I grew up in the Durham/ Chapel Hill area (Carolina Friends School ’89) and Schoolkids Records literally changed my life. I’ve spent most of my adult years working in alternative music, and I married a rock critic, mostly because of the records I bought (and yes, the abuse I took) shopping at the Franklin Street store. Stores like Schoolkids were about the culture and history of music, not just the product, and that’s why they had such a big impact on a generation of kids. I find its closing to be tragic; it should cause local arts journalists to consider how the demise of the music industry is deeply affecting the local area.
Instead, Andrew Richey asks the question, “Did Schoolkids close because it refused to adapt?” (April 2). Is he kidding? Although Richey mentions a few high-profile record-store closings, he fails to describe the tectonic shift we are experiencing because of the Internet.
Last year was the eighth consecutive year of sales declines in albums. In 2000, 785 million albums were sold in the U.S. By 2006, it was only 588 million, including downloads, according to Rolling Stone. The industry is absolutely collapsing. More than 2,700 record stores have closed since 2003. Do you think they all failed to adapt? Or is it possible that the scale of the collapse is much larger than the writer is willing to acknowledge?
Richey did not adequately support his dubious thesis that “some industry experts argue that independent record stores could survive and even flourish.” The numbers are clear: Independent record stores cannot thrive or flourish when album sales are tanking. No one is making money selling records now. Big-box retailers have always sold mainstream music at a loss to attract electronics buyers. Chain bookstores and Wal-Marts have never stocked independent music. Yet, together they have marginalized independent stores.
When downloading singles and file-sharing made paying for albums a thing of the past, indie stores were dealt a death blow. I can’t believe that the Chapel Hill area can’t support Schoolkids Records any more.
This hits home for me, and I hope that people will look at what has happened to music, as well as magazines and books, and realize that if they value communities built around arts and culture, they have to support the places where those communities exist.
Tristin Laughter Aaron