I currently live in Nashville, Tenn. and spend a good deal of time at a local Tex-Mex restaurant called Taco Mamacita. I sat down for lunch a few weeks ago and just missed the rush. I could tell my waiter was bored with his lack of work, so I invited him to sit down and asked if I could get his opinion on something. I had just been asked to write a short article for Independent We Stand about the importance of supporting independent, local record stores and needed another view. He was a college student who played rhythm guitar in a few local bands and held one of the most profound views on record stores I have ever heard. I asked him, “Why should we support independent, local record stores over large, retail outlets?” He then said, “Because without your local record shop and the guys who work there, who will you talk to about music? The guy at Wal-Mart?”
I did not realize it until that conversation, but the person-to-person interaction you find at an independent record store is priceless and completely unique to that venue. When pursuing new, undiscovered treasures in music, there is nothing better than having an educated curator guide you through the process of discovering new works and pieces of history. Without independent storefronts such as The Louisiana Music Factory in New Orleans or Grimey’s in Nashville, myself and many others would never have had the opportunity to learn about the development of culture, the lifestyles, mistakes, and achievements of our musical icons, and would not hold the intense passion we do for the preservation of music.
I grew up a music nerd. From conception, I was inundated with the sounds of Eric Clapton, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Dixie Chicks, and all of the greats. My father was an avid musician and saw to it that, even if I didn’t choose the path of the musician, I would be educated in the history of such an enormous and rich culture. Every city or town we visited throughout my childhood always contained a trip to the local record store and, in visiting many different stores, I realized something fundamental about people – music is necessary to all of us, but many people are ignorant to the incredible selection of music available. I, for one, hate to see avid music lovers led astray by the watered down, over-exposure of the Top 40. Because of this mass commercialization, many outlets have eliminated the fringes of genres to curate mass appeal. This is the wrong approach to the retail of music. People should be individually educated about their culture and its soundtrack as well as coached through the process of finding relevant, meaningful songs. Sadly, this specialized type of education is severely limited to the brick and mortar boundaries of independent record stores and is completely nonexistent in large retail outlets.
Please, support your local record stores. Visit with the guys behind the counter, chat with the owner, and buy a few classic albums for your kids to hold, feel and study. Let your children discover the music that speaks to them in the musty rooms of vinyls, CDs, and album art. The current generation is growing up without the appreciation for how incredibly tangible music can be. The embodiment of something so spiritual in a physical form drives people to care for it, display it with pride, and then pass it on like an heirloom, in hopes it will continue to speak to the next generation. Neither digital downloads nor internet streaming will ever hold that kind of value. So please, frequent your local record stores and get to know the curators of such a vast musical treasure for the sake of keeping the unique education that come with such establishments available to the world.
To find locally-owned music stores, near you, download the Independent We Stand mobile app on the App Store or Google Play or check out our online ‘locals only’ search.