Monday, September 21, 2015

The last record store on St. Mark's Place is closing


[EVG file photo]

Sounds is shutting down soon at 20 St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. The final sale is on now.



There's not much left inside…


[Photo from Saturday by Jeff Stache]

The shop has been around longer than we expected. News of the impending closure first arrived in February 2014.

The second-level retail space remains on the market. There isn't any mention of the rent on the listing.

Sounds joins the ranks of other 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...

Updated 4 p.m. — You can read some history of Sounds via this HuffPost article from 2010.

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

You can check out the other record stores in the neighborhood, including Good Records NYC ... Turntable Lab ... A-1 Records ... Other Music ... Academy Records ... Rainbow Music (until Sept. 30)...

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is amazing this shop lasted as long as it did. I will miss this place. So many great memories.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Amazon, Thanks Napster. You both helped destroy an industry that used to produce great music, and now the biggest acts are hacks like Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. You gave us a world where the best new music is all the old music. Congratulations, you won.

Anonymous said...

Freebeing was the store to buy records at.

Anonymous said...

Why are you blaming amazon or napster? Blame the American public. Blame greedy record companies. Blame smartphones. The fact that these stores still exist is amazing. Who buys cds? I know records have become popular again but thats a niche market. Times change. There are so many great bands from all over the world that I have heard because they have music online. Welcome to 2015.

Anonymous said...

This is not about gentrification at least but about old technology the same way C30 - C60 - C90, 45 RPMs, and 78 RPM's. Music began to suck when like most things in our culture began to consolidate, movie studios, record companies, and even radio stations. It became about scale and putting corporate money behind a lowest common denominator and hyping and promoting that person like crazy. Remember the time before recording artists did ads for perfume, lipstick, hamburger chains, shitty reality talent shows, soft drinks, etc... Pop stars are vetted to be acceptable to kids, safe for corporate America and darlings of the ad world. Good music will always be out there, you just have to look a lot harder than ever before to find it.

Anonymous said...

you fogies are ridiculous. blame napster? have i time traveled back to 2003? digital was inevitable, it's 2015. and for the record, vinyl and cassettes are experiencing an incredible renaissance. the lines to peruse vinyl at amoeba records in los angeles can be over 30 minutes on weekends. also, to refresh your memory, there were plenty of hack artists putting out vapid music in the analog era. the fact is, today there is a tremendous amount of amazing music being released and it's easier than ever for a musician or band to disseminate their creations to the world. get with it and put the blame where it truly belongs: nyc's obscene real estate market.

Josh said...

This is sad that the store is closing. As far as music sucking now, there's good news and there's bad news. The bad news is popular music sucks. The good news is there's tons of great stuff coming out all the time, if you can find it. Google raven sings the blues, space rock mountain, or styrofoamdrone. That'll get you a good start. RIP st marks record stores. Thankfully there's still academy and A1. -J

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:39, You make good points, but in the end, it's not the real estate market that is behind Sounds going out of business, it's the fact that no one buys CDs. This is happening around the world. It's as you say: Welcome to 2015!

Anonymous said...

Yes everything posted here is true, the changing ways in which people listen to music and buy music. I, too, read the recent stories about vinyl. There are other blogs where one can wax on forever about the infinite better musical sound of vinyl and have the fight of your life with people who think the CD sound is superior. I remember the care one had to take with the diamond needle as one placed it down on the vinyl--how easily everything scratched. I am not so sure that the backward glance is truly in the the service of better musical sound. As for Sounds, I used to stop in when I went to the Grass Roots. The owner of Sounds is a decent guy--perhaps he never saw how to move his business into viability as the times changed. That is a problem with a lot of businesses--they start at point A and go on and on and never see that the world is changing around them that their business goes into the tank (yes Saint Marks Bookstore are you listening?). Sad to see it go.

RichG said...

Anonymous 9:20, yeah I remember buying Nick Cave's The Firstborn is dead at Freebeing when it came out in 1985 - the place was very small - just around the corner from Gem Spa...

Anonymous said...

Ummm...to Anonymous 10:36 AM

Considering Rudy Vallee and Bing Crosby did advertisements for perfume, soap, cars, food, etc. your argument seems a little weak.

