tower 385 Back When I Was A Kid, People Used To Go To Stores And Buy Music[pullquote quote=”Let me know where you like to buy music. Maybe you’ll turn another in the XRT family on to your favorite spot.”]The news for the music industry continues to be bleak. I don’t know if you noticed, but the economy in general has not been so great, and the music biz continues to slide. Not only a bad economy, but the fact that people are still “sharing” music files on line, and good luck actually finding stores that sell music you’d want to buy. I still mourn the passing of Rose Records and Tower Records.

Not only miss the excellent selection of all kinds of music, but also the excellent staff of music lovers who turned me on to excellent music, and provided hours of great conversation. Saturday afternoons I still drive by Clark and Belden and feel a loss. And you couldn’t beat a few hours at Wax Trax Records chatting with Jim and Danny about the newest of new wave. But now music shopping is point and click. And that’s not doing so great either.

Billboard Magazine reports that U.S. album sales for 2010 fell 12.8% to 326.2 million units from 373.9 million units in 2009. The sales of CDs fell by nearly 20% for the fourth year in a row.

As far as digital sales go, growth in individual track sales was slow. Barely 1% increase. Sales were 1.17 billion units compared to 1.16 billion in 2009. Digital album downloads fared better with 13% growth. If it wasn’t for Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas and Eminem, things would be even worse.

Things will never go back to what they were, but the fact that fewer brick and mortar stores are selling music, and even those that do, did you notice they give even less floor space than before? And the selection has become a joke. I recently ran out to grab a nice, mainstream classical CD as a hostess gift for a dinner party, and I couldn’t even find music to brunch by. Pathetic. So maybe take that money you got in exchange for those Christmas presents that horrified you, and visit your local indy record store and buy some stuff. And ask the clerk for a recommendation. And tell them you love ’em. We can’t afford to lose what we have left. They are an essential part of our music community. Bless ’em.

Let me know where you like to buy music and why. Maybe you’ll turn another in the XRT family on to your favorite spot. And what are your music buying habits these days? How much do you buy online? How is it compared to a few years ago? Do you take advantage of the XRT free downloads? Let’s share information.

And if you’re curious about what XRT listeners liked last year, check into the VIP Lounge to see how you can attend the 2010 XRT Listener Poll Gala. Big fun.

Read More From Terri Hemmert

Comments (16)
  1. Brad says:

    It is indeed a shame that record stores are gone. I used to love the three-story Rose Records on Wabash. But what’s also a shame is the exploitative way in which label executives ran the business, which is part of the reason behind the mass exodus into file sharing. CDs, for example, are cheaper to manufacture than LPs, but they cost at least 40 percent more. Not only that, but the labels got a free windfall from everyone replacing their vinyl with CDs. If label executives had treated their customer base with respect and if they had embraced downloading and YouTube instead of fighting tooth and nail against them, then maybe they wouldn’t be in such dire circumstances today. To blame the industry’s decline solely on file sharing is unfair.

  2. Popservations says:

    While I’m about a generation younger than you, Terri, which still doesn’t make me terribly young, I too continue to mourn the loss of Tower Records. I used to stop by every Tuesday — first at the location on Wabash when I commuted downtown from Indiana, and then made the one up at Clark/Belden my weekly stop once I moved to the city. The mere mention of Tower conjures up all these feelings of discovery, excitement, and of course, immeasurable loss.

    Here’s a little something I wrote on the same topic back in March 2009. Nearly two years later, I still haven’t quite found a way to fill the hole in my heart — though I’ve since moved to San Francisco and just re-discovered Amoeba Records today.

  3. Marc Tobalski says:

    I grew up goIng to Hegwish Records. I live in Cincinnati now and am blessed to live near Shake It Records. It’s one of the best stores in the country.

  4. Joe Karpierz says:

    I also have fond memories of Rose Records as well as Rolling Stone Records. When I do go into a brick and mortar store now to buy music it’s Kiss the Sky in Geneva, Illinois, which is where I live. Sadly, I don’t buy much music these days, for various reasons, so I don’t frequent the store that often. And when I do go there, it doesn’t seem to be all that busy, but then again I’m not in there enough to say what its normal traffic is like.

  5. maggie says:

    Grew up listening to you, Terri, and you’re probably responsible for the early development of my fabulous taste in music. Here we are mourning the recently announced closing of Vinyl Fever music store after 39 years of service to the Tampa Bay area.
    However we are blessed with WMNF, a 70,000 watt nonprofit community radio station where the listeners request from volunteer programmers and no one tells them what to play.
    The station also brings about 50 live concerts from around the corner and around the world each year. WMNF introduces music-hungry listeners to new and upcoming and old favorite artists much the same way you did for me, only also online at Thanks!

  6. Mike Buziecki says:

    I used to wait in line outside of Rose Records for hours, waiting to buy my concert tickets. Good Times!

  7. Brian says:

    Still can go where I do (with existing vinyl) like Vintage Vinyl on Davis in Evanston, 2nd Hand Tunes on Dempster in Evanston, and a few locations of Reckless Records in the City!! Vinyl Lives!!!!

  8. John says:

    It is a sad state of affairs trying to find music to buy. I guess I am kind of old school but I miss looking at an album where you
    could see the art and read along to the lyrics, credits or whatever as you listened to it blast out of your stereo in your room for the first time. I DO NOT have an ipod or do mp3s
    to me it sounds compressed like it is coming out of a tin can.
    My kids only know downloads and itunes and all and have never experienced buying albums, wandering a record store for hours
    on end…the place that is still around that I enjoy going to is Rolling Stone in Chicago…thanks Terri for your insight to a
    dismal future for music

    1. Jim says:

      Still enjoy going to Rolling Stones Records on the northwest side, and I was a big fan of See Hear Records & Tapes in Old Town back in the day.

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