Your Take: How Do You Get Your Music?

Karlie Justus Marlowe | April 18th, 2009

As Brody noted on Tuesday, today is the second annual Record Store Day, when more than 700 indie record stores across the country and the globe hook up with musicians for special vinyl and CD releases and mini-concerts.

According to the celebration’s Web site, a record store is defined as “a physical retailer whose product line consists of at least 50% music retail, whose company is not publicly traded and whose ownership is at least 70% located in the state of operation. (In other words, we’re dealing with real, live, physical, indie record stores—not online retailers or corporate behemoths).”

If you dig a little on the site, you’ll find a page with quotes from artists on their thoughts and experiences with record stores. There are a few country singers with some interesting stories:

Neko Case: “I love the smell of them. I love that people actually care for and know about the music they are selling.”

Shelby Lynne: “You can’t roll a joint on an iPod – buy vinyl!”

Dale Watson: “The one constant in this ever changing music business is the heartfelt and “ear to the ground” Indie Record Stores that avid music fans and artists alike know they can count on to keep music thriving locally. I tour all over the world, and it’s these Indie Record Stores that many times make or break a market. People will always want an “album” to hold, not just have downloaded, and Indies fill that need and then some.”

Elizabeth Cook: “Record stores are the hippest libraries. In these tired ole days of homogenized entertainment, where so much of the art of our society is culminated, dumbed-down and mass produced, there is a shining jewel in the rise of the indy record stores. Going to a record shop for me is like a little treasure hunt no one can take you on but yourself. It’s fun to look around and see the other shoppers too…totally entrenched in their own adventure, anticipating the reward of heart wrenching, soul filling, joy making music that might just be a bin or a flip away.”

Although independent music stores are hurting in today’s current economy and lagging music industry, now that iTunes prices on the rise and the findings that country music fans are less likely to download music than purchase hard copies, it seems like these stores should still be a good fit with country fans.

How do you get your music—online, at music megastores or through indie record stores? And add your stories to Cook’s, Watson’s, Lynne’s and Case’s: What are your best memories of the corner music store growing up, and what do they mean to you today?

  1. JD
    April 18, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Get all my music on Rhapsody now, for the past 5 years. The only CD’s I’ve bought in the past year are Strait, Chesnutt, Steeldrivers, Zac Brown and Blackmore’s Night…..I know…. what the hell’s that last one doing in there?

  2. SW
    April 18, 2009 at 8:13 am

    I love my CDs and never want to give them up. I also buy a little bit of vinyl when the mood strikes me; I’ll definitely be stocking up today!

  3. Chris
    April 18, 2009 at 8:56 am

    I worked at a local indie store for the better part of 20 years. I still stop by at least once a week. I do get a fair amount of music online through Amazon, iTunes, half.com, etc. but I like the experience of browsing through those bins of music. That’ll probably never change, even though I listen mostly to my iPod both at home and in the car now. I still buy those CD’s…

  4. Razor X
    April 18, 2009 at 9:14 am

    The indie store where I used to shop closed down several years ago. Since then, I’ve bought the vast majority of my music online — at first, CDs through Amazon, but in the past year I’ve been downloading most of my music from either Amazon or iTunes, because it provides instant gratification and is usually more economical. I’ll still buy CDs when there’s a really special release, or when buying a CD of a back-catalog item works out to be less expensive than downloading.

  5. Kim
    April 18, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I’m with Shelby Lynne and Elizabeth Cook on this one. I love vinyl, even though I totally missed their glory days. They are really fun just to have. I found a copy of Buckingham-Nicks, the not-so-successful duo album Lindsey and Stevie released in ’73 before they joined F.Mac in ’75. Probably not that hard to find overall, but it was really cool to me being a huge FM fan finding one in a used book/cd/record store. Couldn’t buy it (broke college student) which was a little heartbreaking.

    Where’s the fun in collecting downloads? They are good for some things, but no fun. I still buy a lot of CDs. they can be cheaper than downloads sometimes and they physically exist.

