Journal

Goodbye City Lights

I just heard that CIty Lights record store in State College, PA will be closing soon. I spent a lot of time in that store checking out albums (yes, the vinyl kind), tapes, CDs, books and magazines. Greg, the owner of the shop, was like a master of ceremonies as he presided over the scene. He could direct you towards music you were bound to like because he knew your tastes in recordings. It was like the human version of the "People who bought... also like" links that appear when you buy online. I suppose buying online is one of the reasons why City Lights and numerous other independent record stores are closing their doors. I miss the good old days of going down to CIty Lights and hanging out, but I am not completely nostalgic about those times. These days there is so much more music available to the average consumer. Long ago I used to read about a release and spend weeks or months trying to track down a copy. I did find other great stuff in libraries and enjoyed trips to larger cities to search in bigger stores but overall it was just more work. I know that many artists who work in niche genres are able to sell much more music now online. I used to sell my indie releases at City Lights and now they sell all over the world on iTunes and other online download shops. So overall, there is much that has improved for musicians as well as fans. So what do I miss? I miss the human interaction. More often than not I'd not buy anything at the record shop, but would hang out and talk music with Greg or any number of other patrons who were in the shop. I miss seeing bands play live, being able to sit two feet away from Greg Ginn flailing away on his guitar was amazing. I think that online retailing of music has many more benefits for the fan and the creator of the music but it misses the human interaction and connection. Maybe the future will bring coffeehouses or listening centers that are primarily for gathering with other fans of recorded sound. I don't feel bad about buying a CD from a band on it's website, but I miss having a great place to hang out.

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