Your local music economy is under threat from unreliable distribution controlled by the major labels. This makes it hard for local record stores to stock the stuff you want, negatively impacting their businesses while also taking money out of the pockets of artists.
A week ago, I stopped by Music Millennium and sat down with the venerable Terry Currier, supporter of this magazine (and so many other local creators and their endeavors) since day one—see the proof below. For an hour, he spoke about the biggest crisis facing record stores in the history of recorded music.
Three major labels control 70 percent of the global music industry. In America, all Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group releases are distributed by Direct Shot. Since April 2019, Direct Shot has failed to adequately supply retailers, meaning the records you want may not be available in stores on release day.
Local record stores (and even big-box retailers as well as Amazon) are not able to stock wide swaths of the most in-demand titles, hurting local businesses (because who else besides independent records stores really stocks a comprehensive selection of music these days?) and making artists lose money. In November, Tegan and Sara even shut down their own online merch store, which was being severely mismanaged by Warner Records.
Sure, you can stream music, but buying physical products is the best way to support the artists you love, ensuring they can continue to make the music that moves us all.
And when you buy local, more money stays in your local community. Dollars spent locally create jobs and expand your city’s tax base.
As the English electronic group The Black Dog highlights on their band shirts:
“One T-shirt is the equivalent to 6,500 streams on Spotify. 76% of all music in 2019 is streamed and not bought physically or digitally. Band merchandise is the most direct way of supporting an artist.”
The best way to keep local music institutions alive and support your music community is to buy music from local record stores. And if they don’t have what you want in stock, understand that it’s likely not their fault. Is it possible that the corporate powers that be are squeezing out the little guys who cater to our culture?
So ask yourself: Do you want independent music retailers in your city?
If you answered YES! Please sign this petition—created in collaboration with Vortex, Music Millennium and MusicPortland—then get off your screen and go experience one in your neighborhood. We recommend the following Oregon-based independent record stores who are united in their pledge to support local artists and music economies—plus find plenty more in other states here.