I am deeply saddened to have received the news this morning that legendary Brighton, UK, music store, Rounder Records, is going out of business. The store's press release reads thus:
It is with huge regret and sadness that we are closing down. We will shut our doors at 6pm on Sunday 29th July after 46 years of being a record shop in Brighton Square.
What we have always strived to do is stock the best range of music at the best prices for our customers; sadly, that is not enough for us to stay open.
We are closing because we can't make it add up any more. We are a business that has been decimated by downloads (both legal and illegal), VAT avoidance by the big online retailers, a double-dip recession and the decline of the high street. Our lease has ended and we have nowhere to go.
We would like to give heartfelt thanks to all our customers over the years, and hope we have managed to provide you with some special and great music throughout this time. That's why we have been here - as a place to obtain, hear, find out about and discuss all types of the weird and wonderful world of music; to be a social hub for a musical city; a place where future bands are born; where record labels are started; where local bands can stock their first release; where you can get tickets for gigs; where there's something playing on the shop stereo that might be your new favourite band. Sadly, in 2012, this is just not financially viable.
I worked at Rounder Records for seven fun-filled years, when the music industry was wonderfully unrecognizable from the wheezing, skeletal, sorry creature it is today; when the thought of music "lovers" storing their entire collection on something resembling a credit card was the stuff of science fiction; when lyric booklets were pored over and even the smell of the sleeves was obsessed over; when the value of the record store as the aforementioned social hub and catalyst for the creation of bands and record labels was immeasurable to the music community.
Goodness me, how times have changed. I for one view the terminal decline of bricks and mortar music (and books) retailing as a cultural apocalypse that Generation Z will recognize as such when it's too late. And when they cry, "Shit, what have we done?" I'll be one of the first to yell back, "Well, we told you so."
Gawd bless you, Rounder Records.