Friday, February 14, 2014

Soon, there won't be any record stores on St. Mark's Place, and that sucks


[EVG file photo]

Here's a bit of depressing (but not really surprising) news buried in a Wall Street Journal piece today about St. Mark's Place:

Sounds, the last of once-many record shops on the strip, recently limited its business days to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, said Felicia De Chabris, an associate broker with Halstead Property. She said Sounds' space went on the rental market this month, with its first showings this week.

Among the CD/record shops that have closed on (or near) St. Mark's Place in recent years ... Joe's CDs, 13 CDs, Venus Records, Mondo Kim's, Smash, Norman's, Rockit Scientist Records...

From an EVG post on the topic from January 2012:

Didn't seem like too long ago where you could have spent an afternoon on St. Mark's Place rooting through the bins of the record stores here ... then reading the liner notes/CD sleeves of your purchases at the Grassroots or wherever over a beer ... Ah, how old-fashioned

Meanwhile, all the more reason to support the record stores that remain here ... places such as...Kim's ... Good Records NYC ... Turntable Lab ... A-1 Records ... Other Music ... Academy Records ... Rainbow Music...

Updated 3:34 p.m.
Alex weighs in on all this over at Flaming Pablum.

24 comments:

Gojira said...

OK, let's start taking bets on what bland bit of suburbia will invade the space once Sounds is finally gone.

Jeff said...

I wonder if the Grassroots Tavern downstairs is gonna remain open.

Scuba Diva said...

Gojira: Probably a nail salon. There aren't enough nail salons on St. Mark's.

nygrump said...

Recently Williamsburg has had the same dynamic, the stores one could easily access off Bedford have been dispersed way out to greenpoint and bushwick...people don't value music anymore, they take everything for granted.

EV Grieve said...

I believe the people who own the Grassroots also own the building... So I think the bar is safe — unless the owners decide to sell the building or business, of course...

genevieve said...

I frequented Mondo Kims and Joes CDs. Dave's on West 3rd closed about six months ago. I first went there in '68. I love the old music and that's what I miss the most.

Anonymous said...

Although I would hate to see this place go, it really ain't up there with the great record stores like it used to be. I do have a great memory though of buying a vinyl copy of The Stooges "Funhouse" at Sounds back in 1987 maybe '88. No more record stores on St. Marks, no more movies in Times Square. Do people actually realize how boring their environment is becoming. Why even be in New York anymore?

Scooby said...

Anon 12:40 - your last 2 sentences sum up all of what has been happening in recent years. Actually quite perfectly. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly it was that has been going on and that is it - life has become something to live in a boring way. Whatever is going on is, in actuality, just plain fuckin' BORING. And it is, as you stated, "becoming" that way at each and every turn. It is the new way - to make the environment and subsequently life BORING. Your last question is a whole other topic - it's a shell - a castrated shell of a city that once had balls...
Sadly it is happening everywhere in this country not just NYC. The "dumbing down and "mall-ing" of America" continues.... I for one say "Fuck that" and live in as much of a contrary way to all the bollocks. I think that is what is called being an individual. Let's all do that and have some fun in this one life we have

BagelGuy said...

I have not walked down St Marks since the day Venus closed. Not even once.

Scuba Diva said...

But in the words of the photographer Duane Michals: "If you're bored, you're boring!

shmnyc said...

You know what I miss? The Victrola stores.

Really, people! No one buys records. No one buys CDs! This would have happened even without gentrification.

It's not that people don't value music; they just listen to it on different devices.

EV Grieve said...

I buy a lot of CDs and vinyl, which usually come with the MP3 download...

Giovanni said...

Thanks to the digital music revolution, a once $15 billion dollar industry has been miraculously transformed over the last decade into a $6 billion dollar industry. And the numbers are still heading south. The Napsterization of an entire generation has led Generation Selfie to expect free or cheap music, movies, books, magazines, newspapers, and all other content that people used to gladly pay for. And when they did pay for it, no one went broke.

Today you can pirate, steal, stream and copy as many songs as you want and you don't even have to pay for all those bulky cassette tapes that once required briefcase sized carrying cases to manage your music collection. This has led to the closing of most record stores, permanent job losses in wholesale and retail. Ironically it has also led to a historic decline in employment of musicians, since record labels can't afford to pay any band without a built in YouTube following.

The new music industry economics leaves us with breathtaking talents like Justin Bieber, disposable rap and electronic music, drum beats and loops, and brain dead pop music that's almost all chorus with minimal lyrics or even a hint of verse.

Now it's all about being able to "embrace" as much of someone else's work without having to actually pay for it, even if that means the total crapification of an entire once vibrant and profitable industry.

One day soon we will learn that Selfie Economics works about as well as Trickle Down or Voodoo Economics. In the end when no one pays, everyone suffers.

Now if only someone would find away to Napsterize sushi, froyo, Adderal, NYU, flip flops, Santa costumes and Uggs, then the total crapification of the place we call home will be complete.

nygrump said...

"No one buys records." - dude, you're wrong! Lots of people buy records and not just djs, who buy a lot. Some of us prefer sound quality above MP3. Some of us have been buying vinyl since whenever (late 70's in my situation) and never saw any reason to stop. I also buy cds and cassettes, as some artists release small editions. I don't buy downloads, I think they're a joke.

Anonymous said...

