Wanna Meet Cat Power?

Because if you’re one of the first one hundred people to purchase Sun from Amoeba LA next Tuesday September 4th — aka the day the album hits streets — you can have said album (whether it’s the deluxe version or the regular version) signed right then and there by Chan Marshall herself.

Some more details HERE.

Bummed that you don’t live near LA and can’t possibly make it down for this signing? Well, hopefully your depression can be assuaged by the absolutely stunning 2xLP deluxe edition with alternate gold foiled cover on clear vinyl and bonus 7″ featuring 2 non-album tracks can be picked up at your local independent retailer.

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 19 – Madcity Music Exchange

For some reason that I can’t explain there has always been a seemingly high concentration of Madison, Wisconsin transplants here in New York City.  I mean, it’s New York so you’re bound to run into someone every couple of minutes who isn’t from around here but it seems like everywhere you look there’s some kid from Madison.  And it seems like those who know what’s up all say the same thing – Madcity Music Exchange rules.  So as you should do anywhere you go, trust the locals.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.
MadCity Music Exchange was started in 1981.  Moved to our current location in 1989.  Has long been know as Madison’s place for music fans, hipsters, band dudes/chicks and other arty/low life types.  It was purchased by long term employee Dave Zero in 2007.  Since then it has gone under major renovations and now has a larger and more diverse stock of new and used vinyl and CDs.  Specializing in new releases and hard to find titles.

2. What got you into the independent record store business?
I’m the rare success story of the hang-around-long-enough-and-they’ll-have-to-hire-you philosophy.

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
Green Noise Records in Portland is great!  I also really like TD’s CDs and LPs in Bloomington, IN.

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
The remodeling and expanding of stock has really started to pay off.  We’ve been doing real well.

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
Survival for a record store these days depends on a few things: 1) knowing what your customers expect to find and having it  2) being able to surprise your customers  3) being able to juggle a lot of different ways to find income  4) having a niche that’s needed in your town

6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
We had a instores with The Black Lips and Peter Case that were great.  We also had some fun giveaways from Drag City.  We are up for trying just about anything.

7. Why do we need record stores?
We need record stores because everything else in the music world has become so impersonal.  Reading a review on Pitchfork than downloading it while sitting all by yourself on the couch is a terrible way to live.  Record stores open give you a sense of adventure that should always be part of music.

8. What kind of taco is your favorite?
The one my wife makes me for dinner.

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
Imposable for me to get it down to three at any one time.  Sorry.  Recently I’ve been obsessing over: Eater, Abner Jay, Horse Feathers, Nick Lowe, The Spits, Michael Rother, Ebo Taylor and some solo Bob Mould albums I missed the when they originally came out.

10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
I love the way it looks now.  As mentioned, we’ve been remodeling off-and-on for about four years and finally have it looking good.  It’s spacious, bright and welcoming.  It also has a stage perfect for instores.

11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
Short term: we’ll be revamping our website be e commerce and more interactive.  And getting a new sign for the front on the store.  Long term: Keep selling new and used CDs and vinyl to people who love music.

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 18 – Lakeshore Record Exchange

Rochester, NY. AKA The Flour City. AKA home of the Eastman Theater (yea. That Eastman) and The Rochester International Jazz Festival. AKA also home of one of the raddest stores in the area, Lakeshore Record Exchage. Sounds like these guys got the jump on the dotcom boom when they snatched up the alternativemusic.com URL. Unfortunately I didn’t have the heart to tell owner Andrew Chinnici that Mondo Kim’s closed years ago. But he should totally check out Kim’s On First next time he’s in our neck of the woods!

1. Tell us briefly about your store.
Lakeshore Record Exchange has specialized in alternative music since 1988. Focusing on imports and independent labels on vinyl, CD and DVD as well as posters t-shirts, books and magazines, We’ve expanded into  jazz over the last 10 years and sell both new and used, vinyl CD and DVDs. We’ve been doing mail order since we first began and jump into online sale back in the early 90s with our full ecommerce site at www.Alternativemusic.com.

2. What got you into the independent record store business ?
I had worked for Transworld Music for 3 years while in college and was a customer of Lakeshore Record Exchange for 3 or 4 years when the original owner abruptly decided to sell the store and move to Texas. I didn’t have plans to own my own store but when the opportunity fell in my lap, I pick it up and ran with it.

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
Record Stores? Amoeba, Mondo Kim’s, Other Music, Newbury Comics.

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
It’s usually pretty steady because we have a lot of records and rare CDs listed on multiple online retailers, so there’s never a dull moment in terms of online sales. The vinyl boom has been great for business because it’s caused a large expansion of our customer base and brought in steady stream of customers looking to sell us their vinyl, CD and DVD collections.

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
Continually taking advantage of the numerous online marketplaces for selling music as well as keeping a close close tabs on the lightning fast changes of the new  upcoming bands and genre trends that don’t seem to pause for a moment.

6. Why do we need record stores?
We still find that most of our regular customers come to us because they are looking for the personal recommendations and to be kept informed on whats the new big thing at the moment.     Preserving the tactile pleasure of searching through racks for that album that is going to be one (or many) that you were looking for.
7. What kind of taco is your favorite?
Black bean with salsa fresca, guacamole, & jalepenos.

8. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
The Horrors, Thee Oh Sees, and Trust

9. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
Doing business in our own unique way to super serve our customers, our product mix and merchandising system for our CDs.

10. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
To not just stay afloat but grow our over the counter and online sales. Broaden our product mix even more.

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 17 – Schoolkids

More than just being the college basketball mecca and home of the khaki, tucked in Polo, sandal-combo that southern frat bros so love, North Carolina’s Triangle region (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) has a history steeped in serious rock and roll. So of course the area must have some serious rock and roll record stores, ya? Of course there is the already-profiled Bull City and the renowned CD Alley, but arguably the most revered in the area is Raleigh’s Schoolkids. I spoke with main Schoolkid Stephen Judge (no relation to our own Judge) about his favorite stores and tacos but didn’t ask him what the fuck Robert Plant was buying at the store.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.
Schoolkids Records in Raleigh, NC. We just celebrated our 39th Anniversary last weekend which happened to be on Record Store Day and had the best sales day in story history.  The store has been named by Time Magazine and The Grammys as one of the top ten legendary stores remaining in the United States.  Still thriving on Hillsborough Street at our original first location across from NC State University.

