Want: Music. Not want: CD. Want: Support local music stores. How?
July 28, 2013 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good way to support local music stores if I don't have any interest in purchasing physical media (e.g. CDs, LPs)?

I have long since switched my entire music collection to digital, and I admit that the convenience of purchasing music on the iTunes store (including iTunes match) is wonderful. It's instantly on all of my devices, there's no carrying binders full of discs, etc. etc.

That said, I feel incredibly guilty about walking into a local music store (and there seem to a be a few good ones in my new neighbourhood), listening to a few albums to figure out what I want, and buying them online. Obviously this isn't fair for the local store.

However, I don't want to walk out of the store with a physical copy of anything. I'd like to go in, pay some money for a digital copy, and walk out happy. How can I do this? I suppose that I could buy the CD, rip it, and sell it back used, but somehow this feels like I'm cheating someone as well.

Is there a good solution to this problem? Music store owners? Anyone?
posted by vernondalhart to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Most of them sell tickets for live performances. If you're going to go to a show, buy your ticket there.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:20 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Independent music stores in my area are big into (1) records and the sale of record players, (2) the sale of tickets to musical events in the area, and (3) the sale of material produced by local artists. Any of those things appeal to you?

Other than those things? Well, you've described the problem with the digital age, depending, of course, on how you see things.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 1:20 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

(2) Seems reasonable, but both (1) and (3) are exactly that which I do not want. I don't want physical media, I just want to support my local stores!
posted by vernondalhart at 1:31 PM on July 28, 2013

Buy the CD, rip it, and then give it to a friend?
posted by incessant at 1:48 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do you have any skills you could use to help the store? Mural or window painting? Web design? Social media skills?

Alternatively, do you have friends you can bring to the store who might be more likely to purchase physical media?

If they've got a tip jar, you could use it. If not you could ask if they'd put one out.
posted by jeffch at 1:50 PM on July 28, 2013

I suppose that I could buy the CD, rip it, and sell it back used, but somehow this feels like I'm cheating someone as well.

I don't understand how that is cheating someone.
posted by milarepa at 1:52 PM on July 28, 2013

If you purchase one copy of something (a CD), then turn it into two copies, and sell one, then you are in fact doing something illegal (and unethical) -- if you hadn't created a new copy of the item, then the artist might have sold an additional copy (you could have purchased a second copy to give as a gift; the person who buys your used CD might have purchased a non-duplicated CD, etc.). You're suposed to delete all digital copies if you sell/give away the CD.

It's interesting that people are confused about this now. Please read up on it if you are still confused -- I know my explanation above is lacking in clarity.
posted by amtho at 1:57 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is why I bought a record player. I don't buy very many albums, but it's a nice option to have. New albums usually come with a digital download, so I have both the physical album and also it's in iTunes as well. Old albums obviously don't, but except for a few specific situations I mostly buy older albums for a couple bucks just for the experience/novelty factor. (The "few specific situations" are mostly covered by collecting specific eras of Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones records.)

I spent about $150 on a player. I own under 100 albums, and anytime the numbers start to creep up, I get rid of a few, usually by donating them to a thrift store.
posted by Sara C. at 2:08 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you want to buy an iTunes card from a local store. The only places I know carry iTunes cards and similar are large chain stores (Walmart, Target, grocery stores, etc). Small, local stores sell stuff - CDs, t-shirts, posters, tickets, records, etc - but not usually iTunes cards. Or at least, I don't recall seeing iTunes cards the last time I went to a local store. If you don't want stuff, I'm not sure how (or why) you would support them.

As sevensnowflakes said above, you've described the basic problem with digital media. If you get your media digitally, there is no reason to include a store in that transaction. You can even bypass the store altogether by streaming or previewing on websites or from inside iTunes. It's a difficult time to be a brick-and-mortar store for music (and books... and newspapers... and magazines....)
posted by rakaidan at 2:08 PM on July 28, 2013

That said, I feel incredibly guilty about walking into a local music store (and there seem to a be a few good ones in my new neighbourhood), listening to a few albums to figure out what I want, and buying them online. Obviously this isn't fair for the local store.

I agree, it isn't fair to the store. I'm not even sure why you'd want to do it, if you're so immersed in the digital world: can't you sample the music online instead? If you want to support the local stores, buy their products. Personally, I like buying CDs, even though I mostly just import them into my iPod. It's still useful to have a backup, and I'm more trusting of CDs than digital downloads to give me the complete, top-quality product. (I get most of music from eMusic, not CDs — but I often read eMusic reviews complaining that the downloads are from a different album, or that there are tracks missing, etc.) And not everything ever recorded is on iTunes or eMusic, so it's not like there's always a choice to buy something online instead of on CD. (For a long time, you couldn't buy the Beatles on iTunes!) I also like owning the whole packaging and keeping it in my apartment to be able to look at.