People buy more vinyl today than ever since digital took over. link

It's just like when people who don't work in publishing or bookstores insist that no one buys print books anymore. Plenty of people still buy "real" books. Most people who buy ebooks still buy print books too. You can link the naysayers to all the Publishers Weekly sales citations in the world -- and let's face it, Publishers Weekly has a much more invested interest in accuracy than some random cynical person on the Internet -- but these people yammer on and on about print being dead anyway. And they aren't even real readers, just device zombies who pat themselves on the back for finishing 50 Shades of Grey.

DrBOP said...

@Scooby.....bang on....but to expand your comment, it seems to be happening all over the world. Toronto, London (GB), even THE hardcore downtown of Paris is getting "blanded-out".
I think it's got something to do with so much behavior being driven by fear....of making the wrong move, of being (truly) different, of losing economic security (whatever the hell that is).
And it certainly has something to do with income inequality. If 'ya got the bucks, NO PLACE is boring because you can afford the fun/enjoyment.....while the rest of the 90% struggle just to make ends meet. That, imho, is the big difference.....back in the day, it didn't take many bucks to travel, to rave, to rage.
Cheaper to stay home and download the life.....out of life.

Karim said...

As much as I'll miss the cool sign, this place has been poorly managed for over a decade. I shop regularly in most record stores around the city but haven't bought or seen anything worth buying in this place for a long time. Although i have a number of used LPs that I bought elsewhere with those annoying, unremovable Sounds price tags on them so I can assume that they were a viable shop at one point. Record stores are thriving in Brooklyn and there are still many good spots left in Manhattan. This shop could have turned itself around with a little common sense.

Anonymous said...

Hitlery the evil deaf, and blind hermaphrodite will destroy earth.

shmnyc said...

OK, OK, some people buy records, and some people buy CDs, but clearly not enough to maintain the industry. Anonymous 12:57's article is not convincing; I would like to see the numbers before 1993, and even then, 2% of total sales is still low.

Off topic a bit, to buyers of vinyl: Isn't the music recorded digitally, before being put to vinyl? Does playing digitally-recorded music through an analog medium change it for the better? I'm thinking of classical music especially.

To Giovanni's point: the value of any commodity is determined by the socially-necessary labor time required to produce it. For this reason, the value of digital music approaches $0, as the means of production (a computer, disks, etc.) are relatively cheap and belong to so many people. It's not because of self-indulgent, narcissistic consumers -- it's a function of capitalism itself. And the Justin Beiber phenomenon is nothing new. Given the ability, the music industry would rather have one artist with $100 million in sales than 100 artists with $1 million in sales. They're all looking for the next big thing, and when one of them finds it, they all produce derivatives of that until they've worn it out, and go looking for the next one. Again, it's the industry itself that got itself where it is today. Billy Bragg's response to Douglas Joseph in 1989 regarding Bragg's claim "Capitalism is Killing Music", or Steve Albini's piece: "The Problem With Music" shows that this is not a recent phenomenon. Back when people were "gladly" shelling out bucks for records, people *were* going broke: the musicians themselves. The music industry's history is nothing if not a story of robbed musicians.

Scott Tatman said...

While I hate to see Sounds go, I have to say the last few times I went there to actually buy music, they were closed or "appeared" to be closed (gate latched shut. I ended up buying at one of the alternative places.

The place used to be more inviting as the door would be open on warm days. However, that hasn't been the case the last couple of years. Everytime I walk by it looks like they are closed for business.

You have to let people know you're open for business if you want customers... especially in this high rent, shop through the mail, environment. It's possible that the owners saw the changes on St. Marks and threw in the towel some time ago.

That said, I probably hit all of the other neighborhood records stores at least once a week (A-1, Academy, Goode, Kims and Other Music) and they are usually pretty busy. Not just folks looking but people dropping decent money at the register. For the time being, they seem to be doing OK and it probably helps that the competition has narrowed a bit, drawing more customers to those stores.

Billsville said...

Getting back on topic...The headline of the story is that soon there won't be any more music stores on St. Marks place, and that sucks. I agree. I don't really understand the point some people are making, that it's not a big deal because there are record stores in Brooklyn? That the music biz is corrupt and rips off musicianship. So what? That this is just how capitalism works? That music has always sucked so get over it? Excuse me but those all sound like off topic posts or maybe even trolls. Remeber that Kim's video on St. Marks also recently closed, and they also sold books and music, the corner magazine store on 3rd Ave. now sells bongs, the bookstore on 9th St. keeps threatening to close, even the Borders chain has closed, Barnes and Noble just closed their old 5th Ave. store down, and now this. I really don't care what the off topic posts are saying or what their point is, I agree with EV Grieve, when places that sell music and books and video all close down in your own neighborhood and when the few ones remaining are about to close down too, it sucks.

Karim said...

No doubt that the closing of Sounds sucks, but if a business is poorly run and it doesn't have much to actually sell, I can't have much sympathy for it. Billsville, I'm curious - when was the last time you bought anything at Sounds? We have to support these places. Not just walk by them every day and hope that they can survive for nostalgia's sake.

Anonymous said...

Been there forever. Across from the Electric Circus. 2 blocks from the Filmore. Another part of the LES that's gone.

Timothy said...

Remeber that Kim's video on St. Marks also recently closed, and they also sold books and music, the corner magazine store on 3rd Ave. now sells bongs, the bookstore on 9th St. keeps threatening to close, even the Borders chain has closed, Barnes and Noble just closed their old 5th Ave. store down, and now this.

It's almost as if the Internet has made physical distribution of text, audio, and video near-obsolete or something.