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Shunning Digital Downloads, A Record Store Opens In New York

posted 25 Nov 2013, 16:23 by Mpelembe   [ updated 25 Nov 2013, 16:24 ]

In the midst of - or in spite of the digital age - an old school record store opens in New York City.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (NOVEMBER 25, 2013) (REUTERS) - It's no secret. It's a digital age. Music and other entertainment options are all available via Internet downloads.

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Thus, over the past few years, many brick-and-mortar records stores have closed shop.

In 2006, global music retailer Tower Records went bankrupt. A few years later, Virgin Megastore closed all of its stores in the UK, FranceGermanyIrelandSpain, US, CanadaAustralia and Japan and now operates mostly in the Middle East.

But now, in an attempt to buck the trend, British-based music retailer Rough Tradehas staged a record store comeback and has opened a new store in the New York City borough of Brooklyn on Monday (November 25).

Rough Trade's New York owners said they are putting a new spin on the concept of a music store.

"A music store, a record store is far more than simply being a place of purchase. It's a place, it's a hangout for people of all ages and tastes to congregate and celebrate music as an art form and not simply a commodity," said Stephen Godfroy, Co-owner of Rough Trade.

He added, "When you come into this store, you won't see price messages or offer messages. This is about music, the kaleidoscopic nature of it and music as an experience. So there are things in this store that are conducive to a record store being a place to hang out. So, we have a cafe which serves hot food and drink from the local, fantastic restaurant Five Leaves in Greenpoint. We have a dedicated venue space for 250 capacity which has a balcony seating and a full bar that enables us to put on live events most nights of the week, not simply live bands performing, but also screenings, Q&As, workshops. As I say it's a real community hub."

New York City's Rough Trade is located in a massive 15,000 square foot (1,394 square meter) converted warehouse. It also has an art exhibition space and music listening posts.

To some, the idea of opening a retail record store may seem like a business risk since most people now purchase music with a computer.

Indeed, according to Nielsen SoundScan and Nielsen BDS, during the first six months of 2013, digital album sales were up 6.3 percent.

But during the same time period, Nielsen reported vinyl LP sales were up 33.5 percent.

Some shoppers at Rough Trade said vinyl LPs have always been the best way to buy music.

"I grew up with it. I have my parents collection. It's in my blood. It's how I shop for records," said Sky.

Visiting college students T.J. and Rachel are just learning to appreciate vinyl records.

"We've got some friends who are really into vinyl now and they are starting to get us into it. They always rave about how it's better quality and they just really like that feel of having it in your hands versus you just getting it online," said T.J. explaining the trend.

Rachel said she just liked the "feel" of vinyl.

"Just actually picking up the album and like scoping it out and really getting a feel for it, rather than just seeing it online."

While not totally ignoring digital technology, Rough Trade also houses a room sponsored by the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper. Inside the "Guardian Green Room", shoppers can engage the music community via Twitter and other message services, as well as read Guardian content, such as its music and culture articles and music reviews.

Remixing old school music formats with new digital social media, Rough Tradesaid it hopes to be a destination for a new generation of music lovers.