I Need That Record! (The Death or Possible Survival of the Independent Record Store)
In 2002, Bad Religion released an album called The Process of Belief, which included these lyrics: “Hey, you, is this something worth aspiring to? And can it be found in a record store? Well, it’s not there anymore…”. I couldn’t help but think of this song as I started watching one of the best documentaries I’ve watched in a long time (with the notable exception of The Gits, which was also fucking fantastic). Ladies and gentlemen, I NEED THAT RECORD!
For many years now, people have been denouncing the music industry as dead, or at the very least, dying. While it’s true that the Billboard charts have shown massive declines in sales over the last decade, and large retailers are disappearing left and right, I would argue that the music industry is not dying, but experiencing re-birth. This documentary just might be one of the pieces of evidence I would use if I had to debate this.
This film, written, directed and edited by Brendan Toller, takes a look at the music industry in North America, while mainly focusing on the independent record store, a dying breed of retailers. Over 3000 independent record retailers disappeared in the U.S. over the past decade, but why? Toller set out on a mission with this film, talking to many record store owners, label execs, band members and record collectors, and it makes for a hell of a documentary.
In my short time on this earth, I have had the chance to visit and fall in love with a decent amount of record stores, mostly in the region I grew up in: Ottawa. Unfortunately, I have witnessed the downfall of most of these stores that I adored. Record Runner, Sounds Unlikely, CD Exchange (I feel like this one counts less than others, but it counts nonetheless!), and most recently End Hits have all been wiped from the map. Vertigo Records still stands, Legend is still there, The Record Centre is still there, and most recently, The Record Shaap was just born. Who the hell opens up a record store in this day and age, you ask? People like Matty McGovern, owner of The Record Shaap. People like Malcolm, from Trash American Style, who don’t give up.
As a music lover, I can’t help but be supportive of record stores. There’s nothing better than the feeling of discovering some new band, some mysterious act, through record store browsing. Christians go to church on Sunday and connect with higher powers. I go to record stores and it makes me complete. I know I’m not the only person who feels this way when I walk into a record store, because I see others all around me. There are so many of us that only want to discover new bands and listen to new things all the time, and who are willing to go to shops to do this. And that’s why record stores won’t die. Many have fallen, many more will fall, but they will never be wiped out. Our love of music is too strong. The need for music is too big.
Support your local record stores, support your local artists. When you’re travelling, support other local stores. Do yourself a favor and go ask the clerk for the best local cd he has, and buy it without question. You just might fall in love.
Oh, and go watch I Need That Record, now!