  6. Vicki
    April 18, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I think downloads are great if you can instantly transfer them to your I-Pod. My problem? What’s an I-Pod? Being 50, I still have gobs of vinyl in a variety of music. I have a turntable but it’s not hooked up right. Currently, I buy CD’s-Jamie Johnson, John Michael Montgomery, Zac Brown, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, LeeAnn Womack, but I do download a few songs on I-tunes especially if it’s a great song but not much more on the album.

  7. Rick
    April 18, 2009 at 11:27 am

    If a major Nashville label releases a rare album I actually want I will buy the CD when its released at a Best Buy or Target store depending on which has a better price. The rest of my CD purchases are online through eBay, Half.com, or the resellers listed at Amazon.com which are usually cheaper than Amazon’s price. Downloads hold no interest for me as I don’t have an iPod nor do I plan on getting an MP3 player.

    Back in the late 60’s when I started hitting local record shops as a junior high age kid, we had a lot of cool stores. The best local chains were The Wherehouse and Licorice Pizza. The best deals were at the Muntz record store (next to their pioneering car stereo retail outlet) and a hippie vibe shop named Crane’s Records that burned incense and had pot smoking paraphenalia in the rear of the store. Flipping through those vinyl albums was a blast! Nowadays the most interesting place to shop in Los Angeles is Amoeba Records on Sunset in Hollywood with their huge selection. Unfortunately the parking situation there is a deterrent as the nearby lots are really expensive.

  8. stormy
    April 18, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Usually I get music I tune these days because cds take a lot of storage space and have to be copied to play on my media player which makes a long ride back from the store when I cannot listen to my music. Before that I bought them at Borders where I could also buy a book and some coffee.

  9. Razor X
    April 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Downloads hold no interest for me as I don’t have an iPod nor do I plan on getting an MP3 player.

    You don’t need an iPod or MP3 player to enjoy downloads. You can download the music you want and burn it to a CD. It’s often cheaper than buying the actual CD, and you can make an album customized to your own tastes.

    Usually I get music I tune these days because cds take a lot of storage space

    Storage space was becoming a big problem for me with my CDs, most of which are stored in my basement because there’s no space for them anywhere else. I find that I listen to a wider variety of music now that most of it is loaded onto my iPod and right at my fingertips. One common argument against MP3s is that people are afraid of losing them — that won’t happen if you backup your hard drive. I’ve never lost an MP3 file, but I’ve lost and misplaced many CDs over the years.

  10. J.R. Journey
    April 18, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I’m with Shelby Lynne and Elizabeth Cook on this one too. When I first started listening to music, cassette tapes were the biggest sellers I think – with CDs being relatively new. So my first music purchases were cassettes. I’ve went back into the catalogs of some of my favorite artists and ordered vinyl albums – especially those not released on CD yet. The Lawrence Brothers Record Shop in Nashville (may still be open, but I was there last in 2004) used to (and may still) have a huge selection of country vinyl albums, new and still sealed even. I made a really big vinyl purchase there – about 50 albums – to start off my vinyl collection, and I still add to it once in a while.

    The FYE store in my town closed about a year ago, so I buy CDs from Wal Mart or at the mall in Columbus or Cincinnati still. Online downloads are very handy sometimes – for singles from unreleased albums, and particularly when you don’t want the entire album. But I still prefer CDs to downloads.

    I’ve found space for CDs becoming a problem too – the only solution I’ve found yet is to store them in several rooms.

  11. stormy
    April 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Vicki: Radio Shack should be able to help you get cables to rip your records into your computer from your stero. A good idea even if you don’t own an MP3 player because vinyl is fragil.

    As for MP3 players–I pods suck. There I said it. They are notoriously fragil and designed to make you an exclusive apple shopper. Plus, they are huge. My little Zen Creative is tiny, takes anything burned into my media player and has a radio for when I want to listen to NPR.

  12. Leeann
    April 18, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    very rarely purchase anything from Apple. Most of my downloads are from Amazon and I have a PC. I’m not especially gentle with my iPod either. So, how does having an Ipod make one an exclusive Apple shopper?

    “Storage space was becoming a big problem for me with my CDs, most of which are stored in my basement because there’s no space for them anywhere else. I find that I listen to a wider variety of music now that most of it is loaded onto my iPod and right at my fingertips. One common argument against MP3s
    is that people are afraid of losing them — that won’t happen if you backup your hard drive. I’ve never lost an MP3 file, but I’ve lost and misplaced many CDs over the years.”