2. What got you into the independent record store business?
in 1990 I was hired at Schoolkids while attending NC State University. I begged them for two years to hire me before I got a job. I shopped here in high school in the 80s (drove over an hour to come here) left in 2002 to work for Redeye Distribution/Yep Roc Records for 7 years and then started my own label (Second Motion Records) and magazine (Blurt) four years ago. I recently bought the store that I started at so now I’m the owner and I run the label and mag out of the store.

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
Amoeba Music (LA, Berkeley and SF), Music Millennium (Portland), Criminal Records (Atlanta), Easy Street Records (Seattle), Waterloo Records (Austin),  Crooked Beat Records (DC). Flat Black and Circular (East Lansing, MI)

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
Great, we are seeing growth for the first time in years, 40% growth in Vinyl and RSD this year was the best day we have ever had in 39 years. amazing. So we feel good about the future.

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
Diversity, customer service, being the culture center and the center of a culture.

6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
We love doing instores, we get loads of giveaways from tickets, to autographed lithographs whatever, it all helps fans love it.

7. Why do we need record stores?
You cannot repeat the experience of a record store anywhere else, they are the culture center for music, trading ideas, songs, thoughts and often therapy.

8. What kind of taco is your favorite?
Bean and cheese

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
The Shins, Lost In The Trees, Dexter Romweber Duo

10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
Our history

11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
Continue to fight and survive, we would love to have more here, such as more instores and evening shows and a coffee shop. More things to hang out and share with the community.

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 16 – KA-CHUNK!! Records

For this week’s installment, I spoke with Matt Mona of mid-Atlantic mainstay KA-CHUNK!! Records in Annapolis, Maryland. One thing we noticed is that as much as anyone we’ve spoken to, Matt’s heart is pointed in the right direction. This dude loves records and music and everything that comes with owning a record shop in today’s landscape. Some would classify Matt as being “stoked.” Another thing we noticed is how pretty much every other profile has named Chicago’s Reckless Records as one of their faves… just sayin. So read on, my brothers and sisters.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.
KA-CHUNK!! deals almost exclusively in vinyl with a healthy portion of concert and art screen prints. One thing I noticed about a lot of record shops was that they kind of thought of records as a side business to CD’s/DVD’s or they were more geared towards used records. So I figured if I focused first and foremost on vinyl that I could offer a wider selection of new records and carry a lot of stuff that would be neglected in a lot of shops. I was either going to have a CD/Vinyl shop that was ok or hopefully a kick ass vinyl shop. I’d rather have a kick ass vinyl shop even though I’m sure I’m leaving some money on the table by not catering towards CD’s.

2. What got you into the independent record store business?
Records have been something I always thoroughly enjoyed and I never wanted a “real” job so it seemed if I was going to make a run at anything it would be this. I’ve had an online business for many years prior to opening up a shop so I’ve been gradually working my way into opening up an actual shop.

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
That’s an incredibly hard question to answer just because I don’t have to the time to go record shopping any more since all I do now is maintain mine and patiently wait for customers to sell me old Parliament, James Brown or Kinks records I can squirrel away into my collection. C’mon, guys! Hook me uuuuup!! I’m so behind the times on current record shops. The last record stores I heavily frequented were Reptilian Records in Baltimore and Record & Tape Exchange in Annapolis and those are long gone. Those are contemporary, right? I think I cheated on this question a bit. Although I really enjoyed Reckless Records in Chicago when I visited and I have incredibly fond memories of Smash Records in D.C. which is still around.

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
It’s definitely an upward trend but I’m a pretty new shop anyways so that should be expected. I’m basically located between Baltimore and Washington D.C. so more and more customers are making the trek from both cities to frequent my shop. It’s always incredibly flattering to hear when people leave a city loaded with record shops to shop in yours. But bottom line is I’m a healthy business that’s going to be sticking around for a while.

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
This question is just begging me to start talking straight out of my ass. “Please Matt, just start making up bullshit, it’ll be all right!” I’m not a marketing wiz, I really have no idea, plus I’m the new guy on the scene so I hardly have any wisdom to add for people that have been around for a while. The only thing I know is that as a whole we should be making sure Record Store Day is protected. I think it’s an amazing event that generates an incredible amount of publicity and interest into vinyl. Indies should step up their game and not let the major label cash ins rule the day. That event helps me run my business so much better because it gives me a financial backing to carry records that may sit around for a while but when someone does finally pick it up it may change their life. I’m not going to sell a Wipers record every day but if I have some cash in the bank I don’t have to chuck it out of the bin to make room for a better seller.

6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
Sub Pop and Record Store Day helped me publicize my in store performance of Obits in early April. That was an incredibly fun time! I hope to do more of that in the future. And not to preach to the choir or anything but Matador’s Buy Early Get Now program is an amazingly cool thing to do with retailers. It’s promotions like that that really make the indie retail experience a positive one.

7. Why do we need record stores?
Record stores, besides hopefully making the owner money enough to live his or her life, should provide a service to the community. There’s a level of communication you don’t get from shopping online or just pirating MP3’s. It’s about personally explaining to a kid who’s just discovered the Seattle music scene that there’s a history that cultivated that scene and punk didn’t start at any one band, it’s a growing evolutionary process. Someone influenced Nirvana and someone influenced Iggy & The Stooges. It goes beyond music too. It’s just about creating a better community for people where we can all gather and share tastes and common experiences. It just makes for a richer society.

8. What kind of taco is your favorite?
First of all, thank you for posing this after the last question. I need a breather after that one. Oh, man! I’ve been getting loco on Doritos tacos waaaaay too much. Justin, stop calling me at 2am to get loco! These sad taco parties in the parking lot of Taco Bell have to stop!! We’re grown men for God’s sake!

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
Any and all Billy Childish bands, which band is he in now? I have no idea. How can anyone keep track!? Thee Oh Sees who put on an amazing show in Baltimore not too long ago. And JEFF The Brotherhood. I’m probably annoying my customers by playing all three at every waking hour.

10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
Probably the building itself. It has a beautiful Art Deco movie theatre style facade out front with glass tiles and an amazing marquee that hopefully I can get a band to play on one day. I’m probably going to take the funds from this last Record Store Day and invest it into restoring the signage. I’m heavily biased but I think it’s the most unique building in the city of Annapolis. It’s a privilege to run a store out of it.

11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
Maybe I’m a terrible business owner but I don’t have huge goals. I just want a cool record store that customers appreciate. Anything I can do to facilitate that is both my short term and long term goal.

