August 13, 2010
Anita Wadhwani: Nashville indie record stores' sales spin in right direction
by Anita Wadhwani - The Tenessean
Nashville's independent record stores seem to be beating the odds this year.
While CD sales are down by nearly 18 percent in the first six months of the year, and the number of U.S. independent music stores has shrunk about 40 percent since 2004, local retail music stores say their sales are solid.
"It's almost the polar opposite of what you're seeing with mainstream music stores," said Doyle Davis, an owner of independent store Grimey's New & Preloved Music on Eighth Avenue South.
"There is the element of the last man standing. You can't walk into Walmart and buy a classic Led Zeppelin album. We're the place to go now. Go to Best Buy and it's hard to find somebody who can really help you. But everyone who works here is fanatical about music."
Sales at Ernest Tubb Record Shop are up slightly over last year, according to CEO David McCormick. Business is still driven at the store's two Nashville locations by out-of-town shoppers interested in its catalog of once-out-of-print country music recordings, he said. Some 30 percent of the music stocked by its two stores is reissued old recordings that are hard to come by in many other retail stores, McCormick said.
At Phonoluxe Records on Nolensville Road, sales are steady to slightly down, although vinyl sales continue to climb, says manager Jeff Knutson.
Knutson said his store, which buys and sells used music, has been aided by renewed appeal of vinyl records. Vinyl sales are up overall 10 percent this year nationally, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks such data.
At Phonoluxe, it's common for whole families to come together to shop for LPs, with parents browsing the store's big collection of classic rock records while teens look for new releases on vinyl, Knutson said.
At Grimey's, Doyle reports "one of the best years I can remember."
Since 2004, the number of independent music stores has shrunk 40 percent, to about 1,930 outlets, according to Almighty Music Marketing in Los Angeles.
Tower Records closed 90 stores nationwide in 2006, including its West End location here. The same year, Sam Goody's bankrupt parent, Musicland, sold the chain to a company that now operates it under the FYE banner. Virgin Megastores closed its U.S. locations in 2009.
At Grimey's, a steady stream of popular releases by independent bands has been key to drawing in customers, Davis said. The new album by Montreal-based indie rock band Arcade Fire is the fastest-selling album the store has ever stocked, he said.
"All day long, people have been streaming in to buy the Arcade Fire record," which is available on CD and vinyl, Davis said. "We haven't seen that in a while - people who can't wait are dropping in on their lunch hour to buy that hot new album."
Reach reporter Anita Wadhwani at 615-259-8092 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her music business column appears weekly.
Permission granted by copyright holder for this express use only.
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