The sad state of record stores now
Growing up, I remember that going to a record store was always on my to-do-list each time I was in any mall. It was something that I had to do regardless if there were any brand new releases or not. Being in the record store taking my time browsing through the CDs and sometimes discovering a CD I did not know was there added to the excitement of visiting a record store. There was an almost unexplainable feeling of warmth and comfort each time because I knew I was in a place where I belonged and was with other people who shared a similar passion.
Nowadays, I still do the same thing each time I head out except that there are so few record stores still open. Somehow a mall feels incomplete without a record store. It just does not feel right for me.
To this day, I still purchase CDs and the only difference between now and say, 11 or 12 years ago, is that the options to choose from the selections offered have dwindled significantly because very few people bother to take the time and make an effort to visit a record store. Understandably so. After all, songs and albums can be purchased online and there are streaming services, too. Everyone wants things in an instant. Quick, fast, and not a second longer. The virtue of patience has flown out the window with the onset of technology taking over our lives now.
Indeed, a lot has changed for the music industry. But change does not necessarily mean things are always better. On the downside, when you have all these songs digitally remastered and hundreds, if not thousands of songs are compressed into a single file, the effect of this is that each song sounds “thin” making the overall sound quality subpar. That is why often times when you compare a song that you have purchased online and have saved on your laptop or smartphone to the ones you have in your CDs before they were digitally transferred, the differences are noticeable. This proves that the songs stored in physical hard copies such as CDs are far more superior and provide a better listening experience.
Therefore, good luck now in finding a new album released in that format (meaning in CD form) as most are only digitally released and made available online only.
Truly, I feel fortunate that I grew up in a time when purchasing CDs and building up your own collection of your favorite artists and bands were something I got to do and experience. Why so? There is a special feeling attained when you have a physical hard copy of a full-length album. Besides listening to it, being able to open the booklet that comes with the CD you purchase and getting to read the lyrics to songs and looking at photos of the artists or bands featured add extra value to owning the CD.
In the CD booklet, you can really see with your own two eyes the care and thought that have been put into making the album. And that for the record label, the customer meant something and he was not just another number in a spreadsheet. There was a “personalized” feeling going through the CD booklet other than listening to the CD, of course.
Yes, it is good to embrace change but for me, some old habits are not worth letting go of, such as purchasing CDs. It is because it reminds me of a different time, a time wherein music truly connected with the listener. So until there is a record store open, I will be there.
It is a preservation of the past before it becomes totally forgotten. To the very young, the current generation right now, I encourage you guys to buy a CD of your favorite artist or band in the few record stores that are still open if you have not done that yet. I would like that you can somehow experience even a little bit the joy and know the value of owning a physical hard copy of your favorite album.
It is worth it.