The Young Are Coming To Chicago

Yea we know it’s hot. It’s July. It’s supposed to be hot. But what better way to beat the heat than with a couple of sweaty rock shows?

So stop taking photos of your car’s thermometer and get your ass over to Permanent Records for a free all ages instore and followed by a show later that night at the Hideout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And if you’re not in the Windy City, check out the band when they come to your town… and maybe even play another instore.

Friday, July 06 – Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class – Info

Saturday, July 07 – Chicago, IL – Permanent Records in-store @ 5:30PMInfo

Saturday, July 07 – Chicago, IL – the Hideout (with Judson Claiborne)Tickets

Sunday, July 08 – Minneapolis, MN – the Triple Rock – Tickets

Monday, July 09 – Fargo, ND – the Aquarium – Tickets

Wednesday, July 11 – Seattle, WA – The Fun House – Tickets

Thursday, July 12 – Portland, OR – the East End – Info

Friday, July 13 – Reno, NV – Holland Project – Info

Saturday, July 14 – Oakland, CA – 1-2-3-4 GO! Records – (with Spray Paint) – Info

Sunday, July 15 – San Francisco, CA – the Hemlock – Info

Monday, July 16 – Bakersfield, CA – Munoz Gym

Tuesday, July 17 – Los Angeles, CA – Origami Vinyl @ 5:15PMInfo

Tuesday, July 17 – Los Angeles, CA – the Echo (with the Lamps and the Zig Zags)Tickets

Wednesday, July 18 – San Diego, CA – M-Theory in-store @ 5:15PMInfo

Wednesday, July 18 – San Diego, CA – the Casbah

Thursday, July 19 – Phoenix, AZ – the Meat Market

Friday, July 20 – Las Cruces, NM – the Train Yard

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 15 – saki

Chicago is arguably one of America’s (and probably the world’s) top two or three cities for independent record stores. Most cities would surely love to have one store on the level of Chicago’s Reckless, Permanent, Dusty Groove or Dave’s, but they’ve got all those and more. And when you throw the relatively young saki into the mix… shiiiiiiiiiiit. Basically if you’re a record goon like us and you’ve never been to ‘Cago (that’s what the locals call it*) you need to get your ass in gear.

I spoke with saki’s guru Adam Hirzel and I must say, I’d be hard pressed to find someone as well versed in record stores as this dude. From Buffalo to LA, from NYC to Australia, he’s been around so it’d likely behoove us to listen.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.
saki is a record store, performance space & art gallery in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Our goal is to further the local music & arts scene in Chicago by providing a space for performance, discussion, appreciation, and yes, sales of music, art, books & anything else we think is “totally awesome.”

2. What got you into the independent record store business?
Carrot Top Records & Carrot Top Distribution have been around for over 15 years as an independent label & distributor in Chicago. saki, the store, is just a continuation of the independent spirit of those companies. In fact, saki has been the name of our mail order site for years. Now it’s just a physical place where we can do so much more than just sell records!

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
We’ll skip the ones in Chicago, because it goes without saying that we love them & what they do for the music & arts community in this city, not to mention that we have employees who have worked at several of those stores in the past. We have a soft spot for Rainbow Books & Music in Delaware. They’re as mom & pop as you can get & they’re really the only decent place left to buy quality records & books in the state of Delaware. Also, our manager, Adam used to be the manager there, so that’s certainly part of it… there are so many others, but Stormy (Dearborn, MI), Rotate This! (Toronto, Canada), Moogy’s Mobile Record Store (Australia), Spiral Scratch (Buffalo, NY), Park Ave (Orlando, FL), all of the Amoebas, Academy in Brooklyn & of course, Other Musi are up there among the favorites.

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
Obviously, having a physical record store, or any retail store, in 2012 is a challenge, but saki has been open for just under two years, so we were well aware of that challenge when we started. I think we’re just starting to get over that two-year hump where things are looking much, much better. Both Record Store Day’s that we’ve been around for have been a huge boon for us. We use that day to highlight the kind of community-involved events that we really do week in and week out. We just do it on a much larger scale for RSD. That always gets us a lot of positive attention. We’re in a city where there were already so many great stores, and there are even a few that opened around the same time as us, and not too far away, so works as both an advantage and disadvantage. People are so accustomed to having great stores in town, that it doesn’t seem so ridiculous to have one more, but a lot of people probably just go to their closest store for regular shopping. Either way, things are looking up and we can’t wait to see how it all works out!

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
I think record stores have to make more of an effort these days to remain relevant as cultural centers and not just retail stores. That’s inherent in saki’s mission to be a performance space where people can gather and appreciate art & music. Hopefully that translates to sales as well, but our main goal is to promote the community. I think you see a lot of stores these days carrying “boutique” items and not just books & music. Shelves full of records are exciting, but in this day & age, I think people want to see something more.

6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
Well, in-stores are essential to what we do, so we appreciate it any time a label helps us to get one of their bands in the store. Most labels will offer us the option to return copies of an item (especially vinyl) that would normally be non-returnable if their artist is playing an in-store. In-stores are a great opportunity to sell a few more copies of a band’s releases, so it works out for both the store and the label. We also love to do ticket giveaways, or special promotions, so it’s always nice when a label is willing to help us out with that and throw us a few guest list spots or some signed items to give away.

7. Why do we need record stores?
Just imagine a world where we can have any music we want available at the click of a button. In many ways that’s already possible, but luckily there are still stores around too where we can have things like in-stores and people can gather to get a little closer to the bands they love, or even just to talk to the person behind the counter about how they share a love of a particular artist. Without record stores, we would all be like the amorphous blobs in Wall-E, scooting around on our little hover chairs, listening to music in our headphones and interacting with the rest of the world on a touchscreen. Again, doesn’t sound that far off from what we already do, sitting in our homes with laptops & iPads, but just imagine that world and imagine not having the ability to go somewhere and interact with a human being. That’s scary! And yeah, I referenced Wall-E…

8. What kind of taco is your favorite?
I haven’t tried that Taco Bell Dorito shell taco, yet, but I’m pretty sure it will be my favorite once I do.

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
A band out of Baltimore called Lands & Peoples just put out a really nice debut LP. It’s limited to 300 copies and we’ve still got a few at saki! I also really like that Lee Fields LP on Daptone’s Truth & Soul imprint & then there’s that El Rego reissue, also on Daptone, that I’ve been spinning in the store a lot lately.

