Two local record stores championed their independent ownership on Saturday as part of a nationwide initiative to celebrate the culture of record stores.
Crooked Beat Records in Adams Morgan and CD Warehouse on Georgetown’s M Street were among participants handing out free CDs, posters, stickers and special seven-inch vinyl releases created just for the national event.
Sophomore Lauren Mann, who is a college representative for WEA, a section of Warner Music Groups and other independent labels, said Record Store Day was created as a tribute to the record stores that have survived a culture of free downloading.
“Record Store Day is a really great opportunity to get our names (out there) as well as promote these independent stores,” Mann said.
Bill Daly, owner of Crooked Beat Records, said he chose to take part after learning many of the best local, independent D.C. record labels were also participating. National Record Day was a great way to raise awareness about local record stores like Crooked Beat, he said.
“Every independent store is kind of like a restaurant,” Daly said. “Everybody has their own special.”
Despite the fact that many music enthusiasts now download their music from the Internet, Daly said he is not worried about the future of his industry.
“Downloading has decreased (sales) some, but there’s always going to be audience that wants the real deal,” Daly said. “There are so many people who still go out and want the real packaging, the real vinyl, the real CD.”
John Sproul, one of the owners of CD Warehouse, said the decision to participate in Record Store Day was obvious choice.
“Well, we’re an independent music store and it’s a promotion for independent music stores that are still here,” he said.
Record store owners said it depends on how you operate your venue. Most independent record stores have a niche market. Many have a slew of regular customers. The more record stores that close, the better business is for those that manage to survive, Daly said.
“There’s not too many places to choose from now, so those of us that exist, we get the majority of the business and we continue to do well,” he said.
CD Warehouse has been open for 10 years, which Sproul joked was a major accomplishment.
“You should always congratulate us for surviving because we’ve been competing against ‘free’ for the last six years,” he said
Constantine Caloüdas, a graduate student at George Mason, said he heard of Record Store Day from the music blog Stereogum. Since he was in D.C. on Saturday, he decided to stop by and check out CD Warehouse.
“I don’t really make it to record stores much anymore,” he said. “I still buy CDs, but I feel like most record stores are kind of out of the way, so I order from Insound and Amazon.com.”
Sproul insisted that independent record stores must survive because of the unique variety of music they offer their customers.
“People love to go into a music store, and I always say for your generation, the young generation, you have enough of mass market corporate America,” he said. “What’s wrong with a music store? Would you rather have a Starbucks?”