Tower Records -- the continuing collapse

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So how's everyone doing with any further sales? Scoring a lot of the Ethiopiques discs for cheap was nice, I have to say.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 03:03 (sixteen years ago) link

I was thinking about those (the Ethiopiques) today. I think I forgot to look for them. I'm still waiting for stuff to drop to 50%. The Tower on Broad Street in Philadelphia seems to be dying a remarkably slow death.

Kali Pachanguero (RSLaRue), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 03:24 (sixteen years ago) link

found a cd of rorem songs that i'd tried to order from amazon three years ago (they ended up cancelling the order because they couldn't get the product)... there were like 10 copies of it! crazy! i need to go back sometime soon, though cause the night i was there i couldn't remember any of the cds i was supposed to buy.

tehresa (tehresa), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 04:04 (sixteen years ago) link

If anyone wants to pick up a bunch of CDs on the Six Degrees label (which covers a lot of Brazilian electronic stuff, but "world music" (gag gag at the term, yes, I know) in general), I would say stop by Tower in Philadelphia in about two weeks, when there should still be a lot of them left, but at pretty good prices. They seem to have cases of that stuff.

Kali Pachanguero (RSLaRue), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 04:11 (sixteen years ago) link

store in lower queen anne in seattle:
all cds 40%
all rap cds 70%
today only take an additional 20% off all rock/pop.

I wish I had more money.

and yeah, that tower has tons of six degrees stuff too. i'm waiting to get bebel gilberto for xtra cheap.

Lingbert (Lingbert), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 04:41 (sixteen years ago) link

my friend's company bought all of tower's product and is liquidating it. they're supposed to make 10 mil

jaxon (jaxon), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 05:25 (sixteen years ago) link

went a couple weeks ago, still 40%(of $18.99+) for the most part but I did score Outkast's Idlewild for $7.00. Also got a Jim Reeves two album import. The dance selection is wack, the country selection is wack, those are my recent obsessions so I couldn't muster much energy to sift through the rest with the prices still so high.

tremendoid (tremendoid), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 05:28 (sixteen years ago) link

i got the rhino soul box

Commander JimmyMod of TEAM COURAGE (JimmyMod), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 05:45 (sixteen years ago) link

does that mean all of the bay area tower's are empty?

akm (akmonday), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 06:23 (sixteen years ago) link

No online sales then?

M Grout (Mark Grout), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 09:48 (sixteen years ago) link

In Battersea there is a pizza takeaway shop named Tower Of Pizza and they have designed the sign with exactly the same colour scheme and lettering font as Tower Records of old.

It is rather depressing.

I still instinctively think of the Virgin Megastore at Piccadilly Circus as Tower Records.

Even though I seldom purchase items from there.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 13:26 (sixteen years ago) link

I wonder in there, wonder why the magazine selection isn't as radical as it used to be, then remember it's not Tower anymore.

M Grout (Mark Grout), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 13:33 (sixteen years ago) link

Ok, I think it's time for me to make a trip to the Broadway store.

Hurting (A-Ron Hubbard), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 14:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Me wonders is this worth a road trip to Boston?

Nu-Edward III (edward iii), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 14:19 (sixteen years ago) link

probably not at this point; unless you feel like rounding out your collection with easy finds

Commander JimmyMod of TEAM COURAGE (JimmyMod), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 15:21 (sixteen years ago) link

i spent $88.88 at tower today. it was 40%+20% more for rock/pop.

GAWD PVNCH (yournullfame), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 19:50 (sixteen years ago) link

Whadja get?

Nu-Edward III (edward iii), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 20:00 (sixteen years ago) link

so does that mean that rock/pop is at 40% or 48% original price?

if the rap is 70% off right now will dance be 70% off next week? they are going to take a beating on the dance imports!

vahid (vahid), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 20:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Vahid -- it means rock/pop is now 60% off total.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 20:13 (sixteen years ago) link

actually, no, ned. at least in seattle, it's 40% off plus an additional 20% after the initial 40% is taken off, which works out to 48% off the original price. maybe your tower is different though?

Lingbert (Lingbert), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 20:39 (sixteen years ago) link

Or maybe Ned's SAT scores were V790 M200?

Nu-Edward III (edward iii), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 20:46 (sixteen years ago) link

maybe your tower is different though?

Must be! (I say this based on other specials they've been running.) But there's an easy way to check -- I'll swing by tonight and see.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 28 November 2006 23:17 (sixteen years ago) link

No online sales then? was sold separately in the bankruptcy auction and is still running (mostly) normally, so there won't be any liquidation clearances there. You'll get normal holiday sales, though.

(Full disclosure: I still work for

Baron Von Jigglesworth (Baron Von Jigglesworth), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 00:17 (sixteen years ago) link

They're selling MIDI keyboards for cheap in Dublin. Not the music though. I'd say that the store is just a franchise rather than owned outright by Tower so no great hopes for cheap CDs or similar in future :(

kv_nol (kv_nol), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 00:30 (sixteen years ago) link

Okay, so indeed 20% off the 40% off, not 60% total. This is not to say that some deals weren't found.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 03:47 (sixteen years ago) link

The Pasadena store was doing the full 60% off. The stock didn't look much different than when I was there Friday, so they don't seem to be selling a whole lot. Didn't have time to browse but I got Kevin Ayers' Island years disks (3 LPs on 2 CDs) for $10.39 (tagged $25.99 - import).

They had some ComSat Angels import re-issues that were similarly priced but for single disks, so I didn't succumb. How is their BBC sessions disk?

Nick Nelson (nickn), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 06:06 (sixteen years ago) link

I grabbed a bunch today.
Dexter Gordon, One Flight Up
Gil Evans, Out of the Cool
The Everly Brothers Sing Great Country Hits
Hot Chocolate, Every 1's a Winner/Very Best Of
Double Exposure, My Love is Free/Best Of
Salt-n-Pepa, Hot, Cool & Vicious
Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Fresh Fruit and Wise Guy

70 bucks or so; pretty happy.

Factory Sample Not For Sale (Factory Sample Not For Sale), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 07:01 (sixteen years ago) link

I bought 29-30 rap cds which I'm not going to take the liberty of listing for about 160 at the Seattle Tower today.

Rodney J. Greene (Rodney J. Greene), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 10:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Modal Fugue (Modal Fugue), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 10:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh crap, I just realized I've been posting my full name and unfuckedwith email. Oh well.

x-post: Ya damn right!

Rodney (Rodney J. Greene), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 10:15 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm just playing Rodney. If I was near a Tower I'd be filling my boots too.

Modal Fugue (Modal Fugue), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 10:17 (sixteen years ago) link

Ya damn right!

That's for sure.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 13:07 (sixteen years ago) link


Rodney (Rodney J. Greene), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 20:15 (sixteen years ago) link

One mo' gain.

Rodney (Rodney J. Greene), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 20:15 (sixteen years ago) link


Rodney (Rodney J. Greene), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 20:17 (sixteen years ago) link

Tripod will probably block this, but here goes:

Nu-Edward III (edward iii), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 20:33 (sixteen years ago) link

Thank you, for helping me express my scavengerness.

Rodney (Rodney J. Greene), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 20:42 (sixteen years ago) link

And now it's blocked.

Rodney (Rodney J. Greene), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 20:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Shoulda gone with this one anyway:

Nu-Edward III (edward iii), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 20:54 (sixteen years ago) link

I somehow missed that one. I'm not sure how. I think I must have been too enraptured by the snarl to keep looking.

Rodney (Rodney J. Greene), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 20:58 (sixteen years ago) link

In the meantime, any new sales changes today?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 21:04 (sixteen years ago) link

I went to the Tower in NYC on Broadway yesterday and found it looking worse than a K-Mart after a cabbage patch kid black-Friday tornado. I actually saw a girl get crushed in the rotating doors by someone who, I suppose, was running to take advantage of the savings.

and I came away with nothing, it was too distracting. I'm going back over the weekend I think.

Cap'n Guthrie (retardo1), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 21:15 (sixteen years ago) link

When I went in yesterday I noticed that my Tower had oddly restocked since the last time I had been in there...nothing new (in terms of release date), but lots of things that weren't on the shelves the time I had been there before.

I made away with:

Comus - Song to Comus (import with everything the band ever recorded on two CDs - only worked out to be $13, which is a steal)
Flux of Pink Indians - Strive to Survive/Neu Smell
Daughters - Hell Songs
Agent Orange - Living in Darkness
Trae - Restless
JFA - We Know You Suck
Black Halos - Alive Without Control
Black Lips - Let it Bloom
Hellacopters - Payin' the Dues
Dwarves - The Dwarves are Young and Good Looking
The Frogs - Bananimals

Best stack I've come away with in months.

Anyone know what the chances of the sale going to 50 or 60% are?

The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks (50 Bourbon St), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 22:07 (sixteen years ago) link

my Tower had oddly restocked since the last time I had been in there

I've noticed a bit of that too, my guess is things were just coming out of storage or something...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 22:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Anyone know what the chances of the sale going to 50 or 60% are?

Sounds like it's happened at individual stores already, based on the comment about the Pasadena Tower -- probably they're just judging how quickly stuff moves.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 22:11 (sixteen years ago) link

If you see new stock in your stores, it came from either the dregs of the warehouse or other already-closed stores.

Baron Von Jigglesworth (Baron Von Jigglesworth), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 23:25 (sixteen years ago) link

I admit I wouldn't think of the Kirsty MacColl box set as the dregs, but noted, noted...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 23:26 (sixteen years ago) link

No effect still in Dublin place. Bought the keyboard though so yay me!

kv_nol (kv_nol), Wednesday, 29 November 2006 23:47 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm pretty sure it's only American stores.

Rodney Von Bushwickin The Barbarian Mother-Funky Stay High Dollar Billster (Rodn, Wednesday, 29 November 2006 23:59 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, all international stores are franchises and have no ties to Tower Records in the US outside of the brand license. The bankruptcy and liquidation should not affect them at all.

Baron Von Jigglesworth (Baron Von Jigglesworth), Thursday, 30 November 2006 00:17 (sixteen years ago) link

Phil - check your email.

PFS (pfs), Wednesday, 20 December 2006 19:05 (sixteen years ago) link

Haha, poor Phil. "Uh, honey, I've got an extra $300 worth of requests here..."

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 20 December 2006 19:10 (sixteen years ago) link

Just left the Pasadena store, and it was within 10 minutes of closing. Spent another $50+.

nickn (nickn), Wednesday, 20 December 2006 22:05 (sixteen years ago) link

Has anyone been to Lower Queen Anne in the past couple of days? I called twice this morning, but no answer. The weather's so crappy I hesitate to chance taking the bus down.

A Radio Picture (Factory Sample Not For Sale), Wednesday, 20 December 2006 23:21 (sixteen years ago) link

I wonder if Serena-Maneesh sold more albums in the last two weeks than they had prior.

Michael (Oakland Mike), Wednesday, 20 December 2006 23:51 (sixteen years ago) link

aw nick I just swung by the Pasadena store after work and they were shut down already, with big dramatic white bars coming down from the ceiling(maybe they were always there, I dunno). What was left?

tremendoid (tremendoid), Thursday, 21 December 2006 02:18 (sixteen years ago) link

Total spent: $204.01, mostly on metalcore, country, a few jam bands, and DVDs. The only things I might wind up actually keeping are a Table of the Elements 2CD sampler and a Marduk live DVD.

Phil Freeman (unperson), Thursday, 21 December 2006 02:34 (sixteen years ago) link

Whitehouse - Buchenwald

uh, wow.

GAWD PVNCH (yournullfame), Thursday, 21 December 2006 03:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Re: Pasadena store:
Classical was completely gone, I assume some other retailer swept it all up when they opened today. (Same story with the porn DVDs, which I checked just out of curiosity!) DVDs extremely decimated, maybe 60-80 total, music DVDs similar but I found a Live at Harrah's with the Go Gos, Fleshtones, Waitresses, Lene Lovich, Pylon and more for $1.50. They also had a Penetration DVD but I noticed it was PAL and decided it'd be too much trouble to play.

Jazz very picked over but I got Vijay Iyer - Raw Materials and the Subjazz Proxy disk (there were still at least 20 copies of this one).

Dance still had a couple hundred, and I got the Optimo Psyche Out, Karsh Kale, and a Zuco 103. They had one of the Lindstrom & Prins Thomas disks that I bought at 80% off, so I put it in front and it was gone by the time I left. Forgot to check for Ellen Allien, who had half a dozen there Monday. Found a Dizzee Rascal "Off 2 Work" in the singles, and in the main Rock/Pop got the Sadies, Walkmen, Vacation, John Cooper Clarke, Peter Perret EP, Mice Parade EP, Bailter Space, John Greaves, and finally Malcolm Mooney from 1998 with "Father Cannot Yell" on it. Never knew he did anything after Can, but it's worth $1.70 to check out. Also noticed one last Matt Friedberger, which I had bought at 60% off last week.

nickn (nickn), Thursday, 21 December 2006 03:10 (sixteen years ago) link

holy shit ned!!

my favorite/strangest find was the alan braxe and fred falke cd single for "rubicon" with sticker for $2.