    Took the words right out of my mouth/fingertips, Razor.

    Stormy, I own and love my iPod and very,

  13. idlewildsouth
    April 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I buy Cd’s from either McKays Used Books, Ernest Tubb, Borders and Wal Marrt/Target. It realyl depends on what I want, and especially how bad I want it. Typically, if I buy it from Wal Mart its a new release of a mainstrem album, and Ill go there specically looking for that. Any of the other places, I usually go there to browse and discover something Ive missed before.

    I love the browsing. It was browsing that led me to Scott Miller, Darrell Scott , Lucero and a host of other more obscure artist. Which, is a great arguement for good album art.

    Honestly, at this point, alot of the reason I purhase physical Cd’s over downloads is because of the way I keep my money. I only put money on my debit card every other week, due to my bank being downtown, so im a little specific about where I spend that money. But also, just like the reason I buy books as opposed to reading them from the library, I love to look at the cd cases and have them there to go back to if I so choose. I love collecting the cases and having them displayed as trophies of a sort.

  14. Razor X
    April 18, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    As for MP3 players–I pods suck. There I said it. They are notoriously fragil and designed to make you an exclusive apple shopper. Plus, they are huge. My little Zen Creative is tiny, takes anything burned into my media player and has a radio for when I want to listen to NPR.

    I’ll just reiterate what Leeann said. I’m not particularly gentle with my iPod, either and I’ve never had a problem with it. It’s not huge, and I buy most of my music from Amazon, using the iTunes store only when they’ve got the best deal or are the only ones who have what I’m looking for. And since I’d rather have my fingernails ripped out than listen to NPR, not having a radio isn’t an issue.

  15. Marc
    April 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Private torrent sites. :)

  16. Ryan
    April 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I usually take a Friday trip down to Cactus Records here in Houston and buy from them. For me, I love just walking through and looking at all the music, listening to something new. Reminds that I don;t have to be in a hurry all the time and can slow down

    If I need something immediate I use Amazon MP3.

  17. Kim
    April 18, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Do that every time I’m in Houston. Great place.

  18. Nicolas
    April 18, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    From Target for the new stuff, and Amazon.com for older stuff

  19. Josh
    April 18, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I’m mainly with the masses: iTunes/Ebay/Amazon club members. :P But I found some other websites that promote much of an environmental trading type: paperbackswap.com (books), swapacd.com (music), and swapaDVD (movies) are really WAAAAY much cheaper than any online/in-store purchases. Trust me, y’all might want to check it out and sign up free for it. Plus don’t forget your local library!! That’s an extra plus since it’s free and allows you to visit any time you want for quite a number of rentals at one time…use the government to your benefit!!!

  20. Harold Mansfield
    April 18, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    I grew up in Detroit during the House and Techno ground breaking days, there was a record store called Byrite that had all the hot tracks. These days, I get alot of music sent to me (since I blog about Electronic Dance Music) so I am fortunate in that respect….anything else, I hear on Internet, or Satellite radio and download from iTunes or Beatport.

  21. stormy
    April 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Josh: They are cheaper because they are ued and you don’t have to pay the artist for anything.

  22. Steve Harvey
    April 18, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    A combination of CDs and Amazon/iTunes. Whatever the best deal is.

  23. Leeann
    April 18, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Sorry, I just noticed that my above comment ended up getting all chopped up, somehow.

  24. Josh
    April 19, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Stormy: Still a great deal nonetheless if you’re college broke, looking for a job after unstable economy. 0:)

  25. Pierce
    April 19, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Karlie: I spent many a day in high school down on Hillsborough at School Kid’s, that little bookstore next to the coffee place, and another one that went out of business (near the bagel place…grr can’t remember the name!).

    When it comes to vinyl, which I do have about 10-15 LP’s, I got them mostly at the Flea Market. There’s a dude that’s been there for as long as I remember–blasting vinyl country records from his beat-up old van and selling hundreds of them by the cart (at pretty cheap prices).

    About a year or two ago, I dropped by his stand and he ushered me in like he had a secret to tell me…it was that he had a rare copy of DAC’s underground raunchy album. I respectfully declined.