10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
Honestly, I’m kind of conflicted on this, but I guess I like that saki doesn’t look like your typical record store. By that I mean we don’t have a bunch of promo posters all over the wall and stuff like that. It’s a pretty clean & modern looking store. I like that, but I also kind of miss the old-school look too. So, it’s both my favorite and least favorite thing in a way.

11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
We’re already planning on expanding to have more of a “boutique” selection with toys, jewelry & all other sorts of knick-knacks, mostly from local vendors. The next step after that is to put in a small cafe, I think. None of it is official yet, but I’d say the boutique expansion is the short-term goal & the cafe is the long-term. Both short and long though, we just want to sell records and meet awesome people. So far, so good!

*not really

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 14 – Sweat Records

For our 14th Domestic Installation (we’ve had two internationals, but who’s counting?) of our phenomenal, sure-to-be award winning web series, Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer, I rang up Lauren Reskin (or Lolo as she’s known more cordially) of Miami rockstitution Sweat Records to have a chat about her shop, how record stores affect community and whether or not Iggy Pop wears a shirt when he comes into the store.

Lolo is one of the most involved store owners I’ve worked with and I don’t just mean in the scope of her store. This girl is seriously involved in so many different facets of the fast-blossoming Miami scene and I think we’ve all realized that if independent record stores are going to survive, they have to become cultural and community hubs, rather than simply a destination for commerce. There are few people, if any, who seem to embody this ethos more than our pal Lolo.

And let’s face facts. Any store where Iggy Pop shops (scroll down!) on the regular is probably pretty fucking boss.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.
Sweat Records was started in 2005 as a direct response to Miami having a growing indie music scene but no “traditional” indie record store that could be a hub for our geographically spread-out city.  I was (and still am) a DJ and club promoter and saw more and more people coming out to concerts and events, even though back then it was pretty hard to find out about them.  I started Sweat with my best friend Sara who was in law school at the time, she bowed out in ’07 and is now a super kick-ass public defender.  My current team includes Jason “Jsin” Jimenez who throws renowned Miami hip hop and dubstep parties (((SHAKE))) and Get Low, and Emile Milgrim who owns and operates rad record label Other Electricities.  Our shop is in Little Haiti, synergistically located next door to Churchill’s Pub, one of Miami’s most venerable music venues and is often called the CBGB’s of Miami.

2. What got you into the independent record store business?
I was always drawn to music stores and vividly remember going to Spec’s Music when I was a kid and re-organizing any CDs I saw that were out of place.  In middle school a tiny but immaculately-stocked shop called Back Street Records fueled my obsession and stole all my babysitting money.  When I was 16 I got a job and the freshly-opened Miami Virgin Megastore and worked there until I left to open Sweat in early 2005.  Obviously there is a lot more admin involved now, but I still wholly enjoy just hanging out at the counter and talking about music to the random people that come in.

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
Radio-Active Records in Ft. Lauderdale is basically our sister store.  We’re about 25 minutes apart and send each other customers all the time.  They are great guys who are truly passionate about vinyl and they’ve got a great aesthetic.  Other Music in NYC has been a favorite of mine since high school when I would visit to devour their “La Decadanse” section full of French/Japanese/Swedish fantasy pop goodness.

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
Sales have been going up and up and up.  We just dealt with the street in front of our shop being under construction for over 11 months and still had our best year ever (though we seriously hustled).  It is easy to see that more and more people are taking up buying vinyl as a means to get their music (especially because of the free downloads that come with them – thank you labels who do this for getting it!) and not just a hobby, although that’s on the rise as well.

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
You must be integrated with your community, in touch with your customers, tech-y, and responsive to change and suggestions.  After Hurricane Wilma destroyed our first location, we used our forced move as an opportunity to add an event space, as well as a coffee bar and tables so people could use our wi-fi during the day.  We’ve definitely worked online sales too, in 2011 we launched SweatShopMiami.com which sells only our local music, shirts and merchandise.  The sales from that are a nice pad to our bottom line, and it’s awesome to be able to help bands and local artisans take care of their business.  My best advice would be to seek out niches in your cultural community and fill them.

6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
Drag City hooked it up with the “Free Florida” tour that had Bonnie “Prince” Billy doing a series of free shows in record stores in the state, which was completely amazing.  Kudos to them as we’re geographically disadvantaged so we get passed over a lot, even though we have a very healthy concert-going audience down here.  (Labels: MORE IN-STORES, PLEASE!  It shows that artists care about the fans and not just ticket sales.)  I also think Sub Pop’s indie-only “Loser Edition” colored vinyl is rad.

7. Why do we need record stores?
It’s an easy answer but cities suck without them.  I did not want the kids growing up after me in South Florida to miss out on the experience of going into a unique space full of music, posters, odds and ends, etc.  It’s concrete proof that there is a vibrant reality beyond the overwrought mainstream music and lifestyle.

8. What kind of taco is your favorite?
Tofu cubes marinated in fajita spices with lots of guacamole and Cholula.

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
Gotta give some love to these local acts who are totally killing it:  Deaf Poets (hyperactive bluesy garage rock), AXE AND THE OAK (post-punk twang), and Holly Hunt (brain-melting sludge rock).

10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
My favorite thing about our physical store is our art – our whole front outside wall is a two-tone mural of our music heroes by CP1 and it’s been featured on CNN, in music videos, and a ton of other places.  We have other pieces around the shop by AHOLSNIFFSGLUE, the TM Sisters, Federico Nessi & Dino Felipe, famed Little Haiti muralist Serge Toussaint and an insanely amazing saltwater tank installation by marine biology/art collective Morphologic.  The tank is mesmerizing and features these brilliantly colored plooshy round corals that are aptly named “discosoma”.  (P.S. The icons on our wall are Prince, Daft Punk, Iggy Pop, Morrissey, MF Doom, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Aphex Twin, Billie Holiday, Bjork, Serge Gainsbourg, Notorious B.I.G. and two of the Gorillaz.)

11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
Short-term we just finished our third Sweatstock festival (which celebrated our 7th anniversary and RSD 2012) and are working on another similar sort of day fest.  Long-term we basically want Sweat to be around forever.  There’s an independent bookstore chain in Miami called Books & Books that’s open and growing for over 25 years and we take a lot of inspiration from them.  Miami has a really unique sense of community and camaraderie and we want to make sure everything continues on this great upward swing it’s on.

