For the record

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2012
Monday, August 27, 2012

 

BY CHRISTINA COOKE

0912 ForTheRecord 02
0912 ForTheRecord 03
R. Jared White says the new-arrival bin at his vinyl shop, Clinton Street Record & Stereo, turns over about once a week. "My main thing is keeping people excited about music and keeping this format going," he says.
// Photos by Sierra Breshears

Behind the sales counter along the back wall of Clinton Street Record & Stereo, an ’80s synth-funk album spins on the turntable beside R. Jared White. A DJ whose expertise ranges from gangsta rap to goth, White and his business partner opened the Southeast Portland record store two years ago despite the fact that record stores everywhere else were closing.

Since music moved from physical to digital formats in the early 2000s, the record-store industry in the U.S. has been struggling. The number of record stores has declined an average of 22% per year over the past five, according to industry analyst IBISWorld, and it’s expected to continue declining an average of 4% per year until 2017.

White wasn’t worried about his venture, though, because he considers what he sells a completely different product — much more tangible — than a downloaded song.

“You can pretty much touch the music,” he explains, reaching over and scratching the spinning record.

Despite the doom and gloom in the industry as a whole, Portland’s independent record-store scene has burgeoned over the past few years. Of the 25 independent record shops within the city limits, 13 have opened over the past decade, eight in the past six years.

In addition to Clinton Street, establishments such as Exiled Records, Mississippi Records, Record Room, Beacon Sound, Boom Wow! Records and Little Axe Records have set up shop since the industry began to plummet.

“It’s the inverse of what’s happening everywhere else,” says Eric Isaacson, who opened Mississippi Records in 2003. “I don’t understand it, exactly.”

Distinct from the larger, older Portland music shops like Music Millennium, Everyday Music and Jackpot Records, which are established cultural entities with loyal clientele, most of the music shops in the new wave share a number of characteristics. They are tucked into physically small spaces. They sell almost exclusively vinyl, both new and used. Their owners, who can usually be found working the sales floors, are die-hard music lovers who carefully curate their collections and stock deep rather than broad.

Each shop distinguishes itself from others by specializing in a certain type of music — be it punk, psychedelic, electronic, rock or world — though the owners’ personalities also set each apart. Selections range from the $1 to $2 records in the discount bins to the $10 to $20 standard fare to $100-plus collectors’ items. And while the shops make enough money to perpetuate themselves, they don’t make much more.

“They’re all squeaking by,” Isaacson says. “It’s less a money-making thing and more a cultural thing.”

 



 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 Hard to hear.Guest 2012-09-03 00:18:36
This is a great article. It's hard being a vinyl purist, and hearing that the people who make you excited to find new stuff are struggling. I've been to Clinton St searching for hard to find albums and not always have I been lucky, but I've always felt extremely welcome. Thanks for the article
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 RE: For the recordGuest 2012-09-16 19:46:17
Excellent coverage of an interesting story; the passion and committment of these struggling enterperneurs-- and their customers--is inspiring, and makes the world (or, at least, Portland!) a more interesting place.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Fixing Oregon’s broken roads

The Latest
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
RUCCostComparison rev4-30BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The technology at the center of Oregon’s road usage fee reform.


Read more...

5 things to know about veterans in the workforce

The Latest
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
070215-vetsthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.


Read more...

Urban renewer

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
UnknownBY LINDA BAKER   

One year after he was appointed chair of the Portland Development Commission, Tom Kelly talks about PDC's longevity, Neil Kelly's comeback and his new role as Portlandia's landlord.


Read more...

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

Downtime with Debra Ringold

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Natural Prophets

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY SAM BLACKMAN

Storyteller-in-chief with the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Technologies.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS