In rotation: 4/22/20

Los Angeles, CA | Amoeba Music Co-Founder Discusses Store’s GoFundMe Drive: ‘We’re Trying to Keep the Culture Alive.’ With a staff of close to 400 furloughed, high rents on a current location and big costs to move to the new one, the physical media mecca is asking for help — even as Marc Weinstein explains how the vinyl boom kept them going this long. It seems wrong, on some level, to think of a for-profit retail store as a cultural institution in the same way we think of performance halls, museums or other centers of the arts. But for Amoeba Music, a lot of people are willing to make an exception. The same goes when it comes to applying a term like mecca to Amoeba in an actually more-or-less religious sense. So when the behemoth shop announced it was going to shift locations in Hollywood recently, there was a cognitive shift as music fans (and Blu-Ray buffs, too) began considering the idea of bowing toward Gower instead of Cahuenga. Now, there are some more worrisome concerns for customers of the Hollywood outpost that serves as a symbol of the last stands record stores everywhere are taking on behalf of cloud-free music. The coronavirus crisis threatens to put a crimp in plans to either reopen for a season at the current Sunset Blvd. locale or easily move to the new one on Hollywood Blvd.

Alpharetta, GA | Comeback Vinyl offers virtual record store, curbside pickup to Alpharetta community while physical doors are closed: Music has always been a priority in Comeback Vinyl co-owner Alex Vernon’s life, he said. He and his mother, Karen Vernon, shared a strong bond over music for his entire life, he said, which led him to becoming a DJ in college. His passion for music is why he opened his first record “store” inside an Alpharetta antique mall with his mom in 2012, a mall she and a friend opened together. He said it was not an official storefront at this point but a section of the antique mall. “I went to my first concert with [my mom], listening to new albums when they came out together on CDs … so [my parents] gave me a turntable for Christmas [one year], and I started buying records,” Alex said. “[My mom and I] started going through all her records together and buying collections together to put into this antique mall.” Alex said initially this was a way for him to build his record collection and for him and his mom to bond, but it kept growing into a bigger store inside the mall, then a 700-square-foot storefront.

Boise, ID | Record Exchange adapts to serve customers virtually on usually busy day: For musicians who make a living by playing shows in Idaho, this pandemic hasn’t been easy — and the record shop that supports them has had to close their doors. Despite this, the local music scene is still alive and well behind closed doors in Boise, and its players are now showing up for each other in a big way. If this past Saturday played out as planned, Idaho’s diehard music fans would have lined up outside of The Record Exchange on Idaho Street, itching to get their hands on some freshly-pressed vinyl. But this year, the only soundtrack that played — was crickets. But what I’m finding is, inside our homes, that might not necessarily be the case. I asked some of our social media users to share with me what music is helping them cope — during this time of uncertainty. For me, it’s The Velvet Underground. But for Marisa Lovell, it’s Neil Young. For Steven Bowman, it’s Billy Joel’s greatest hits — and for others it’s instrumental Disney songs, or a variety of other artists and genres. “There have been scientific studies done in multiple different fields that show that music is healthy,” The Record Exchange Marketing Director Chad Dryden said. So while music is there for us in this time of crisis — despite being closed, The Record Exchange wants to be there for us too.

Palm Springs, CA | Pandemic Stories: Get to Know a La Quinta Record Store Owner Who Picked the Perfect Time to Take His Business Online: I miss being able to go to record stores. When we’re not in the midst of a pandemic, much of my time and money is spent flipping through and purchasing vinyl that I may or may not need. On the plus side, this means I’ve amassed a substantial collection that will last me through the quarantine—but I’m still having withdrawals from visiting Finders Thrift and Vinyl. Finders, as you’d guess from the name, is part thrift store, and part record store, on Calle Tampico in La Quinta. Matt Lehman is the owner who keeps the shop packed with rare finds and classics at great prices. Most of the records I own came straight from his famous discount bin. In recent months, Lehman has been working on taking the record-store portion of his business online, using the name Spatula City Records. Turns out his timing could not have been better. “I was extremely lucky when this whole quarantine came down,” Lehman said. “I had been building Spatula City Records for over three months, with the intentions of launching in May. The day I shut down Finders was a Tuesday, and I spent the next three days working as hard and as fast as I could to get the site up…”

Why The Recorded Music Landscape Might Look Different By Year’s End: There are so many unknowns in the world brought about by COVID-19, and unsurprisingly, how the recorded music industry will come out the other side is one of them. Luckily we live in a world of data these days, but sometimes it’s not easy to tell what we’re looking at until we gain some distance from situation and it appears we have a ways to go before that happens. That said, it’s somewhat certain that the recorded music side of the music business will undergo some big changes and will probably look different by the end of the year. Let’s examine what we know today, and how that might influence how things could play out…One of the surprises of our imposed isolation so far is that music streaming hasn’t taken off off the way everyone anticipated. In fact, streaming in the U.S. is actually down by 9.9% during the first four weeks of quarantine compared to the first 10 weeks of the year. In the meantime video streaming, YouTube and television viewing has gone through the roof. What this means is that auto commute time listening has more of an effect on streaming usage than anyone expected, and when given the choice, consumers will always turn to content based around picture rather than audio only.

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