josh (josh.), Thursday, 21 December 2006 03:10 (sixteen years ago) link

I love the odd finds like that...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 21 December 2006 03:41 (sixteen years ago) link

Does anyone know if the downtown Chicago Tower is still operating? I'm going to be there on Friday for a while and wanted to know if it's worth checking out.

joygoat (joygoat), Thursday, 21 December 2006 04:58 (sixteen years ago) link

I believe Chicago's Tower closed its doors for good tonight (Wed 20th). Downtown store was decimated two weeks ago. I made my last trip to the one on Clark and got these:

Absentee - Schmotime
Lewis Taylor
Tangiers - Never Bring You Pleasure
Ladyfuzz - Kerfuffle
The Automatic - Not Accepted Anywhere

The Associates - Fourth Drawer Down
My Computer - No CV
Girls Aloud - Chemistry
The Passage - For All and None
Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed!
Syd Matters

Bye bye Tower.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Thursday, 21 December 2006 07:22 (sixteen years ago) link

tonight at 80% off in sherman oaks:

boris - pink
mclusky - the only difference between you and me is i'm on fire
loren mazzacane connors - sails

the rest over the past couple weeks, most 70% off, some 80%:

isolee - 'western store' and 'wearemonster'
luciano - 'sci fi hi fi'
erase errata - 'night life'
meat purveyors - 'someday soon things will be much worse!'
a pair of studio one comps
a certain ratio - 'i'd like to see you again'
wolf parade - 'apologies to the queen mary'
larry young - into somethin'
the knife - silent shout (2 copies)
kylie minogue - impossible pricess (2 disc import)
luomo - the present lover
esg - a south bronx story
wolf eyes - human animal
comets on fire - avatar
carla bozulich - evangelista
gwen mccrae (a 2 albums on one CD import)
arizona amp and alternator - s/t
nao wave: brazil post punk 1982-1988 (2 copies)
the free design - kites are fun & one by one
islands - return to the sea
neko case - the tigers have spoken
black heart procession - the spell
moodymann - black mahogani
detroit cobras - baby
annie - anniemal
black strobe - the other side: paris
mountain goats - we shall all be healed
architecture in helsinki - in case we die
excepter - sunbomber
echo and the bunnymen - songs to learn and sing
jolie holland - springtime can kill you
the hold steady - boys and girls in america
booka shade - 'movements' and 'memento'
tim hecker - 'mirage'
saint etienne - 'songs for mario's cafe'
fiery furnaces - 'bitter tea'
wayne shorter - 'speak no evil'
andrew hill - 'pax'
nina nastasia - 'the blackened air'
burial - s/t
uusitalo - 'tulenkantaja'
colder - 'heat'
the dresden dolls - 'yes, virginia'
the handsome family - 'milk and scissors'

bohren un der club of gear (bohren un der club of gear), Thursday, 21 December 2006 07:43 (sixteen years ago) link

You listmakers are the scary.

Is Friday the last for West 66th NYC store as well as West 4th? I'm thinking something salvageable might be uptown.

Dr M (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 21 December 2006 15:51 (sixteen years ago) link

We hit the Tower in Henderson NV before we left on Monday and shipped everything home. The box should show up today, maybe tomorrow, so we can see what we grabbed in our spending frenzy. There was a mom in there screaming at her brood "Not everything is $1!!! Not everything is $1!!!". Mr. Jaq found a bunch of Go-Betweens, I grabbed some Brazilian stuff and Ethiopiques 18, Louden Wainwright's 1st album, Mission of Burma Obliterati, and many odd singles (Cornershop, Fat Boy Slim, Laptop User Manual?) as well as a bunch of foreign films ($5!!), the Cole Porter tribute DVD Red, Hot, and Blue, and a Mabel Mercer bio.

jaq (jaq), Thursday, 21 December 2006 16:45 (sixteen years ago) link

What about Buchenwald?

... (50 Bourbon St), Thursday, 21 December 2006 16:49 (sixteen years ago) link

Nice job there, Jaq! And you got to go to Lotus of Siam as well.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 21 December 2006 16:58 (sixteen years ago) link

Lotus of Siam - TWICE!! We hurried out of Tower around 1:30 and got to Lotus for lunch by 2 (after getting only minorly lost). It was a good day.

jaq (jaq), Thursday, 21 December 2006 17:07 (sixteen years ago) link

You didn't have to use your motherfuckin' AK?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 21 December 2006 17:30 (sixteen years ago) link

Not once!

jaq (jaq), Thursday, 21 December 2006 18:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Lower Queen Anne at 90% off today. Weirdly, other than a few random King Britt cds in the wrong places, ALL of the Six Degrees stuff was gone.