12. When Iggy comes in, does he wear a shirt?
Not always.

*Photos courtesy of TeaJayPhoto

We’re Pretty Sure The Young Love Independent Record Stores

How do we know? Because the dudes are taking time out of their huge North American tour (see below) to play not one, not two, not five but FOUR free, all ages instores along their tour route. Yea dude. Serious shit. In addition to their big release date instore party going down tomorrow at End Of An Ear, The Young will stop by Criminal Records in Atlanta, Permanent Records in Chicago and M-Theory in San Diego for some rock action.  So make sure to stop by and maybe grab yourself an actual Dub Egg.

And if you can’t make it to one of those tons of shows and instores listed below, the band is going to be airing radio sessions on two amazing stations.

This Tuesday June 12 at 9pm Central, tune in to KUT 90.5fm or kut.org. Then on Sunday June 17 at 10pm Central, check them out on KVRX’s Local Live at 91.7fm or kvrx.org.

Friday, June 1 – Austin,TX – Beauty Ballroom (with No Age, Ceremony, Gun Outfit and Joyce Manor)
Saturday, June 9 – McAllen, TX – Simon Sez
Tuesday, June 12 — End of An Ear Release Date In-store (with John Wesley Coleman)
Saturday, June 16 – Austin,TX – 29th Street Ballroom (with Sungod and Spray Paint) (Dub Egg Release Show)
Thursday, June 21 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia
Friday, June 22 – Atlanta, GA – Club 529 (Early instore at Criminal Records)
Saturday, June 23 – Charlotte, NC – Snug Harbor (with White Lung and Meat Group)
Sunday, June 24 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter (with Purling Hiss)
Monday, June 25 – Washington, DC – the Black Cat (backstage) (with Purling Hiss)
Tuesday, June 26 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s (with Purling Hiss)
Wednesday, June 27 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge (late show) (with Purling Hiss)
Thursday, June 28 – Hoboken, NJ – Maxwell’s (with Purling Hiss)
Friday, June 29 – Brooklyn, NY – 285Kent (with Census and Nude Beach)
Saturday, June 30 – New Haven, CT – Intercambio (with Purling Hiss and Estrogen Highs)
Sunday, July 01 – Providence, RI – Dusk (with Purling Hiss)
Monday, July 02 – Boston, MA – Plough and Stars (with Purling Hiss and Saralee)
Tuesday, July 03 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore
Wednesday, July 04 – Toronto, ON – Parts & Labour
Thursday, July 05 – Pittsburgh, PA – Gooski’s (with Kim Phuc)
Friday, July 06 – Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
Saturday, July 07 – Chicago, IL – the Hideout (with Judson Claiborne) (Early instore at Permanent Records)
Sunday, July 08 – Minneapolis, MN – the Triple Rock
Monday, July 09 – Fargo, ND – the Aquarium
Wednesday, July 11 – Seattle, WA – The Fun House
Thursday, July 12 – Portland, OR – the East End
Friday, July 13 – Reno, NV – Holland Project
Saturday, July 14 – Oakland, CA – 1-2-3-4 Go! Records (with Spray Paint and more TBA)
Sunday, July 15 – San Francisco, CA – the Hemlock
Monday, July 16 – Bakersfield, CA – Munoz Gym
Tuesday, July 17 – Los Angeles, CA – the Echo (with the Lamps and the Zig Zags)
Wednesday, July 18 – San Diego, CA – the Casbah (Early instore at M-Theory)
Thursday, July 19 – Phoenix, AZ – the Meat Market
Friday, July 20 – Las Cruces, NM – the Train Yard

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 13 – Treehouse Records

I’ve never been to Minneapolis but there are a few things I’ve always heard; “Dude. It’s way cooler than you’d think!” or “Dude. It’s a big biking city.” or “Dude. When you get up there, you have to check out Treehouse.” So one day, when I make it up there, I will surely ride a bike over to Treehouse. Until then, I’ll just have to take owner Mark Trehus (yes!) at his word. But by the sounds of it, I’m more likely to run into him in New Orleans… read on.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.

We opened on April 1st, 2001.  From 1973 until then, there was a record store called Oar Folkjokeopus in our spot, which I managed from 1986 until its last day (March 31st of 2001).  We have always been a vinyl-heavy store, concentrating mostly on areas of music that myself and my employees are interested in. Like any good indie store, we have everything from Sun Ra to Hank Williams, from the 13th Floor Elevators to Eddie Bo. We have the best vinyl selection in the state, and carry both new and used. (We do carry a few select CDs, but don’t feel particularly proud about doing so.)  We consider ourselves a RECORD store, pure and simple.  We consistently rate among the best record stores in the country by anybody who knows anything.  No brag, just fact. (ED: #humblebrag)

2. What got you into the independent record store business?

Well, with the old adage of Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll being the credo during my misspent younger years, I figured that settling into the latter option would be the one most likely to end up without imprisonment , the nuthouse or suicide. I have loved music and have collected records since pre-adolescence. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up, and I just turned 57!

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?

My favorite stores are Peoples Records in Detroit, Michigan, Mississippi Records in Portland, Oregon, and Domino Sound in New Orleans, Louisiana.  All three stores are owned by true music lovers, all 20 years or so my juniors.  The owners and their employees are all very lovely and righteous people, and I am proud and happy to call them my friends.  All of them value love over gold, as do I, and that is what binds us together and soulfully.

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?

I am very fortunate in that regard, as I have other ventures which augment my income.  My store was in the black last year, but a little in the red the previous one.  This year, in a nice turn of events, we have done very, very well–at least by new millennium standards, anyway.  We seem to be back on track toward becoming more profitable again. I hope we have weathered the storm.

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?

I don’t believe that there is an easy answer for that.  In this day and age, it seems that all independent record stores need to have a little something extra. For some folks, like Aquarius in San Francisco, it is a strong internet presence.  For Domino Sound in New Orleans, it is having a cheap storefront in a relatively-low income area–coupled with a relaxed, non-extravagant lifestyle. For Mississippi Records, it’s a positive attitude, and an unwavering trust in the basic humanity of people to do right–if you do right unto them too.  And so on and so on.  For me, I am blessed in that I own my own building, have employees who have forsaken personal gain in order to keep Treehouse alive, and have a strong community of loyal, vinyl-loving customers spiritually and soulfully.

6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?

