August 21, 2006
Over at ionarts, jfl has a post on the "sad news" that Tower Records is filing for bankruptcy. That's a shame -- I guess. A decade ago you could always pass an interesting hour or two browsing the classical section of their DC store, which (as jfl points out) was pretty impressive in its day.
But frankly, there's a whole lot more to celebrate than to mourn. Buying music online is so preferable in every way that it's hard to work up any real tears over TR's possible demise. I've bought hundreds of hours of music in the past year, but only set foot in Tower once -- and that was just to escape a downpour a few months ago.
And honestly? It just felt ... totally obsolete. Stand around listening to snippets through greasy headphones that never work? How pleasant! Confine yourself to whatever the store happens to have on the shelves, instead of the limitless depths of Amazon? Very sensible. Rely on the advice of a salesperson, rather than accessing a thousand points of view online? Riiiiiiight. Buy a whole CD when you only want one piece? Hey -- thanks!
The brave new world of online music is here, and I think most of us have never been happier. What's more satisfying than coming across a reference online to a particular piece, getting curious about it -- and then being able to instantly download it for a few pennies? (I use emusic a lot -- you can download their vast inventory for about 20 cents a track, with no DRM.) I'm feeling deliriously rich, with this near-infinite supply of recordings at my fingertips for a fraction of what I used to spend. Not to mention the expanding universe of reviews, recommendations and suggestions from the musical cyber-community.
OK sure -- MP3's have their quality issues. But recordings are mostly for study anyway. And I'm absolutely ecstatic that it's finally possible for virtually anyone, anywhere, to dive into the world of classical music and explore it at a non-prohibitive cost. It's the single best thing that could have happened, and I'm betting it will invigorate the music community in ways we can barely forsee.
So, farewell, Tower Records -- R.I.P.