I got:

ICP Orchestra - Oh, My Dog
Vitalic - OK Cowboy
The Juan Maclean - Give Me Every Little Thing
Erase Errata - At Crystal Palace
Justus Kohncke - Was Ist Musik
Nervous Cop - s/t
Luomo - The Present Lover
Susumu Yokota - Cat, Mouse And Me
Systems Officer - Systems Officer
Lisa Papineau - Night Moves
Henry Flynt - Raga Electric
Rosalia De Souza - Garota Moderna

Lingbert (Lingbert), Friday, 22 December 2006 05:23 (sixteen years ago) link

So this was it, pretty much? All stores now closed?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 23 December 2006 06:28 (sixteen years ago) link

ICP Orchestra - Oh, My Dog

Holy fucking shit, they got an orchestra?

naus (naus), Saturday, 23 December 2006 06:32 (sixteen years ago) link

They have that power.

I had a pretty nice coda to all this today when I hit the Amoeba in SF and scrounged through their bargain bins after selling back some stuff:

Currituck Co. -- Ghost Man on First
Tsunami -- Deep End
Craig Wedren -- Lapland
Azita -- Life on the Fly
rhBand -- Third Order Parasitism
A-Frames -- Black Forest
Michael J. Sheehy -- No Longer My Concern
UiLad -- Fires
Clearlake -- Cedars
Books on Tape -- The Business End
The Dead Texan -- s/t
Frausdots -- Couture, Couture, Couture
The Delta Waves -- Dream in Real Time
Urinals -- What is Real and What is Not
Magnapop -- Hot Boxing
Jale -- Dreamcake
Bright -- s/t

Plus two Tower Recordings spinoffs:
P.G. Six -- Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites
Samara Lubelski -- Spectacular of Passages

...all for $13. So it felt like a bit of the Tower luck was carrying over. ;-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 23 December 2006 06:36 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh and Alexander Kowalski's Response too. Yay.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 23 December 2006 06:41 (sixteen years ago) link

ICP Orchestra - Oh, My Dog

Holy fucking shit, they got an orchestra?

indeed. it's truly the cream of the juggalo crop.

Lingbert (Lingbert), Saturday, 23 December 2006 07:09 (sixteen years ago) link

You got 20 CDs at Amoeba for $13?

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Saturday, 23 December 2006 08:09 (sixteen years ago) link

$1 clearance bin items are marvellous things, as is a bit of store credit and some patience.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 23 December 2006 14:28 (sixteen years ago) link

Posted on Fri, Dec. 22, 2006

Music dies at Tower on Broad St.
Digital era sounds death knell for some, not all, retailers.
By Dan DeLuca
Inquirer Music Critic

From the corner of Broad and Chestnut, the future of the record store looks bleak.

Amid the holiday rush, Tower Records' Center City store went out of business yesterday, two months after the once-revered chain was acquired for liquidation. In the final days the shelves were half-empty, the selections grim - obscure metal bands such as Rorschach Test and Backlash.

"It's sad, because I used to buy all my music here," said Andy Fortson, 21, of Mount Airy. "But they just can't compete with all the downloading and competition from stores like Best Buy. It seems like it's pretty much impossible to have a record store that only sells music."

So, like Tower, is the independent record store soon to be a thing of the past, as disposable as an MP3 file that can be deleted with a click? That would seem logical in an iPod culture where CD sales are down 5 percent this year and purchases of song downloads are up 66 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

But the changes remaking the music industry tell a more complicated story, and while record stores face daunting challenges, some are finding creative ways to survive in a digital world.

The music retail wreckage this year isn't limited to the 89 stores in the Tower chain. The Center City store, thought to be one of Tower's busiest, had been an Avenue of the Arts linchpin since it opened in 1999.

The Musicland chain declared bankruptcy in January, prompting the closing of stores like Sam Goody in Ardmore. Independent outlets have gone under, too, such as Repo Records, down the road in Bryn Mawr, as well as hipster haven Spaceboy on South Street.

Not all record stores are suffering equally. Many local emporiums, like hip-hop- and R&B-heavy Armand's Records in Center City, and WXPN-centric Main Street Music in Manayunk, are struggling to get by. Others, like wide-ranging a.k.a. music in Old City and Repo's South Street store, which specializes in indie rock, are thriving.