In a general sense, the best thing that labels can do for us is to give us (independent stores) records that (a), people actually WANT, and (b), that they can only get from shopping at an independent store.  While many larger labels are unnecessarily fearful of biting the proverbial hand that feeds, smaller labels are offering in-store appearances, price breaks, limited editions or special packaging, etc., by artists that our customers demand.  Specifically, in recent memory, Van Dyke Parks (who has his own small label for his own records) did an in-store with us this month.  This utterly blew my fucking mind!  I mean, come on, VAN DYKE PARKS in our 100-capacity store in the heart of the godforsaken Midwest?  It’s stuff like that that makes me happy that I never went to law school.

7. Why do we need record stores?

Because the soul is being sucked out of our lives by computers and big business. Obtaining music via illegal downloads or on-line sources not only deprives musicians and/or record stores a means to make a living, but more importantly, robs the consumer of an organic, fundamentally-nurturing aspect of the whole gestalt of the music-appreciation process.  Hearing music on an mp3 file on your computer isn’t the same as LISTENING to music. I feel sorry for these fucking kids who don’t get that! The soul is nurtured by listening to RECORDS, on analog equipment, that are (hopefully) bought at a brick-and-mortar, independent, music-loving establishment and listened to AT HOME, on a STEREO SYSTEM.  It is a necessary component of being part of something much, much bigger.  That “something” is a little big to properly define in this small space, but it involves nothing less than the saving of one’s own soul, and keeping one’s integrity in the face of an increasingly greedy and destructive element of society, one which threatens to keep us in check, and to imprison those of us who wish to stay human and t0 love our neighbor as we do ourselves.  The personal and the political truly ARE one and the same, aren’t they?

8. What kind of taco is your favorite?

There is nothing better than authentic tacos al pastor, of course, with a nice red chili pepper salsa.  Is that a trick question? (ED: No)

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?

Impossible to answer, you know that! But, we’ll say Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Bob Dylan & his band, and whoever I am next going to hear perform live (cuz live music is best!).  Oh, and everybody who records for Matador Records, of course. (ED: Of course.)

10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”

I have a job where I can walk in the door, and there are ALWAYS some pieces of music–new or used, usually both–to listen to for the first time.  I think that many people go to work where at best they hope to merely survive the day.  I get to have fun because even my “work” is enjoyable.  I feel truly blessed to be in this position, and if it all ends tomorrow, I have had one hell of a run.

11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.

Short term, to get through the collection of 6000 records I just bought!  Long term, to get by until I am of retirement age, and then I will decide to sell the store and/or building, or otherwise cash in my chips and move to New Orleans.  There, I plan to open Treehouse Saturday Records.  Treehouse Saturday Records will be in a building that I will buy, will likely live above or in back of, and will be open only on Saturdays.  There, I will have an espresso machine, a cooler full of cold beverages, and records that I have gleaned out of my personal collection for the past week, leading up to that Saturday.  I will use money earned in order to eat copious amounts of jambalaya, etoufee, and gumbo, for the rest of my life, getting even fatter, listening to my records, hanging out with music lovers and enjoying great live music, in the city that I love above and beyond all others.

Paul Banks – Julian Plenti Lives… EP moved to June 26

Heads up to all who have ordered, or are planning on ordering, the Paul Banks Julian Plenti Lives… EP has been moved back to June 26. You should also act fast if you’re going to buy, this 10″ (limited to 2,300) and gold CD (limited to 1,800) is about to sell out on the Matador Store with only 50 copies of the CD still up for grabs. It’s also 15% off through release date, so what are you waiting for???

Shake The Dub Egg

Sometimes we sit around in our marketing brainstorms and wonder what we can do to pull a merch item out of an album campaign to give to our trusty local independent retailers. Often we hit it out of the park. Certain things like our Early Man Condoms or Preston School Of Industry Monsoon Ponchos were instant classics. Still some others just never really stuck, like the time we did the Pavement “Rattle(d By The Rush) Snakes” and had to deal with all of those pesky snakebite victim lawsuits or when we sent record stores envelopes full of actual “Lucky Dirt.”

So when you’ve got an album coming called Dub Egg what better to make than Dub Eggs?

The percussionally inclined of you may recognize an egg shaker when you see one, but surely you’ve never seen a Matador’d egg shaker.
So when you’re out shopping for Dub Egg – the new album from The Young – look out for these at a local indie retailer near you. They’re pretty much the best merch item we’ve made since our Bardo Pond Bongs.

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 12 – Dave’s Records

Chicago is arguably the best city in America when it comes to record shopping. It seems that in nearly every neighborhood there is at least one really, really fantastic store you absolutely have to check out. Some specialize in focus on hip hop, jazz and funk (the venerable Dusty Groove) while others are a destination for psych records (the previously profiled Permanent Records). And then of course, there are the few Second City retailers that focus solely on vinyl, the best of which (in my humble yet professional estimation) is Dave’s Records. I spoke with Dave’s owner Dave Crain about his love of vinyl, looking toward the future and how some people still use Myspace. I really loved Dave’s enthusiasm and his unique take on things, especially when he said, “We are the temples of musical nirvana trying not to become museums.” Read on.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.

This store has been in the neighborhood since 1976. It was called 2nd Hand tunes and I began working here for the original owner in 1985. He sold it to an internet company called Django’s  in 1999 and by 2002 they went bankrupt. Out of the bankruptcy, I bought the vinyl half of the Clark Street location from the company that bought the Django’s assets. I changed the name to the very clever Dave’s Records on Labor Day September 1, 2002. We have been concentrating on vinyl only (7″/ 12″/ LP/EP/ and even some 78’s) since the beginning. The sign on the door says “No CD’s! Never Had ’em!! Never Will!!” We carry an ever changing stock of approximately 40,000 NEW and USED titles. We are a store for the browsing class. If you enjoy wading through the racks, we are your kind of store. But if you need one thing and want to get in and out, we are organized and know our stock availability. After 10 years of labor as the owner, the decision to remain all vinyl has been key to our ability to stay in business. We are an old school store for the new generation that is discovering the wonders of vinyl.

2. What got you into the independent record store business?

As a kid, I tried desperately to get a record store job. I finally got a job in a chain store in Woodfield Mall when vinyl was still the main format and cassettes were about to take over. It was a very corporate environment. Even if I customers were actively requesting something, if it wasn’t in the Top 25 or a sanctioned deep catalogue item, we could not order it even if it was available. It was a frustrating environment with a dress code as well. The district manager and I were at odds over my tri-color Chuck Taylors so I began to look elsewhere. I saw and ad in the back of the Reader and the timing was right because I got a call from the owner who needed some help in the Hyde Park location for some remodeling. I said I could start right away and on the Saturday I started I knew it was the right fit. We were selling James Brown, Funkadelic, Roxy Music and not the latest Night Ranger.

 

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?

Chicago and the surrounding area is fortunate that there are so many great stores. Ones of note that I like in Chicago are Permanent Records, Dusty Groove, Reckless Records, Jazz Record Mart and in the suburbs Val’s Halla Records (Oak Park) and The Old School Records (Forest Park). In the books & record department Shake, Rattle and Read (Chicago) and Squeezebox Books and Music (Evanston). I have seen a lot of stores come and go over the years. When I started here on Clark Street 27 years ago there were 8 stores (CD and record) within a 4 block radius. I admire anyone who can last.

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?

After a pretty touch and go time through the economic downturn, things seem to be rebounding. This generation embracing or at least acknowledging vinyl has been the biggest factor. In the 1990’s, kids that loved music would put there head in the door and see that it was only vinyl and turn right back around. The advent of including the download was a game changing event because then you wouldn’t have to make 2 purchases to get it digitally. Matador was at the forefront of that, so thanks! After this Record Store Day, I would say I am very optimistic. Through the economic downturn I was staying cautiously optimistic after each Record Store Day. Let’s throw caution to the wind and be optimistic!

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?

The survival of an independent store is tied to having an identity. Our identity is vinyl. We live it. We breathe it. And when Jack White makes the edible limited Third Man Record, we will eat it and have musical toots! All record stores that survive know who they are and who there customers are. If you are unsure of that, you make missteps and try to be something that you are not and slowly lose what you originally had. When you walk in Dave’s Records, you know that we are broad based in genres. There is nothing we won’t carry if think we can sell it. Everyday we try and make this the store that I would’ve liked to come into when I was beginning to get musically literate. Endless possibilities to dream and reach for. Classical-Yes! Reggae- Yes! Vocal-Yes! Hip Hop-Yes! Metal-Yes! Folk-Yes! Country-Yes! Rock-Of Course Yes! Jazz-Yes! Soul-Yes! Klezmer-Yes! You name it on vinyl and we try to say a loud and hearty YES!!!! We like being a YES store. We may not always have it in stock but we are always trying and at some point have we had it in the store-Yes! CD’s on the other hand-not so much!

6. What are some of the coolest things labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?

Record Store Day is really the biggest instore thing we do. We aren’t really set up for instores in this space. Last year we had the band “I Was Really Destroying It” for Record Store Day and that was great. This year though we reached capacity and I don’t think it would be possible to squeeze a band in. We are always open to new things but the records are our main focus day in and day out. I keep my eye on the spinning black circle. I been hypnotized!

7. Why do we need record stores?

We need record stores to fulfill our musical dreams in real time. Looking at internet pages of product and clicking a button even on our rarest desired record and then receiving a package days later will never replace flipping through a bin and discover that same thing – or even better something you never imagined – and walking home with it. That is what a record store does; it moves our imagination from what we already know. Artwork of a band you don’t know or a song on the stereo that perks your ears up and makes you say, “What is THIS?” is the real world brick and mortar experience. We are the temples of musical nirvana trying not to become museums. We are a space for the living passage of music from generation to generation.

8. What kind of taco is your favorite?

Breakfast taco, naturally! After I got back from SXSW in Austin I started each day with one bacon and one chorizo breakfast taco.

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?

Top 3 newer albums I can’t get off the turntable would be The Explorers Club – Grand Hotel, First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar, Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now

10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”

My favorite thing about having a store is selling someone a record and having them say “You made my day!”. Having someone type Great Seller A++++ is not the same. My favorite thing about the physical store space is the smell of vinyl. I love the smell of vinyl in the morning. It smells like VICTORY!

11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.

Short term my goal is to more effectively use social media. Since the second year of Record Store Day, we began with MySpace (I’m older, OK), then we moved to Facebook, then we set up a blog on WordPress, and before this SXSW, I got a smartphone and set up a Twitter account. Like most things they are only tools and I am just figuring out how to efficiently use them to get info out to customers. Balancing it with running the store is the hard part. Long term is to keep the store open. Some goals are always the same.

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 11 – Redscroll Records

A few notes on Wallingford, Connecticut. Roughly 43,000 people live there, making it Connecticut’s 23rd most populous community. Both Morton Downey and his namesake, Morton Downey, Jr were Wallingfordians. That really great movie Riding In Cars With Boys partly takes place in Wallingford. And that was pretty much all I could find. Well, that and the fact that it’s home to Redscroll Records, one of the raddest stores around. I spoke with store owner Rick about running a his store in a pretty awesome community. I especially like the part where he says “There are lots of great stores around these days.” Because that shit is truth.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.
Redscroll opened it’s doors as a physical store (more on that later) on April 12, 2007. We focus on “Underground Music & Culture” with a heavy slant towards the vinyl record format. We do carry a lot of things that might not be (and many that definitely wouldn’t be) considered “underground” and we also carry compact discs and assorted ephemera (DVDs, t-shirts, books, posters, turntables, record care accessories…). Used and new. Y’ know, a record store.

2. What got you into the independent record store business?
Redscroll Records started as a label to put out a few friends’ releases. That turned into a small distro that went show to show (punk and hardcore around CT mostly). About 6 years ago that distro got to be too much to handle so Josh Carlson (the guy who started the label) asked his friend Rick Sinkiewicz (that’s me; I’m talking in third person here) to open a store with him. We’ve now been open as a physical shop since April 12th of 2007 and we’ve been doing nothing but growing (to the point of being a bit over full).

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
Once a year we make a pilgrimage to Baltimore for the Maryland Death Fest. We actually spend maybe 1/3 of our time at the actual fest (which is great by the by). We’ve developed a good relationship with a few of the stores down there. Own Guru (a CT ex-pat) was great when we first discovered that by following a sign that led you down a narrow alley to a little hobble full of records beyond an unkempt garden. He eventually grew into a second shop and I believe he only has the second shop now. I have to admit I miss that first one and the amount of moving and actual digging you had to do to find the treasures. It was satisfying. Celebrated Summer is a great spot in the back of a comic book shop specifically for punk, hardcore and what used to be called alternative (indie?). True Vine is great for left of center more esoteric record shopping. I’ve personally found the most treasures for myself in True Vine. We have a small love affair with the Baltimore area record stores. Atomic Books is great too and I end up browsing books just as much as records. Double Decker in Allentown, PA is another favorite. We’ve done more trades with Double Decker than with anyone else and Jaime
(the owner) is seriously one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever encountered. Armageddon Shop in Providence and now with a second shop in Boston also rules. We could go on and on with this one. There are lots of great stores around these days.