In fact let's go back to the 1890's and look at the sheet music (available to peruse at NYPL). What about that great song "Under the Anheuser Busch".

Commercialism and music go way back.

But, as a child of the 70s and 80s, I miss the serendipity of record store browsing. That being said, I haven;t even bought a CD in years because stuff is available digitally and my CD player keeps conking out.

Time has changed. I do miss it, but that's what happens. As long as it's not a high end boutique or bank or froyo replacing Sounds....

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @ 11:39 AM: This "old fogie," who'd frequented Sounds, Freebeing, Angel, Downstairs, Tower, et al., "back in the day" has seen record stores all over the country die practically the same death. The Tower chain closed all of its stores (except in Japan?) over a decaded ago, for example. I don't blame Napster, nor any boom in real estate values (though that has killed a lot of independent retailers in many cities). Why are book stores (including Barnes & Noble) all over the country closing? The market for media and the methods of "delivery" have changed. Amazon's taking over.

I'm surprised that Sounds hadn't gone under a decade ago, and not from rising rents and real estate values. It's seemed an anachronism for a while. The only independent music ("record") stores that survive now are ultra-hip retailers which thrive from being cultural hubs, with in-store performances, obscure releases, "vinyls" and turntables on which to play them, band merch, and fortuitous utter lack of competition in their city.

Anonymous said...

Heh. Dudes, dudes, dudes. You're missing when the trouble REALLY started:
I can't find it but there's a marvelous observation about recorded music in one of my favorite Vonnegut novels. He talks about the fact that before all our newfangled ways of sharing music (I'll sum up what I took away from it)...
Every town, every little community, would have someone who was marvelous at the piano, singing, banjo, etc. Who would delight and entertain their community with their talents and efforts. Then recorded music came along, effectively pitting them up against the champions of the world, whom, of course, they were no match for.
He goes on to point out that we still are occasionally treated to live performances by talented amateurs who will grab the mic and share what they have to offer...
But here's the beat part (oh Kurt, I miss you so!):
Instead of the praise and thanks they would have received in days gone by... This is what they inevitably hear from their audience:
"Man, you were drunk last night!!"

EVQP said...

The end of an era...farewell, almost-last bastion of the "old days" of St. Mark's Place... RIP Sounds!

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of a sides to this argument, but as previously mentioned the NYC real estate market shares not all…but ALOT of the blame. I was in LA a few months ago and as I usually do when I'm there I shop at Amoeba. That place is a busy-ass, booming store with lots and lots of customers. NYC should have the same, but look..we know what the deal is here now. The people that give a shit about that stuff are being pushed aside for glassy condos, upscale nightlife, and all around shallowness. Sure there are a handful of decent records stores still left here. But the fact that excellent record stores exist in major cities other than New York is really a shame. Personally I haven't been in Sounds in a while, but once upon a time that place was buzzing. I bought my first copy of The Stooges-Funhouse there around 1987. RIP.

Anonymous said...

Selling music to the people is/was a noble trade. Thanks Sounds, you will be missed.

Anonymous said...

I believe Amoeba- which is a big tourist attraction- bought their building on Sunset Blvd in 1999 for very little. Its an enormous space with underground parking and homeless camped at the bus stop outside. Nobody here would like that right? A tourist spot with parking? And if in the store music isnt entertaining- no worries- the tweekers outside will entertain you with their antics and panhandling and public pooping. Dont compare NY to the dump that is LA.

Anonymous said...

This thread in 1915

Damn you Ford, Chrysler and GM for putting the best carriage store out of business!

Anonymous said...

What a coincidence -- Onion writers must read the Comments!

Click me.

Anonymous said...

That photo is haunting. The space looks just like it did in 1985 - and before I guess.
Question: Why are cashier counters at record stores always on platforms so you have to crane your neck up at the clerk?

Anonymous said...

In the late 90s/early 00s I used to sell my CDs at SOUNDS whenever I needed to make up rent and buy music when I had a few bucks. RIP - thanks for the good times.

Anonymous said...

10:53 -- on a platform probably so they can see the merch, and make sure it's not slipping into people's pockets. When I was a clerk at dearly departed Olsson's (in DC), I would occasionally make announcements to the teenage boys: "Please don't steal!"

