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November 05, 2009 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

tr

weekend
essentials
Nov. 5 to Nov 8
AT THE MIC
Need a cool new party
trick to dazzle your
friends? Tonight at 5
p.m. at the Michigan
Theatre, illusion-
ist Jamy Ian Swiss
will give a lecture as
part of the Penny W.
Stamps Distinguished
Visitor Series titled
"Sleight of Hand: How
Bodies Fool Minds."
His lecture will high-
light the importance of
the body in relation to
psychological deceit.
Admission is'free, so
come watch Swiss
and pick up some mad
skills in the process.
ON STAG E
Between the Friars,
Dicks and Janes,
Compulsive Lyres
and Amazin' Blue, it's
tough tkeep upwith
the University's vast
a cappella scene. The
Michigan A Cappella,
Council will get you
up to speed with their
annual MACFest at
Rackham Auditorium
on Saturday. A total of
14 singing groups will
be performing. The
show starts at 8 p.m.

orci store D1I
THEY'RE AS SIGNIFICANT AS EVER, BUT
ANN ARBOR RECORD STORES
CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE
BY JOSHUA BAYER
Daily Music Editor

.-ilking into Encore
Records is like stum-
bling into a corn maze,
a disheveled college bed-
room and a natural history
museum all at once - just 20
times more overwhelming than
any of those places. The walls are
practically crawling with musi-
cal artifacts from the past century,
teeming with an otherworldly sort
of life that's completely missing
when you're browsing for obscure
records on allmusic.com.
But as daunting as
walking into a
"mom-and-
pop" record
store can be,
there's also
something incredibly
warm and fuzzy about browsing
records in a culture den surround-
ed by fellow music lovers. There's
something magical about pulling
a vinyl record from a shelf based
purely on the merit of its cover art,
handing it to the store clerk and
having him play it for you.
This might all sound hunky-
dory, but if the financial wallop
peer-to-peer music sharing delivers
to these stores continues, this expe-
riencecould be gone faster thanyou
can say "Lady GaGa."
it's disturbing to consider how
much the market for these home-
spun businesses has col-
lapsed over the years.
"Ten to 15
years ago,
there were
actually
about 12
record
stores
in (Ann
Arbor). There
was a way over-
supply," says John
Kerr, the owner of

Wazoo Records.
"And, slowly but surely, they've
all crumbled and there's just four
now, really," he says. "And probably
all four of those stores, including
us, are struggling ... I don't really
think there's too manypeople doing
real well in this business."
But thanks to the sweat and
blood of these record store own-
ers - and a miraculous stroke of
cultural karma - these shops are
still around, although the payout
is slim.
"You're not gonna get rich at
this," says Matt Bradish of Ann
Arbor's Underground Sounds. "I
am not rich. I work a tremendous
workload. Most people wouldn't
even contemplate the time commit-
ment."
To Peter Dale of Encore, Brad-
ish of Underground Sounds, Kerr
of Wazoo and Marc and Jeff Taras
of PJ's, owning a record store isn't
a business - it's a crusade. And if
the record industry continues to
slump, these precious cultural hubs
of community-serving self sacrifice
could become an endangered spe-
cies.
THE INTERNET: FRIEND AND FOE
In many ways, the Internet has
been responsible for the economic
pickle in which record stores have
recently found themselves. Accord-
ing to Dale, the value of CDs has
dropped at least 50 percent in the
last three years due to the massive
availability of albums online.
"(Prices are) gonna continue to
go down," he says. "That's just the
way it is."
And Kerr adds that Wazoo has
certainly been outsourced by sites
like Amazon.com that conveniently
"sell legitimate CDs on the Internet
and have unparalleled selections."
Still, record store owners have
found ways to harness the Inter-
net's vastness in their favor. Dale
mentions how the Internet has
made it much easier to advertise to
international markets.
"There's just not enough demand
locally to sell a 50- or 100- or
200-dollar record," he says. "You
have to find the audience, and the
audience is national if not interna-
tional."
Back in the Stone Age, record

store owners had to slog
through the cumbersome process
of posting countless ads in specialty
collectors magazines and newspa-
per auctions. Now, they can simply
put pricey rarities up for grabs on
their websites and wait for some-
one anywhere on planet Earth to
bite.
Dale also thinks the Internet has
"made the prices of records truer."
"Before, there were some things
that were 'collectible',when they
really weren't. They were just
regionally hard to find," he says.
"Now, everything can be found
- so the true value of stuff is appar-
ent. You canjust check online to see
what things are selling for on eBay."
In fact, both Dale and Kerr have
even started selling merchandise
on Amazon and eBay, despite the
loomingcorporate cloud these mar-
ketplace conglomerates have cast
on the "little guys."
As Kerr says, "You've gotta figure
out a way to make the Internet work
for you to some degree. There's no
stopping it."
IGENERATION: THE KIDS
AREN'T ALRIGHT

for
it."
And, appar-
ently, about how
we should be getting
it too.
Given the prime real
estate these stores occupy on
campus, the expected collegiate
frequenters have been surprisingly
infrequent.
Dale observes that his target
demographic at Encore has com-
pletely shifted away from the col-
lege-age bracket.
"Most of my customers are from
out of town," he says. "I don't adver-
tise on campus because the average
person on campus doesn't buy stuff.
They just take it off the Internet."
Drew Leahy, president of
MyBandStock (a website that
allows fans to purchase "stock" in
a band in exchange for exclusive
access to band footage and updates),
exemplifies this cultural swing.
He reluctantly described how he
was recently in a record store and
couldn't connect with it, despite his
desire to do so.
"I like to search for music
on a search engine and lis-
ten to a couple things and
then decide what I like,"
he says. "This (record
See BLUES, Page 48

FILM
Lightworks, the annual
film festival featur-
ing student projects
from the Department
of Screen Arts and
Cultures, has accumu-
lated a large body of
work over the years.
Now's your chance
to see a selection of
student submissions
from years past. The
free screenings begin
tonight at 7 p.m. in
UMMA's Helmut
Stern Auditorium.

CONCERT
Brace your ears for a
pop overdose - Sat-
urday night at the
Blind Pig is going to be
a doozy. Headlining is
OK Go, with its razor
sharp brand of hook-
stuffed power pop.
But the real surprise
should be buzz band
Princeton. Boasting
a Wes Anderson-fla-
vored breed of orches-
tral chamber pop, the
band's debut, Cocoon
of Love, is sure to pro-
vide a set list that will
have you swooning.
Tickets are $12 and
doors open at 9 p.m.

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