  26. Karlie
    April 19, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Pierce-I know which store you’re talking about, but I can’t think of the name either. It was right across from Winston Hall and after class once a week or so a friend and I would check out its used country bin. I scored some amazing ’90s country CDs for just a couple dollars until it closed down. Schoolkids isn’t on Hillsborough at all anymore, but I think it didn’t shut down, it just moved. I always found good stuff in the store in Mission Valley near the movie theater too.

    I know exactly what guy you’re talking about at the flea market–I was there a couple weekends ago and I laughed at the sign he had put up: “Music for people who have good taste in music.”

    BTW, the Indy here is ramping up its county music coverage, which I’m pretty excited about. The music editor tapped me to review George Jones at Koka next weekend, and he said he wants to get reviews of every show at Walnut Creek this summer.

  27. Mike Parker
    April 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Zune and Zune pass. I’ll buy anything I can’t get there from Amazon.com. It’s been a couple years now since I’ve bought physical media. I wish mp3 players had a better interface and solution for liner notes, which I miss- but I can usually look up any information I want to know.

  28. Juli
    April 19, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    I like CDs and mp3s for the convenience, but I’ve got a giant record collection, mostly 78s and 45s, and more than a few LPs. Recently got a USB turntable so I can start converting them to mp3 to play on my iPod. I’ll probably keep the records anyway, though every time I move I always say I’m getting rid of my books and records. Never happens ;-)

    Karlie, you will have an excellent time at George Jones. I saw him a couple years ago and it was excellent, though there was one “WTF” moment during “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes:” while George was singing they were playing video clips featuring folks like Kenny Chesney and Julia Roberts circa “Pretty Woman.” You’ll have to let me know if he’s still playing it…

  29. stormy
    April 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Josh: But they kind of suck if you are a singer hoping to make a living.

  30. Razor X
    April 19, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I wish mp3 players had a better interface and solution for liner notes, which I miss- but I can usually look up any information I want to know.

    The lack of liner notes is the biggest drawback to digital downloading. iTunes does offer the liner notes in PDF form for a lot of their albums. It won’t copy to your iPod, but you can read them on the PC. I don’t know why this isn’t standard practice for all digital albums at all the download stores.

  31. Steve Harvey
    April 19, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    I like the iTunes solution, as you get nice PDFs you can read on the computer or print out. I don’t really see the not copying to your iPod as a drawback, as I have no desire to read liner notes of that sized a screen.

  32. J.R. Journey
    April 19, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Stormy: Are you saying we shouldn’t buy music at used record stores simply because the artist/producer/etc. aren’t getting a cut? I’ve heard that argument from Garth Brooks and Kid Rock too, but it just doesn’t wash with me. Used CDs are exactly that – used. So that means they were purchased new once and the artist and label people got their pay once, why should they get paid every time it changes hands? I just think that’s a very greedy attitude for artists to take.

    Sorry if that’s not what you meant, I wanted to share that thought …

  33. Linda
    April 19, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    If I hear a few songs from the same singer that I like, I’ll buy the album, most likely from Amazon.com. If I only want one song, I’ll buy it at iTunes.

  34. Razor X
    April 19, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I don’t really see the not copying to your iPod as a drawback, as I have no desire to read liner notes of that sized a screen.

    Exactly. And even when you buy the CD and copy it your iPod, you still don’t have liner notes loaded into the iPod, so it’s no big deal. iTunes is offering the PDF liner notes more and more these days. I just wish it would become standard practice with all the digital retailers.

  35. stormy
    April 19, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    J.R. Journey
    April 19, 2009 at 7:06 pm Permalink Stormy: Are you saying we shouldn’t buy music at used record stores simply because the artist/producer/etc. aren’t getting a cut? I’ve heard that argument from Garth Brooks and Kid Rock too, but it just doesn’t wash with me. Used CDs are exactly that – used. So that means they were purchased new once and the artist and label people got their pay once, why should they get paid every time it changes hands? I just think that’s a very greedy attitude for artists to take.

    Sorry if that’s not what you meant, I wanted to share that thought …

    If you like an artists music enough to buy the album I don’t understand why you don’t like it enough to pay them for it.