"Consumers are attached to physically owning something," said Jim Donio, present of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, based in Marlton. "We're a culture that likes things."

Though downloading is inexorably eating into CD sales, "it still only makes up about 5 or 6 percent of the business," said Billboard magazine's Geoff Mayfield. He blames Tower's demise equally on "lowball pricing from mass merchants," meaning stores like Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart. Those stores often sell new releases for as little as $9.99 to lure Jay-Z or U2 fans who might also pick up a digital camera or a washing machine.

Independent store owners like Armand's Steve Ben-Moyal can't compete, because it costs them more to buy Nas' Hip Hop Is Dead wholesale than the $9.99 the hit album sells for at Best Buy in Plymouth Meeting.

"It's a struggle," said Ben-Moyal, whose second-floor Chestnut Street store was all but empty one afternoon this week. Business is down 70 percent over the last few years, he says, partly due to a new computer program, the Serato Scratch Live, that lets DJs use MP3 files instead of the vinyl LPs that were the backbone of his business.

Store owners face a laundry list of obstacles. There's a music-sharing culture in which 2.8 billion ready-to-burn blank CDs were sold in 2006, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, compared with about 588 million CDs of recorded music. There's competition from the likes of for baby boomers who are too busy or intimidated to venture into stores.

Then there's the disappearance of the college student customer - now, happily downloading MP3s. Dan Matherson said that doomed his Main Line Repo store, which had relied on Villanova and Haverford students. But business is up 10 percent at his South Street store, where indie singer-songwriters Sufjan Stevens and Joanna Newsom are big, especially since Tower and Spaceboy went belly-up.

The loss of younger buyers does not bode well for brick-and-mortar retailers - and that will only worsen if Apple launches its long-rumored iPhone early next year.

"When I was in high school, when I was being more directly financially supported by my parents, I would love to buy CDs from Repo," Gabe Yassky, 18, a Wynnewood resident who's a freshman at Bard College, said by e-mail. "But I've lost those romantic views I had. I mean, I just don't have the money now, and everything is digital."

Raheem Palmer, 20, of Southwest Philadelphia, who goes to the University of Pennsylvania and DJs as "R to da Izza," figures that fewer than half of the 15,000 songs on his iPod come from store-bought CDs.

"For kids growing up, who've never been to record stores, times change, and you've just got to learn to adapt," said Palmer, who started working at Armand's this week. "But at the same time it hurts, because the experience of just going to the store and seeing people and telling each other what kind of music they should check out is almost gone."

Donio, of the merchandisers' group, said thriving stores are selling more than just music - video games, action figures, MP3 players. That approach is typical of f.y.e., the chain owned by Trans World Entertainment, which tried to buy Tower in October for $133.8 million.

f.y.e. spokesman John Sullivan said this week that Trans World had bought the lease of the Tower store on Broad Street, and plans to open a store as early as February. He said this store - the chain's area flagship - would be more music-centric than most, with "a good classical selection" to rival Tower's.

Another approach that works at independent record stores, Donio said, is "the High Fidelity model, where it's more about the music culture in the store."

That's the strategy of Amoeba Records, the three-store mini-chain on the West Coast, whose stores offer such a vast selection of new and used CDs that they are regarded as a Mecca to music-lovers. Co-owner Marc Weinstein calls his customers "culture hounds" - as good a term as any for the customers at a.k.a. on Second Street, where business this week was buzzing.

"We really try to carry a vast array of different types of music, and try to be as completist as possible," said a.k.a.'s Mike Hoffman, a former Third Street Jazz employee who carries 35,000 titles in his Old City store. He said business is up three percent this year. "We really cater to music heads."

That means people like Kerry Kenney, 33, of South Philadelphia, who was Christmas shopping at a.k.a, his hands full with the Beatles' Love and the Bee Gees' greatest hits, Miles Davis' In a Silent Way box set, and the African experimental collection Congotronics 2.

"When I was younger, Tower was the place," Kenney said. "I don't download, or do any shopping on the Internet. I like to experiment when I shop, and pick up a CD and hold it in my hand before I buy it. I'm more old-fashioned that way."

arthritic hand golden fist (RSLaRue), Sunday, 24 December 2006 15:48 (sixteen years ago) link

oh GOD am i sick of "digital sounds the death knell" or whatever. get a new "meme," shitty writers, thanks.


