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Can The Record Store Survive?

With music sales down another 5% last year, consumers moving towards downloads and big box retailers stealing hit product sales can anything like the record shop of yesteryear survive?  Some brave soles think so.

"We are definitely going to see the demise of the larger stores and will probably also see a decrease in the number of specialty stores, as well," Steve Jones, professor of communications at UniversityCd_many_14 of Illinois Chicago told the Chicago Sun Times. "The stores that become 'institutions' will survive."

Institutions like Newbury Comics in Boston or Amoeba in LA and SF are stores that seem to have become essential parts of their respective cities.

Back in Chicago John Laurie, owner of Laurie's Planet of Sound says he is on track to beat last year's sales records which were his store's best ever.  POS Offers a taste of everything from indie rock to country top-hop, but not what's on Target's best-seller list.  "Music stores will be like the neighborhood bar, only we won't serve alcohol," according to Laurie. "It's a place to hang out and discuss music and discover something new. As long as people like music, there will be record stores."

Cds_color_26Scrappy entrepreneurs like the Newbury Comics music store chain's Mike Dreese have survived with a mix that includes more non-music items like t-shirts and collectibles. But will impulse items and swag really be the draw that attracts serious music fans with money to spend on CD's?

Just as it's difficult to imagine the Internet replacing live shows; so too could the record store become a place where music lovers meet in person, listening, sharing opinions, discovering and buying the music that the rest of us will be listening to a couple of weeks later.  It's a scenario that sounds wonderfully familiar to those of us who once haunted record stores hidden down alleys just off campus.