  36. idlewildsouth
    April 19, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    J.R. Journey…While I certainly see your point, I dont see why the artists shouldnt get paid. Whats the difference in used cd stores, and me burning you a cd and selling it to you? Its the same principle as piracy, only we end up paying the store to be the facilitator.

    Of course, on the other hand, the music industry is sort of the only place in the market place that seems to feel they have the justification for this arguement. If I buy a car, and then I sell it to you, GM doesnt get a cut. So, why should an artist.

    Well..there you have it. My brainfart/brainstorm of the day.

  37. Jon
    April 19, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    It’s not illegal to sell or buy used CDs, which is what Garth et.al. were working for back a number of years ago. But Stormy’s pointing out an undeniable fact, and it’s also a fact that technology has shifted what it means to sell a CD that you’ve bought. In the analog era, when you sold a CD or tape that you’d bought, you no longer had possession of the music – or, at least, not an exact copy. But today, one can rip an exact copy of a CD and then sell it, which ethically, if not legally, changes the situation.

  38. Matt B
    April 19, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    I used to love going to Silver Platters in the Seattle area. It was a small chain of 3-4 stores that sold only CDs. They later added DVDs as a means to survive (and started selling vinyl too). Still, I think they’re down to only one store now. I love Ernest Tubb Record Shop in downtown Nashville and I typically go to the used stores to find something that’s not readily available online or in stores. I also end up purchasing a few albums here or there at big box chains but most of my country CDs I get are sent to me. Still, despite getting One Flew South’s album for free, I purchased a CD AND iTunes version of it. I rarely do that but got the iTunes one first then found the CD at a store for a remarkable price and purchased it there. I buy singles from time to time on amazon.com or iTunes and sometimes take advantage of the cheap digital album of the day deals from amazon.

    I think selling a CD to a used store or even buying it from one isn’t bad per se (I haven’t ever sold a CD to a used store) but I certainly don’t have anything against it, as I do file sharing or even making copies of stuff to give to people since that’s ‘old school’ file sharing. Also, I have to agree with Jon that ripping a CD and then selling it to a used store is pretty bad (and therefore very close to file sharing on my taboo list) but at least the person PAID for the album before getting ‘rid’ of it.

  39. stormy
    April 19, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Jon: Its not illegal. But as a person who knows musicians and a person who hopes to someday (soon-fingers crossed) make money selling books, I have to point out when sales take money away from artists.

  40. merlefan46
    April 19, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    I belong to a download site where I get a fixed number of downloads for the month. It features independent artists. Every now and then I will buy hard copy cd.

  41. Leeann
    April 19, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Emusic and Amazon are the places where I mainly purchase music. I rarely buy physical CDs these days, though I did buy an Elizabeth Cook CD that I couldn’t find digitally. It was on sale for around $6 at Borders, since they’re clearing out their music section. Like Matt B said, I get promotion CDs, but not nearly the amount of music that I need to keep me satisfied. I certainly do my part to stimulate the music economy.

    We have a bunch of records, but we never play them. We like to collect them for some reason though. Someday, I want a good stereo system that includes both a CD player and record player. We have such a combo right now, but it’s small enough to sit on an end table, which pretty much only serves as a nice decoration and doesn’t produce the sound I’d like. It was Bill and my first joint purchase as a married couple though.:)

  42. Jon
    April 19, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Eh, Stormy, if you had read past the first sentence of my post…

  43. Brad in PA
    April 20, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I buy mostly CD’s as I still love the physical product (cover art, liner notes, etc.). I try to get as many as possible from my local independent record store (Gallery of Sound) as I do what I can to keep my money in the local economy, and I have fond memories of shopping there since the days of riding my bike to get the latest 45’s. That being said, whether it is because of my already enormous collection or my general disinterest in most “new” music, I find it harder and harder to get what I want there these days. So I also do a lot of shopping at amazon.com and Collector’s Choice Music. Also pick up a lot of stuff directly from artist Web sites. My wife bought me an MP3 player for Christmas to try to bring me into the 21st century, so I have downloaded some stuff from amazon, iTunes and eMusic, but 9 times out of 10, I will choose the physical product.

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