5 ways Apple’s iTunes Store saved record stores

“Record-store owners owe Apple iTunes a tremendous debt of gratitude for being an uncaring, scatter-brained, inhuman little jukebox: It’s saving their skin right now,” Jason Notte writes for TheStreet.

Apple’s iTunes Store’s “$1.2 billion in sales last quarter is more than half of what the record stores will make all year and still growing by 23% over the same period last year,” Notte writes. “That success, however, saved existing independent record shops in some very unlikely ways.”

The following five iTunes-induced record-store changes are worth a spin:
• It made fans want what they couldn’t have
• It brought back the long tail
• It made us miss the record-store clerk
• It made showmanship a selling point
• It made the stores offer what they offer, and more

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Apple got me to start buying music again.

    I’ve heard the same from a lot of people. We stopped buying music sometime just after highschool or university and Apple essentially got us back in the market.

    That’s good for everyone in the music industry.

    1. +1 to this. I had not purchased a record in 10 years, and I’ve picked up 2 this week (The Civil Wars’ “Barton Hallow” and Obadiah Parker’s “The Siren and the Saint”, both great records!) via iTunes

    2. Could not agree more. What itune make me do is rebuild and add to my collection because I am famous for misplacing my CDs or having stolen by friends and family. Now it on my hard drive ( safetly back up) I never ever misplace again. I also love the fact that their no packing so it take up less space. Finally instance gratification if I hear song I like I go straight to tune and buy it any place, any time.
      As for saving the record stores who knows I have not been in one in nearly ten years. I live in a small town with a crapy record store to begin with, which do not exist. May be I will get off my lazy ass today burn a bit of gas and go to a real record store. This article has kind of motivated me.

    1. Which it actually did. IF America had to manually invade Japan to end the war and end up killing all those women and children who would have been pressed into suicide missions, it would have left a totally foul taste in the mouths of both sides for a long time.

      The bomb broke their resistance in a couple of quick blows. Boom. end of war.

      Just a thought,

      1. Gosh! That’s one way to rationalise the only documented use of WMD ever.
        I wonder what Nagasaki and Hiroshima residents would say in response? Thank you, perhaps?
        War is a dirty business, whichever way you cut it. Only the arms makers win.

  2. It reinvigorated music sales but it’s NOT saving the record store – if they even exist anymore. I haven’t seen one for years, but I do buy music from the iTunes Store, or whatever Apple is calling it these days.

  3. I don’t think it “saved” record stores, but it change the market. It seemed in the 90’s that indie stores were trying to compete withe giant, overpriced, pop music warehouse stores (Sam Goody, etc) and in some ways were trying to play their game, losing some focus on the niche music for the economic power of the big stars. iTunes took down or damaged the big stores dependent on the hit artists. Indie stores were simply flexible enough and had the appropriate employees to increase their focus on niche music and other forms of media (movies, comic books, etc). In other words, to refocus on what made them good in the first place.

    1. Sam Goody, Tower Records, Coconut Records, HMV… They are all permanently gone. Apple simply steamrolled over them (with Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy holding the flanks).

      1. I think that’s what op meant. None of those stores were indies, but their existence was hurting the small record stores. Now that those big stores are gone, the indies can get back to selling music and offering a more focused environment for their customers. Something the big stores never did very well anyway.

        Op is talking about saving indie record stores – not wastes of space like Tower Records.

        1. Check out the documentary “I Need That Record”. It chronicles the current state of the market and follows one store from their home of 20 years to closing the shop and working out of milk crates. The independent record stores seem to agree with the above assessment that Apple basically ran the big stores out of the market and left a vacuum which the indies are now filling back in. Many music collectors will always want the physical artifact and shops retain that clear advantage over download music. With the big chains out of the way everybody wins. Or at least has a better chance.

            1. I think you’re right. I took advantage of that when I bought a pile of ridiculously marked-down books from the soon-to-be-closed Borders nearby. That store had only been open a couple of years and is in an affluent area, but that didn’t seem to matter.

  4. The article seems to argue a point that is rather narrow. The ‘Record Store’ it talks of is one of only 700 independently owned stores that only sell music (CDs and vinyl) and little else. Practically all of these are in smaller markets, all cater to somewhat of a fringe crowd (not much of Lady Gaga sales), and live on that ‘long tail’ (selling obscure stuff by the dozens, rather than Justin Bieber by the thousands).

    Wal-Marts, Targets and similar are still seeing steep declines in CD sales, though. And they are the ones that sell vast majority of music on physical media.

  5. How does selling books, movies and Simpson dolls make you. Record store?

    I didn’t see iTunes saving anyone in the article. Just like I’m sure there are still diehards out there looking for 16mm copies of movies to watch at home there is a subset of music listeners that want vinyl. But there is nor enough to keep the doors open. These store owners see that and expand what stuff they sell, movies etc.

    I almost see the article written as a dare ” ok write an article that shows that iTunes as been *good* for indie record stores”. Like some college creative writing class.

    There are fewer than there were, and I don’t see the trend changing for any compelling reason.

  6. The Atomic bomb ended the war quickly with much less death, destruction of infrastructure throughout the country, and it also had the USSR stay out of Japan as a war prize. This allowed the USA to rebuild Japan so it could prosper to what it is today. So Japan is more Japanese than it would be under some other possible conclusions.

  7. I don’t see it.
    Resourceful record stores will survive, but surely most will follow the giant record retailers to the graveyard.
    Except for those malls with Apple Stores in them, the future for the average retailer looks bleak over the next decade because of Amazon and its like. Soon, manufacturers will follow Apple’s online example and push hard for e-Retail sales.
    I see a lot of boarded up shops in High (Main) Streets that just can’t compete with their overheads-driven higher prices.

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