I read some news today that genuinely saddened and shocked me: Tower Records has gone under, belly up, left the world of sales. Normally the news that a high store had gone bankrupt would be met with blank indifference from me, but I have a special place in my heart for Tower Records. While others would go to Central London to keep up with the latest fashion and hit all the trendy bars I would go simply to visit the Tower Records on Piccadilly Circus. It was an amazing place that stocked everything. And I do mean everything. I always got the feeling going into that store that whatever music, DVD or poster you wanted they would more than likely have it. They had an entire Stoner Rock section, and a decent one at that. Nearly all my favourite albums were purchased from that store, mainly because it was the only that seemed to care enough about non-mainstream music to have an extensive back catalogue of albums. At the end of 4 months travelling through India and Nepal, where the best you could hope to pick up was a bootleg collection of Bob Marley tunes, I remember the joy of going into the Tower Records in San Francisco and buying a mountain of albums which I couldn't find anywhere else.
And what has the Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus been replaced with? A Virgin Megastores. Which is shite. They don't have anywhere near the same collection of albums and DVDs, plus I can hardly see Virgin going tits up anytime soon. If it did I would be positively titilated as it would open the way for more genuine music stores to get a decent share of the market.
But who's to blame for all of this? Ultimately I am. Despite purchasing quite a number of records from Tower Records, I still donwloaded even more from t'internet. Despite the protestations of multi-million earning record labels and artists I've never felt bad about downloading music. If I find a small band that I like I'll always try and actually buy their albums (which won't be found in Virgin, and certainly won't be signed by the larger labels) but frankly I couldn't give a fuck if bands that are earning millions anyway get slightly less because of me and the millions of other committing internet piracy around the world.
But now I'm getting this unsettling feeling that I've been a complete idiot about the whole thing. Tower Records wasn't exactly a tiny independent record shop and that's been forced to close. This trend is only going to do down, not up. It's the smaller labels and shops that are going to be forced to close due to internet piracy, not the really big chains. Depriving them of money is what's going to really harm the music industry, and the good side of it, not the faceless money grabbing side. The answer? Time to save up some money and go out and buy the albums I want. As long as they're not by big bands, then it's fair game. Simple.