But I take it you don't care about any of those things. You aren't interested in having any of the store's products. If that's the case, then I don't understand why you'd even care about supporting the stores. I mean, what good do you think the store is doing, if you're not buying its products? If you just want the store to exist for other people to be able to buy its goods, my advice is: do nothing. Let the store and those other customers make those transactions on their own, and leave yourself out of it entirely.
posted by John Cohen at 2:26 PM on July 28, 2013

Can you buy CDs or records to give as gifts? I do a lot of Christmas shopping at a local music store.
posted by corey flood at 2:29 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are a few independent bookstores that sell books for digital devices. If you can't support your local music store because they don't have such a program, you may be able to find a music store that both has a presence in a community as a brick-and-mortar that also sells digital content.
posted by jenlovesponies at 2:47 PM on July 28, 2013

buy the CDs, rip them, then donate them to your public library.
posted by cupcake1337 at 3:03 PM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Tip. Don't ask, just put $5 somewhere - in a jar, in someone's hand. Just an idea, I haven't tried it.

I do wish stores like this, and some cafés, provided a way to give them money for their non-retail-markup services.
posted by amtho at 4:19 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

well...you might consider that a song off a CD is not the same as a streamed or mp3 version.

If that matters to you, buy a CD for arguably more 'true' sound and rip it yourself to mp3 for lofi systems like computers/portable players.

this is answering the question...if anyone wants to start an audiophile flamewar, please go elsewhere
posted by j_curiouser at 5:19 PM on July 28, 2013

I buy the cd, rip it, and then either donate or gift it. My local store also sells tons of other stuff that I buy for gifts, such as t-shirts, posters, stickers, books, and gift certificates.
posted by raisingsand at 7:45 PM on July 28, 2013

Is there a good solution to this problem? Music store owners?

It's been a very long time. I watched the industry go from selling CDs (and cassettes and MiniDiscs—okay, nobody actually bought the MiniDiscs) to using CDs as a loss-leader in order to sell candy, toys, and Pokémon cards that were actually profitable. In Boston and New York, Virgin moved all their CDs to one floor because they were anticipating getting rid of them altogether within two years. (Instead, they just closed both stores.)

I have more sentiment than most people can relate to, about music stores. But today, my shopping habits are like yours. I used to buy five, ten CDs a week. I own thousands. It's July and I've bought one this year.

Music stores are going away. My kids won't browse the aisles as teenagers the way I did. It suuuucks and I'm not okay with it...but I'm mostly okay with it, you know? Life is change. This is a change that needs to happen, and it already has. Ask Best Buy how many home-audio CD players they sell. Walk over to the car audio section, and see how many of those CD players don't have MP3 or USB capability.

I would love, love to support local music stores. I spent more years sinking more money into them than I can count. But I stopped, and so should you. Do you know why? Because Danny DeVito's Gordon Gekko speech in Other People's Money is dead-fuckin'-right. It makes me sad but money doesn't grow on trees and I'm not going to bleed my wallet in grief.
posted by cribcage at 12:13 AM on July 29, 2013

I support local music stores by buying records, which often come with digital download codes, as has been mentioned. It's also really fun to browse the record stores in other towns when visiting.

That said, I'd be lying like crazy if I said the internet hasn't supplanted a lot of my "go to the local music store and see if they have the new _x_" urges. I often order LPs from the internet, directly from the labels. I typically just go to the record stores when I want to be surprised by an album I forgot about but just have to own, etc.

If you don't want physical items at all, yes - why aren't you previewing music online? Some sites, such as bandcamp.com, will let you listen to full albums before buying. iTunes only gives you 30 second samples but if you are going the iTunes route, I bet rollingstone/spin/pitchfork/npr will offer the album for streaming (for a time) if it's any sort of highish-profile release.
posted by destructive cactus at 4:22 PM on July 29, 2013

I understand wanting to support your local music store. Such stores have been and continue to be important to me, and I like to encourage their existence and their contribution to the ambience of the local community. I buy most of my music from the local music store, even though I could get it cheaper online in almost every instance.

I suppose that I could buy the CD, rip it, and sell it back used, but somehow this feels like I'm cheating someone as well.

Why don't you buy the CD, rip it, then recycle the case, inlay and disc? That way, you're getting the music, you're supporting the store you bought it from, and you're not cheating anyone.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:42 PM on July 31, 2013

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