MORE Indie Invaders / POSTED BY: KINGSOFAR
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  • David Geffen, a co-founder of DreamWorks Animation SKG, sold two paintings for a combined $143.5 million to two hedge fund billionaires. (New York Times)Â
  • Check out this commentary on the closing of Tower Records.
    The death of any major music chain is bad for music. Bad for artistsBad for you.


As a kid, I remember going to the Tower in the village (NYC) and buying loads of CD and maxi cd singles. I would spend a long time browsing the aisles of the CD singles as well as CD single imports. Ah, those imports and CD singles would have amazing B-sides, those great unreleased tracks – as well as remixes of my favorite 80s songs.
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So it is incredibly sad for me to see Tower Records now going out of business. All 89 stores – internationally too.
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I went to the Tower in Sherman Oaks, CA on Sunday night. How sad as I drove by, the company that purchased Tower’s assets to LIQUIDATE their inventory (they are supposed “experts” at liquidating) had shrewdly hired those guys to stand with huge body signs proclaiming, “30% off” as they stood and waved from the corner of Ventura and Sepulveda. Sad, how you (a company, like Tower) can be sold on Friday, and the very next day, the liquidation company already has these guys with signs lined up and ready to go. It’s enough to make me sick.
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Well, as it turns out, most all the CDs were only 10% off. I’m sure next week it will be 20%, then 30%, 40%, 50%, etc. until all the inventory is gone. And no more “sales” or promotional prices on new releases. All those stickers were ripped off CDs and the discount was off the full list price, often $18.98, etc. Only magazines were discounted a whopping 30%.
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As I browsed the aisles, I thought about how far music had come – and how much had changed in just a few years (and especially since the 80s).
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Yes, Tower’s heyday was definitely in the 80’s. When people would spend hundreds of dollars on CDs (and wait in line to do so!)
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As I browsed the aisles, all I could overhear was some parent and child lamenting that they couldn’t find some video game accessory. Another couple of boys, browsing the rock aisle were maybe aged 8 and 12, declaring that they hadn’t been in Tower in “2-3 years”. Yikes! 2-3 years?
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Yes, everyone gets their music online these days. Well, maybe not everyone. But kids certainly do. And the kids are who the labels, the major labels anyhow, have relied on for DECADES as their main music buying public.
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Yes, who was in there that Sunday night buying CDs (and DVDs) at Tower?
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Old folks.Â
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Ok, sorry, not old folks, but people 25-50 years old. People my age, not kids. Parents. Couples.
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Sure, Sherman Oaks is LA’s version of being in the suburbs. But still.
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Where are all the kids?
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And why the email, you ask?
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Well, the death of any major music chain is bad for music. Bad for artists. Bad for you.
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Why?
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Because Tower used to hold great in store performances. Sure, mainly by major label acts, but still. They got people into the store and excited about music. Listening to it. Buying it.
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Now LA is left with two Virgin megastores and an Amoeba Records. Most of the indie music stores have gone out of business. Like Aron’s.
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While I first loved Amoeba, now I’m not so sure.Â
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I rarely buy new CDs there because they are just too expensive.Â
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Tower used to have some GREAT deals on new releases.
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Not so at Amoeba (unless things have changed recently – I haven’t been there in months).Â
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Amoeba’s used CD selection, while enormous, was great at first, when Amoeba first opened Good prices. Great selection.Â
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Now Amoeba’s used CD prices are nothing special.Â
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$7.99
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$8.99
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$9.99 or more for a used CD? Yup. And for old CDs that aren’t high in demand to boot!
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And every time I go shopping there, I get a bit of that “mall air sickness” where I feel lightheaded from the overwhelming size of the store (and lack of fresh air). And invariably, I get bumped into by rude tourists and indie rockers who aren’t looking as they bound up and down each aisle. No thank you.
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Going to the record store, at least Amoeba, has become to me what going to movies has become. It used to be a great experience – so fun, so exciting. Now the products are crap and the patrons are rude. I’m better off staying home and watching TV than shelling out another $10-14 to see yet another crappy movie and I’m better off buying music on iTunes than venturing out to the store to get it.
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Alas, I miss Tower. I loved shopping there. The Sunset location particularly. You never knew if you’d bump into Morrissey or another celeb while cruising the aisles. Now where do I get that same thrill? Target? Best Buy? I don’t think so.
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And those chains like Walmart and Target and Best Buy are carrying fewer and fewer music product every day. Years ago, the head of John Mayer’s label (Aware) complained that at the height of his success on his first record, they still had a hard time getting him into Target! John Mayer! If John Mayer’s label had trouble with mega-store distribution when he was hugely successful, what’s the chance for indie artists, indie labels and bands to get exposure in a chain like that?Â
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Not good at all.
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Anyhow, Tower going under, although inevitable, is a bad thing and a sad day for artists and musicians all over the world. How much longer before Borders and Barnes and Noble follow suit and stop selling music altogether?
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Tower used to take music – CDs by indie artists – on consignment. They were impressed if you sold 1-2 CDs in a 6-9 month period. Will Target or Walmart do that? I don’t think so.
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As for iTunes, sure it’s great that every artist can get their music distributed there or on myspace. While digital sales sound cool and save trees (and plastic), those digital sales are not nearly enough to make up for the loss of sales from CDs. Sure, if you can sell a million downloads of your single (like Gwen Stefani), that would be nice. But how many artists can do that? A handful. A handful. No indie artist is selling a million downloads.
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Besides, a million downloads = $1 million dollars and of that, the label or iTunes, etc. take a cut. As an artist, you are far better off selling a CD at $10-15 to a fan at a show and keeping the profit than selling one song on iTunes. Right? Right.
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3,000 people will lose their jobs as a result of the Tower closing.
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And where else can you find that selection of music that Tower used to stock? iTunes doesn’t carry everything. And even if they did….
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It just won’t be the same.
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Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320
Beverly Hills, CAÂ 90210
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http://www.truetalentmgmt.com/

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