Recently I received a copy of the DVD documentary film ‘I Need That Record! The Death (Or Possible Survival) Of The Independent Record Store’ from MVD Entertainment Group. I requested a copy of this DVD being a fan of the locally owned music stores that I frequented often in my 10+ years living in Grand Rapids, MI. I watched many of my favorite stores, like Radio Kilroy, disappear into the ether when the economy got bad and people stopped shopping.
Even now, another one of my favorite store, Beat Goes On, is on the way out. If they close, then how does “the beat go on”. Mario Leon, the owner of this store, has toughed it out for years in a sad economy. Now, once again he says goodbye to a music store, just like Believe In Music, that he worked from prior to their going out of business. Mario ran Beat Goes On out of one of the old buildings that one of Grand Rapid’s two Believe In Music Stores originally ran out of. It’s sad to see him go, but how can one hold on when there seems to be no hope?
Another locally owned record store that still manages to survive is Vertigo Music, located on Division in downtown Grand Rapids. I asked the store owner, Herm Baker, how he has managed to stay in business all of these years. He had this to say; “We have survived because of the recent explosion of vinyl LP sales. It’s that simple. Many labels now offer a download code with the purchase of a vinyl record… this helped tremendously. A decent percentage of the population still want a physical format”.
The documentary, ‘I Need That Record’, talks with underground music greats like Ian MacKaye of Fugazi and Dischord Records, as well as Chris Frantz of the Talking Heads, Rob Miller from Bloodhsot Records, Mike Watt of Minutemen and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. This documentary is a must see for any fan of old school music genres, like punk, and for any fans of those old locally owned record stores that now seem few and far between. Think ‘Empire Records’. Even this classic 90’s film goes into the possible demise of the small guy because the big music corporations are all about money and not talent! It used to be a band toured and got their name out there before they got that record deal, now they get the record deal first.