16 Jul 2013

News broke yesterday that Tupelo’s oldest record store, Album Alley, is closing.

I can’t tell you how many albums I bought there… 15 years ago. I download all of my music purchases these days. In fact, I try to keep my music purchases to a budget: I’m an emusic.com subscriber, and I can usually buy several records for $15 or so once a month (compare that to at least $15-20 for one physical copy of the album in a store). I’m a big vinyl fan, but even then I have to be picky, too. I love shops with good used prices (ugh, that’s a blog post for another day). I don’t buy many new albums on vinyl, but if I do, I shop around first.

I mourned the loss of a good music store, because I’ve always loved the idea of discovering a music in a store: buying an album based on its awesome cover art, hearing a song you like over the store’s speakers, getting recommendations from store clerks. But there are so many cool ways to hear new music these days, from podcasts to Daytrotter, from Facebook to Tumblr. Radio and TV only play so much, but there’s so much more music to discover online. As much as I love a record store, I don’t frequent them as often as I’d like. It’s so much easier to hear a song I like online, go find it and purchase it and, bam, it’s mine. It’s also usually cheaper, and these days I need to do as much penny-saving as possible.

Music podcasts have introduced me to so many good bands. My favorites include KEXP’s Song of the Day and Music that Matters podcasts, and of course NPR’s All Songs Considered is terrific. Soundcheck by WNYC doesn’t just introduce you to new music but also looks at trends and issues in music today.

Then again, the last time I bought an album in Album Alley was about two years ago when my favorite band released its new album. I had to have a physical copy. I told Barbara that, and she even opened it for me there in the store so I could listen to it as soon as I got back into my car.

You can’t get that online, and it’s priceless.

Thanks for the memories, Album Alley.

Talk back: how do you buy music, and from where? How do you discover new bands?