The Digitalization’s Strike Back?

  1. Hi Yella!
    Great Blog! I grew up loving Vinyl and am sad I don’t have a player here.

    Last week I went to a film festival and met documentary filmmaker Jeanie Finlay who made brilliant doc called “Sound it out”. It’s the same topic as “The Last Shop Standing”. I saw clips and it looked fantastic!

    You can find it here: http://www.sounditoutdoc.com/
    I really think it’s worth the rent/purchase.

    Hope it helps!
    Keep up the good work!

    • Dear Angelika:
      I’m so fortunate that I have a classmate like you could introduce me some fresh independent films and documentaries, btw, I will definitely have a look and type it out my reflections afterwards, stay tunes and again I am really appreciated that you provide this information to me!


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