Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Friday, February 25, 2011
The End of the Music Store
Winnipeg never really had the competitive next door music stores like Toronto did.
The retreat of the music store happened even before the advent of downloading. I worked at A&A Records at Madison Square during school in 1988. By 1993, the national chain collapsed. At the time, the company's demise could hardly be blamed on the Internet, Walmart (which entered Canada in 1994) or any of the factors facing today's music stores.
It is with sadness that CD Plus has announced that they are closing their last Manitoba stores. The company has existed in one form or another since 1962 in Winnipeg and was headquartered here.
Aside from the mall-based HMV stores and some specialized regional music stores, the days of the music chain are gone. The acceleration to online downloading has spelled the demise of the brick and mortar stores.
I can remember for a time from the very late 1980s into the 1990s when HMV and Musiplex on Portage along with A&B Music created for a time the sense of excitement that Toronto had with Sam's and A&A Records.
The music industry has been under siege for a long while now. In some cases, it is hard to have sympathy since people felt thoroughly gouged when CDs came out and they industry charged over $20 for those looking to update their library. It is easy to see why many figured the industry could go to hell when the Internet made it possible to download for free.
However, everywhere the industry and way of doing things gets more complicated. The Internet Service Providers are looking to charge heavily for those who download. Apple Computer with their Apps store is making subscription services for music even more expensive.
One wonders if the Internet will make it worthwhile to go a store again. However, if all access points to the Internet are going to be cash cows for cable and telephone companies, the stores might not be able to use the technology to allow for people to download in stores without paying just as much. At some point, as some experts have indicated, there may be a case for taking certain gatekeepers to various world-wide monopolies commissions.
For decades, the music store has been a gathering place for people, especially the young. The mall might be a lot of things but if bookstores and music places continue to disappear even there, many will stop going. We have already seen for the downtown that a lot of the compelling reasons for going such as music stores and bookstores have slowly disappeared (although some used book stores have helped ensure that culture hasn't completely disappeared).
So, here is a tip of the hat to Sam's, the Record Baron, A&A Records, CD Plus, Mother's and all the others that have fallen.