4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
Being a young store and having opened when physical music formats were already in decline we’ve really experienced nothing but growth. We’re able to cut weekly checks, have no debt and are constantly expanding.

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
Play on your strengths. We love music. We listen to it a lot and to a lot of it. We don’t listen to everything. Nobody does no matter how many people espouse to. I hold only surface knowledge of calliope music for instance. We carry a ton of more modern (60s and up – but generally even more modern than that) 7″s, but I’m not going to risk
spending money on a collection of doo-wop that could theoretically hold a golden ticket because I just don’t know much about it. On the other side of that coin I grew up listening to tons of college radio (mostly the Wesleyan University station WESU) which opened me up to lots of weird avenues that aren’t all related. Josh and I met in the
punk/hardcore community and he has a wealth of knowledge within that. There’s crossover between our two tastes of course and we don’t confine the store to just what we like, but it is reflected. We know some stuff, but not nearly everything of course. We play to our strengths.

6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
We’ve done some contests and whatnot, but really the coolest thing labels can do is put out great music for us to turn people on to. It’s really cool when labels discover us rather than the other way around. I’m constantly on the hunt for new music in diverse corners of the music world so when other people are doing that and discover us
it’s pretty flattering. I don’t want to mention any particular label because I’ll likely leave another equally deserving one out. As far as in-stores, we’ve had a bunch of bands play and it’s always fun, but it’s not yet been because of a label reaching out to us.

7. Why do we need record stores?
We don’t need them like water or shelter, but they’re fun so try to keep your local one around.

8. What kind of taco is your favorite?
Black beans, seitan, rice, olives, lettuce, guacamole. Fun fact: we’re both vegan.

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
Josh: Nightbitch, Living Laser, & Snake Oil (keeping it local!)
Rick: Cowards, Trust, Legowelt (this will change by the time I hit return)

10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
When I was a kid I collected baseball cards and loved drawing. I drew my fair share of what I considered to be my dream baseball card shop – mostly designed to look like a baseball diamond. I still like baseball, but not nearly as much as music. This shop is entirely the fulfillment of the further truth of my childhood dream (deep, right). Now I just have to get it to look like a baseball diamond with a stage in the center.

11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
Expansion. Further expansion.

Lee Ranaldo Playing Instores, Reading Poetry

You’d be hard pressed to find a dude who loves independent record stores as much as Lee Ranaldo. Rumor has it Lee is calling all sorts of indie shops around the country just to say wassup.

So it should come as no surprise that in the coming weeks, Lee will be stopping in two of our favorite record stores to play some songs for the locals. First, he’ll be playing at Durham, NC mainstay Bull City on Monday May 14 (in advance of his May 15 show at the Duke Coffeehouse). The following Monday May 21 finds Lee at Bloomington, IN’s Landlocked Music for a short performance and a reading of his poem ‘Bloomington, Indiana: Autumn.’ That’s pretty fitting.

Get To Know Your Local Independent Retailer Vol. 10 – Easy Street Records

In a city that is known for its music, surely there has to be some absolutely amazing places to find some great records. Well in Seattle there are many of those places but the only one who responded to our query about being profiled in our epic webseries about record stores was Easy Street Records. I spoke with owner Matt Vaughan about his love of discovering new records and getting drunk in bars.

1. Tell us briefly about your store.
2 stores, 1st store opened in ‘87 when I was 19 yrs old, moved it to bigger location in ‘89. With Seattle music booming, we opened our doors the same year as Sub Pop, if that gives you an idea of what was in the air. By ‘97 we took over space next door, held after-hour shows/instores (Mudhoney, Rocket From Crypt, Luna). In ‘99 we converted it to a full service café and diner. Three years later we opened 2nd store, our downtown location (6,000) sq feet, 3 blocks away from Tower Records. Grand Opening Week featured instores by Paul Westerberg, Elvis Costello, Jack Johnson. We’ve gone on to host over 500 instores at this location. We were recognized for some cool award winning displays and our huge 20 foot hand-painted murals outside and the 10 foot billboards inside the stores. We like to help break and develop new bands, that’s what we do. For 10 years we’ve been the onsite retailer at the annual Sasquatch Festival.


 

2. What got you into the independent record store business?
My mother was an independent radio promoter in late 70’s-80’s, working with labels such as Casablanca, Arista, MCA. Also, my mom’s husband at the time had 12,000 records (out of order). I took it upon myself one summer when I was 12 years old to alphabetize them. I became a record junkie at a young age, worked at two different stores, from age 13-18. Both stores went out of business around same time, I put the owners together, I assumed the debt and consolidated the two stores into one.

3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
Euclid, Streetlight, Music Millenium, Waterloo, Luna, Vacation


4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
We can’t go deep into new catalog anymore, something we once prided ourselves on. The titles are either unavailable, one way, or they sit for too long. Margins are getting better, but the volume of sales are down. On huge titles, what once would’ve sold 3,000 copies in a year, now sells 1,000.

5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
Small, niche, community involvement, store design/aesthetic, quick used turns, more than fair prices, tech savvy and progressive, buying power.

6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
Street date instores; Cave Singers, Shins, Band of Horses, Head and the Heart, Brandi Carlisle.

7. Why do we need record stores?
Gathering place for like minded people, instinct, awareness, community support. We need healthy places like this, otherwise we’ll all be getting drunk at bars talking about the good ol’ days of when a record store was in this space.

8. What kind of taco is your favorite?
Fish tacos

9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
Real Estate, Viva Voce, Pickwick

10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
Riding my bike in, grabbing a coffee from our coffee bar, looking at new release wall, pricing some used vinyl, being surprised by a new record.

11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
More collaboration with like minded businesses. More vinyl bins.

 

Yo La Tengo Free All Ages Cali Instore

Sometimes we here at Matador HQ just have a habit of booking a shitload of instores at once. Call it motivation (or simply doing my job) on my part but here’s another one to add to your calendars. Yo La Tengo are hitting the road this spring and on Wednesday May 2 at 2:30pm they’ll be stopping in Santa Rosa, CA’s The Last Record Store for a super intimate, free, all ages instore performance.

You probably shouldn’t miss this one. But if you should, you can catch the band that night at Mystic Theatre in Petaluma (a town name that always kinda reminds me of This Island Earth).