Music stores ‘decrescendo’

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    By Daniel Monson

    Corner music stores are disappearing across the nation as music-lovers turn to ?box? stores, downloading and even bootlegging to get their needed tunes and local music stores are being forced to use new methods.

    ?We focus on used inventory. With all the I-pods, people are unloading all their CD?s,? said Rhett Jones, assistant manager at Big Daddy?s CD Exchange in Provo. ?That means we have a great selection now, but all the buyers are all downloading now.?

    Sales are down, and the industry pressure is increasing for local music shops.

    ?We took over Disc Go Round a couple of years ago,? Jones said. ?We have seen a gradual dent in sales. The trend is mostly due to CD burning capabilities. People can get all the free music they need. It is putting a cramp on us.?

    There are now more places to access music than ever before.

    ?Box? stores are large shopping locations like Wal-Mart and Costco that sell new CD?s for cheaper prices than local stores. They generally focus on new-releases.

    Local stores, such as Muse Music on University Ave., avoid new-release and mainstream albums.

    ?Our focus has been on vinyl records and local CD sales,? said Chuck Hamm, owner of Muse Music. ?Our biggest revenues are from live shows, but used and local record sales are growing quite a bit. Vinyl records are something you can hold in your hand that has the original artwork. It?s a whole different experience.?

    According to the Almighty Institute of Retail Music, a research firm in California, 1,380 music stores have closed since 2003. Most of these were independent retail groups like Starbound Records and Muse Music.

    Almighty studies also report that half of all major-label music is sold at Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy.

    Starbound Records in West Valley is among the latest Utah record stores to close shop.

    ?If you want only box store options, shop at box stores,? said Matt Limburg, owner of Starbound Records. ?If you want more independent stores, then shop at independent stores.?

    Online music stores have also become an inexpensive way to download songs quickly and effortlessly.

    ?The whole record industry is just a bunch of nonsense right now, with all the downloading and the box stores,? Limburg said.

    Although Starbound Records focused on vinyl, 45s and vintage music for over 23 years, it has operated on a loss for the last four years.

    ?When people sell CD?s for below cost to get people to come buy their diapers and bread, they are going to take out the independent guys,? Limburg said. ?Record stores are just closing down, and a lot of guys move to warehouses and basements. Cost of business is too costly for independent stores.?

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