This is actually a posting on the Shetlink discussion forum, from a thread inspired by rumours that my favourite record shop, Clive's in Lerwick, might be closing. As I write, Clive Munro hasn't shut yet, but it has to be a matter of time. My shopping there would only be on a social basis, these days.I haven't bought a CD since signing up for Spotify Premium.
I've spent shed loads of cash in Clive's, going right back to the days when he sold second hand stuff from that tiny wee shop opposite the Lodberrie. And Davie's right, his prices were at one point really competitive. Coupled with the tasteful selections of obscurities and the sheer breadth of music on offer, Clive's was one THE great UK record shops.
But the sad fact is that Clive's is now one of the last independent record shops. They've disappeared. If you're committed to music, if you're a serious fan, and especially if you live remotely, you now have Spotify Premium, you have iTunes, you have Bleep, Bandcamp and - for the brief interim period when we're actually still buying hard copies of digital information - Amazon and Indigo and Play.com. And that takes in DVDs and games, too.
For the majority of consumers, music is a whisker away from being a completely online, mobile, almost free phenomenon. Once the fibreoptics are up and running here we won't need Blu-Ray or DVDs. Everything will be coming down that digital pipe. Or to our phones/tablets. And, Davie, I think you'd admit that musicians who depend on CDs are drinking in the last chance saloon, most now accepting that their money in the future will come from live shows and associated merchandise sales.
But. Fans will always want a souvenir. Committed fans will always want the best. They will want cover art and lyric sheets and other goodies. And so there will forever be a market for high-quality, luxurious sonic souvenirs of the band you love. For that, there's nothing better than vinyl. One of my sons is thinking of buying the £33 luxury vinyl package of the new Radiohead album. Even though he doesn't have a record player.
On the other hand, technophobes, late adopters and the elderly are going to want a sound format they can understand. Which is why Tesco is full of all those Sinatra compilations, and £1.99 Kinks/Stranglers/Sinatra/Buzzcocks/Val Doonican Greatest Hits.
I've had this conversation with Clive. I told him I thought there were fantastic online niches available for someone selling rare vinyl, souvenir, limited edition box sets, curated, recommended downloads, and merchandise of every sort. But that, sadly, the days of the record shops we loved and once lived for are over.
Google 'Lefsetz Letter' for the cutting edge music industry thinking on this.