GAWD PVNCH (yournullfame), Sunday, 24 December 2006 15:52 (sixteen years ago) link

None of these articles seem to care to detail WHY Tower's prices were so terrible and uncompetitive (a reason which has zip to do with downloads.) I mean indie retailer down the block who has to pay premium price for new Nas makes sense to me, but Tower was (or used to be) in a great position to negotiate Best Buy/Walmart competitive prices (they used to deal directly with labels in some cases IIRC completely bypassing distros like Valley.)

Anyway things I will miss about Tower:

1) Buying Riddim magazine. Now I have to find a Barnes & Noble who stocks it or buy it from VP's record wing.

2) The Market stores fantastic bargain bin which was a treasure trove for imports (esp. Soul Jazz stuff.)

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Sunday, 24 December 2006 17:14 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm slightly late on this thread, but anyway:

I went over to the Tower in Santa Monica the Thursday night before they closed to see if they had anything decent at the 70% off discount. Not only did they have decent stuff, they had a lot of great metal CDs that nobody else was getting because they had never heard of the bands. After much agonizing, I trimmed my purchase down to about $60 worth of stuff. I brought it up to the front counter, and the guy scanned a couple things in and told me that the total was $27. I blinked. He asked me if I had anything else that I put aside, and I nodded quickly and rushed over to where I had left the discard pile. I brought that up front, he scanned the top CD, and gave me about $100 (after the 70% discount) worth of merchandise for $32.50. Since he was losing his job in two days anyway, and any profit was going to the liquidation company that purchased Tower, he had no real reason to care. What were they going to do, fire him? Hell, they cost him his job.

I went back on Sunday morning, since the store was closing and had everything at 90% off, and ended up getting another 27 CDs for $40. I called my friends to let them know, but just as they walked through the door, the guy up front announced that the store was closing and everyone needed to check out. Bummer for them.

My haul, all for a total of about $100 (including a couple CDs that I had purchased at the store earlier for a lesser discount), all brand-new and unopened:

April Wine - Stand Back
Ayreon - Actual Fantasy Revisited
Blackfoot - Strikes
Candlemass - Essential Doom
Candlemass - Doomed for Live
Cathedral - the Garden of Unearthly Delights
Craft -Fuck the Universe
Cronian- Terra
Darkest Hour - Undoing Ruin
Daylight Dies - Dismantling Devotion
Dead Meadow - Shimmering King and Others
ElDopa - The Complete Recordings
Ephel Duath - Pain Necessary to Know
Fandango - Fandango
the Flaming Lips - at War with the Mystics
Genghis Tron - Dead Mountain Mouth
Guano Apes - Don't Give Me Names
Herod - Rich Man's War... Poor Man's Fight
Home Video - No Certain Night or Morning
Kalas - Kalas
Lennon- Damaged Goods
Lullacry - Volume 4
Merzbow - Rainbow Electronics
the Mission - Children
Motorhead - Ace of Spades
My Ruin - The Brutal Language
The Obsessed - Lunar Womb (Reissue)
Passenger- Passenger
Pentagram - First Daze Here Too
Planes Mistaken for Stars - Knife in the Marathon
Point-Blank - Point-Blank
Brian Posehn - Live in: Nerd Rage
Raunchy - Death Pop Romance
Rebel Meets Rebel - Rebel Meets Rebel
Red Sparowes - Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun
Red Sparowes/Battle of Mice/Made Out Of Babies - Triad
Rumpelstiltskin Grinder- Buried in the Front Yard
Samhain - Final Descent
Satyricon - Dark Medieval Times
Satyricon - Rebel Extravaganza
Scar Symmetry - Pitch Black Progress
Suffocation - Suffocation
The Sword - Age of Winters
the Start - Initiation
Thunder - Thunder
Tito and Tarantula - Hungry Sally and Other Killer Lullabies
Voivod - Katorz
Warrior Soul - Drugs, God, and the new Republic
Witch - Witch
Wizardzz - Hidden City of Tourmond
Yob - the Unreal Never Lived
Yyrkoon - Occult Medicine
Zoroaster - Zoroaster

Jeff Treppel (JTreppel), Saturday, 30 December 2006 06:14 (sixteen years ago) link

Brian Posehn - Live in: Nerd Rage

the claudine longet invitational (get bent), Saturday, 30 December 2006 06:21 (sixteen years ago) link

I brought that up front, he scanned the top CD, and gave me about $100 (after the 70% discount) worth of merchandise for $32.50. Since he was losing his job in two days anyway, and any profit was going to the liquidation company that purchased Tower, he had no real reason to care. What were they going to do, fire him? Hell, they cost him his job.

