Monday, June 06, 2011

the death of media

I visited a record store recently. I probably shouldn't have. Confirmed a lot of things I'd only suspected. I arrived with a couple cases of assorted CDs, and a few of every other media format except vinyl. I carted this into a vinyl mecca that also sells the rest. This was my first foray into enthusiast territory in years. Since I decamped from Arlington, in fact.

The short version is media is dead. Pretty much completely. Sure, rare collectibles remain rare collectibles, but anything else is now worthless. Applies to all forms of vinyl, all forms of videotape, cassettes, and every other format up to and (already) including DVDs. There's a market for used DVDs, still, but it's pennies-on-the-dollar compared to what it used to be, and effectively dead. The more obscure the format, however, the higher the floor on prices. Aficionados will want media to play on vintage gear, and keeping a stock of obscure media is proportionately profitable to the rarity. Keep a stock of cylinder recordings, they'll sell for a high price, as they're rare collectibles. Keep a stock of mainline catalog LPs and 45s, and the rent on the space they occupy will eat you alive. By volume, 8-track tapes are the last profitable aftermarket, and that presumes you have the knowledge, skills, and materials to effect repairs. By weight, CDs and DVDs still sell, and they are, at least compact.

So out of two cases of stuff, he's interested in less than a dozen pieces, and I leave with most of my stuff, and a couple of mint european singles in trade. Much better informed, and saddened.

A lot of the joy of collecting used to be the difficulty of acquisition, and the comparative rarity of everything other than standard catalog items. Getting an early copy of the latest cult single, or better yet, getting the special package colored-vinyl release because you knew they guy at the store. Today is not without it's premium packages or promos, but it's not the same. Oh well, at least one more time, I was able to validate that yes, I can still maintain witty record store banter on an expert level. However little that will ever matter again, sadly.

No comments:

Post a Comment