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:47, You were only short on rent the cost of a few CDs? Good on you, mate!

Anonymous said...

Like many of you, I spent countless hours going through these very bins in the 80s+90s mostly. When I saw the closing signs up the other day, I went in to go through the bins for old times sake even though I don't even have a record player right now. I really just wanted to spend time in the space one last time. It was as great as always, people lined up per bin each moving over one bin at a time in unison. Strangers talking to each other about records and things in the neighborhood. I got a big armload of good records (Iggy Pop, Bryan Ferry, Nina Hagen), even a few oddities I grabbed solely for the cover, and got it all for cheap. Just like old times. I am really going to miss you, Sounds!! You were the best and gave me so much great music.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 4:53

A 'tourist attraction'. You're way way off. You've got Sunset Blvd. confused with Hollywood Blvd. 'Tourists' don't go to record stores, they go to theme parks and take bus tours. What would 'tourists' be looking for at Amoeba? Exotica records? 180 gram reissues? Yeah..that's what 'tourists' look for. Your eloquent description of 'public pooping' and 'tweekers' sounds more NYC than it does LA.

Anonymous said...

loved this place. RIP!

Anonymous said...

How long before A-1, Academy, Good Records, and Other Music close? I say they, EV bookstores, and EV live music venue all close within five years.

nygrump said...

Why do some people seem to need to show off their insecurity by declaring 'no one buys cds anymore' why I just bought one last night. It really seems to bother the media-free people that some of us don't like to be at the whim of cloud services and have to rely on an internet connection to hear music. Some of us don't like the idea of the State tracking each song we listening to and how long we listen to it (as they do with our online reading). Tourists DEFINITELY do go to records stores, not all tourists are morons who stand in line waiting for Macy's to open up. When I went to London one of my big adventures was going to the original Rough Trade store. I always check out a towns used book and records stores. Music got killed by the industry's greed - the need to repackage the Beatles for the umpteenth time and the gross overpricing of Cds as well as the ultraefficiency of the corporate culture, in tandem with the elimination of anything interesting on broadcast radio and destruction of local scenes.

Anonymous said...

So many people put the blame in all the wrong places. When I was younger, & record shops were around, it was awesome to stroll through the stores, being able to pick out what we wanted, & running into records, Cassettes, CD's, what ever your pleasure, that I never would have known were released or out there for purchase. Put the blame on laziness being the very 1st. It's so much easier to sit on our back sides letting our fingers do our buying instead of going outside, getting to the store, & having to use a little energy into it. Now, don't get me wrong, sometimes the computer comes in handy when we have no other resource to find something old, out of print, & may only find it online. But, then we can also blame the economy! A LOT of these single owner shops have been run out of business not just by the bigger shops, (although this does have something to it) & technology, & laziness. It's called "Obama" I have seen more small shops I use to love to frequent & purchase items from, & had gotten to know the owners on a personal level as U end up going in so much they begin to recognize their regulars, & it's that personal touch that may U want to go back. Now when we buy something online, & the pkg. is ruined in the mail, lost, what ever, U end up playing...talk to the answering machines, with no answers back until they feel like it, & that IF they even call back. Obama has made the days of being able to have your own store, obsolete. They cannot afford to have full time workers due to the over whelming costs of health insurance the little man is forced to have for the full time employees. How many people that had full time hours in a shop they worked in for yrs. just to be told by the owner they can no longer staff full time, only part time, then they loose the best workers they had become close to, due to the need of them looking for a job (good luck) that is still full time with benefits. Doesn't exist much any longer. This being "why" it will be the Most Important Election Year EVER! God has chosen the one that shall lead this country back into the days of being able to have your own shops again, & allowing them to higher the workers they loved so much back...maybe. The word is out, & that word is, "God has Chosen Donald Trump for President for 2017" He will take us back to the days where people will No Longer have to fear what may happen if they take their families out for a day in the sun, full of fun once again, the computer will still be a huge part of us, but it will be put on the back burner more, & people, families, & friends will come together for outings, instead of chatting on twitter, Facebook, Skype & so on... God bless America, she will be a Super Power Once Again, as she should be, has been, & forever more will be.