Yeah, I was a similar beneficiary on what turned out to be my last day in this respect. I wasn't complaining.

Warrior Soul - Drugs, God, and the new Republic

Really, the only great thing on this album is the cover of Joy Division's "Interzone" with the howled "And we rock and ROOOOOOLLLLL!" bit at the very start. Completely ridiculous. That said I admit I can still hum the chorus of the title song after all these years.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 30 December 2006 06:27 (sixteen years ago) link

Meantime I admit the net effect of this sale has caused me to think used CDs at $6.99 are still way overpriced. This is actually probably a good thing.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 30 December 2006 06:29 (sixteen years ago) link

And to top it ALL off, BTW, I have confirmation back from AMG to review a slew of the things I picked up, which means that everything I picked up essentially has paid for itself after a couple of earlier freelance checks. I really love the way the world works.

I was down in the area of the Costa Mesa Tower today doing some other errands -- no change on the outside of the building or anything yet, just looked forlorn.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 30 December 2006 06:31 (sixteen years ago) link

We heard a rumor tonight that Silver Platters (local Seattle chain) might open in the lower Queen Anne location, which would be good news.

jaq (jaq), Saturday, 30 December 2006 08:27 (sixteen years ago) link

btw Ned, that classics done reggaeton I picked up in Tustin? That was probably a mistake.

jaq (jaq), Saturday, 30 December 2006 08:40 (sixteen years ago) link

I can't say I'm surprised...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 30 December 2006 14:58 (sixteen years ago) link

Tower Records will never apologize for this travesty. How am I going to get my magazines now? Nothing can make up for this loss, I'm afraid.

LynnK (klynn), Saturday, 30 December 2006 16:05 (sixteen years ago) link

Honestly, I had never heard Warrior Soul before, but for some inexplicable reason I've been seeing their name around a lot recently. I saw that record in the clearance bin, the remastered version no less, and figured what the hell, it might be worth two bucks. I kind of like it. Not great, but I might pull it out every once in a while. The funniest part about that record, though, is that I purchased that at Tower Sunset when the discount was at 50%, and the guy in front of me in line was also purchasing a Warrior Soul record! That has to be the most sales in one night that band has done, like, ever.

Jeff Treppel (JTreppel), Saturday, 30 December 2006 21:27 (sixteen years ago) link

Also, when I asked the guy in front of me what Warrior Soul sounded like, he actually said "kind of like Wrathchild America." Who uses Wrathchild America as a description band?! Of course, I had actually picked up a Wrathchild America CD for $.25 somewhere. But still.

Jeff Treppel (JTreppel), Saturday, 30 December 2006 21:36 (sixteen years ago) link

You didn't hear it from me, but there's a very good rumor that the Virgin Megastores are going to be the next to go in mid-2007. It won't be a full-on bankruptcy like Tower, but lots of store closures/stock liquidation.

they closed the miami virgin sometime last spring, and now the space has got that dreadful 'bodies' exhibit from china. ha!

friday on the porch (lfam), Sunday, 31 December 2006 00:07 (sixteen years ago) link

i'm a bit surprised they lasted as long as they did, too, because for such a "mega" store their selection sucked and most cds were in the $16-$20 range.

friday on the porch (lfam), Sunday, 31 December 2006 00:13 (sixteen years ago) link

i think 'the losers' could have been a massive single if it'd been released around the time 'man in the box' was a hit. if you don't like 'drugs, god etc' i'll be happy to take it off your hands for postage (i only have 'last decade dead century')

maura (maura), Sunday, 31 December 2006 03:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Who uses Wrathchild America as a description band?!

haha. i would. plus i'd be sure to emphasize AMERICA when i said their name.

GAWD PVNCH (yournullfame), Sunday, 31 December 2006 06:27 (sixteen years ago) link

God Punch - I'm honestly not sure what's sadder, the fact that he referenced them or the fact that I not only knew who he was talking about but had one of their CDs, and wasn't even listening to metal in 1990.

Maura - Appreciate the offer, but I need that Warrior Soul CD to keep my copy of WCA's "Climbin' the Walls" company.

Someone should really start a "Warrior Soul/Wrath Child America Appreciation Thread."

Jeff Treppel (JTreppel), Sunday, 31 December 2006 07:10 (sixteen years ago) link

How's Kory Clarke's new band?

pdf (unperson), Sunday, 31 December 2006 17:34 (sixteen years ago) link


Jeff Treppel (JTreppel), Sunday, 31 December 2006 20:11 (sixteen years ago) link

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