Wednesday, August 23, 2006

All Along the Tower

Sad news this am from the Post:

Tower Records, the iconic chain where generations of music lovers have gone to lose themselves in record-store reveries, is up for sale in bankruptcy court, forsaken by consumers who favor digital music and discounts at big-box superstores.


In 1991, there were roughly 9,500 chain music stores in the United States, compared with about 2,000 now, according to Billboard magazine. Although many independent stores continue to have loyal followings, those, too, are on the decline.

Tower's parent company, MTS Inc., filed for bankruptcy protection Sunday night in Delaware, putting its 89 stores on the block. The company hopes to complete a sale within 60 days. Tower's brand is used by 144 international stores, but those licensees will not be affected by the bankruptcy process.


Sign from original Tower store

I understand the market reality of it. Like so many others I’d rather peruse my musical selection from home and hit that download button and aaaah, instant gratification.

Still, I can remember my trek into the big city of Nashville and entering my first Tower Records. As the doors whooshed upon the cool manufactured air blasted out and the angelic choirs began to sing. It was beauty upon beauty facing the rows and rows and rows of cd’s.

Growing up in a small town in the days before cable each little drop of a new artist was like quenching a thirst. The listening stations featured new artists and not just the latest Garth Brooks or whatever country artist was pushed on the local stations. The cd racks had even more listening stations, it was the coolest thing ever.

I’ve been trying to pare back my massive cd collection. I just don’t have the room for all those cases. Storing the music digitally just makes sense for space saving and portability. Just like the arcade, it’s strange to think my son probably will have no idea what a record store is like.

So long Tower, you'll be missed.


Moncrief Speaks said...

Of all the chain "record" stores, Tower was the best one of all: a far cry from the generic Musicland-type places. So long, Tower.

BriteYellowGun said...

I've been to the one on Sunset many, many times back in the 80's when I lived for my music. Now does this mean we are going to have to rely on awful Wal-mart which won't carry anything it deems even remotely objectionable or non-mainstream? I guess should expect their sales to rise.

TOS said...

I always used to go to Tower in Harvard Sq, MA everyday after school in high school... it was like Disneyworld!

Steve S said...

I've never had an ipod and have no interest in getting one. I know my CD collection will go the way of the VHS tape. What can I do. While the ipod and digital music killed the record store for most, it was satellite radio that did it for me. With 500 commercial free channels, there's always something I want on. I haven't bought a CD in years, and haven't listened to the one's I've got for almost that long.

I miss the record store more than I miss the records. Our chain was called Peaches and they sold peaches crates with the albums. They were the perfect size to hold your vinyl records.

Minge said...

This is a sad day, indeed.

The Brian said...

Steve, I've been tempted by satellite radio many times. It doesn't help that I've met several XM people and they've all been really nice and passionate about music.

Virgin was another holy experience. I think I might prefer Virgin to Tower but that could be because it has the vaguely exotic feel to it. Plus the import selection!

Bacchus said...

I can't say that I'm sorry to see Tower Records go. The one here in San Francisco is not that great a place to shop. The staff isn't helpful unless you can corner them and even then you're better off on your own usually. After a particularly horrible experience with rude staff, I wrote a letter to the corporate office. Not even a chain letter in response. The problem is that the only two places to go and buy music now are either big chains with no character and small shops that may or may not understand service.

I was never much a record shop in my younger days but I do have a few fond memories of buying vynil and cassette tapes.