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Support Your Local, Prick Independent Music Store Pt. 1: Best Buy.

I received a few e-mails giving me shit for buying ‘Underground Kingz’ from a Best Buy. Most were half-informed rants that repeat stuff like “corporate entities” but one was, although a bit condescending, earnest in its attempt to inform me of how independent record stores are going out of business, etc. etc. Of course, I know that, I just don’t care. Generally, I respond to just about every e-mail I get, but numerous attempts at concisely explaining my position got really long and not-concise and I figured I’d turn it into a blog entry.

First, I do support plenty of independent music stores, probably at least as much if not more than the douchebags that sent me self-righteous e-mails. I don’t really work much or very hard, so my yearly income is somewhere around $10,000. I would say it is a safe estimate that I literally spend at least $1000 dollars a year on CDs and records and most of that is not at Best Buy. Last night, when I got home from a record store (picked up a used copy of Devin’s ‘Coughee Brothaz’ album that comes out in a few weeks and ‘Green Street’ by Grant Green) to find my latest credit card bill in the mailbox: I owe $1,481! So yeah, I “support” (whatever that means) record stores so much it will probably ruin my credit.

My only Best Buy shopping is with new rap releases because they sell them for mad cheap and Best Buy is like a 10 minute drive from my house while my closest independent record store is at least 30. Also, Best Buy opens at 10am and when I’m so excited about the new UGK that I can’t sleep, I don’t want to drive another 20 minutes and wait until 11 or 12 or whatever time some fat fuck who runs the indie store decides to wake up and open his store.

Second, there’s the very real fact that you can’t depend on an independent record store to have anything. See, independently-owned record stores are essentially fascist and more often than not, cater to what the people who work there or run it listen to. If you’re lucky, that is awesome but it generally means they have a lot of releases from KRANKY and not what I’m looking for. It really is possible that the owner of any indie record store does not know UGK or does not care and would choose not to order it because indie stores are working with a lot less money and have to make decisions to not carry stuff. Oh right, they can “order it” for me but why the fuck would I do that when I can go down the street and get it right now? I’m not the Jesus Christ of music purchasing; I don’t have that kind of constitution.

When ‘†’ by Justice came out, I drove all over Baltimore looking for the CD and you know where I finally found it? Best Buy! The past week or so, I’ve obsessively sought-out ‘The King of Roq’ from Baltimore’s Blaq Starr and the only place that has it is not a record store at all but a shoe store: Downtown Locker Room. In the past however, it is Best Buy and FYE that carry and support local Baltimore artists and if you were a local artist, wouldn’t you want your album in a big store like Best Buy?! You’d reach a much larger and broader audience placing your music in a Best Buy than in an independently-owned store and frankly, the corporate sheep of Best Buy will support the product more; you won’t run into some surly record twat who “hates” Baltimore Club or gives you a rant about how that CD sucks as you’re purchasing it!.

I once myself wallowed in the smug pride and complacency of believing people should shop independent and all that, but the actual differences between corporate and independent is pretty negligible.

In terms of music consumption, a store like Best Buy probably exposes just as many people to new music as the “cool” record store named after a Captain Beefheart song. Before I could drive or had a credit card, my options on where I could purchase shit was pretty much limited to Best Buy. I’d go with my mom to the mall and I’d tell her I was going in some store and I’d find her in an hour and then I’d run across the street to Best Buy and obsessively run-around looking for whatever CDs I wanted. I remember buying ‘Kind of Blue’, ‘It Takes a Nation…’, and Yo La Tengo’s ‘I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One’ in an eighth-grade birthday money spending blow-out. Now, is it better that I heard those even if it meant buying them from a “corporate entity” or should I never have heard them? Best Buy has a decent balance of independent and relatively obscure music with mainstream stuff and if you’re some interesting kid in the middle of nowhere, it serves its purpose especially now that all the “indie” artists have sold-out (but won’t admit it). The selection in many independent stores isn’t that much different from Best Buy. Of course, that too will be blamed on evil corporate takeover tactics and not most indie clerks a) not searching out new, interesting music and b) selling the same stuff because it sells and they too are only concerned with the bottom line.

It is the luxury of the fairly well-off to preach independent shopping. For those with less time and less money, it is harder to justify dropping a few more dollars on something they want just because a bunch of jerkoffs have made where and what one purchases an ethical fucking issue. In a few months, some Mom will be buying the new 50 Cent for their child. Best Buy will have Christmas sales that may bring the album under $10 dollars, while purchasing it somewhere else it’d be closer to $15. To a parent without a lot of money trying to buy what their kid wants, that $5 matters; it means her kid gets one more stocking stuffer. All of the Corporate haters have either never had their options and time extremely limited or have forgotten what that is like.

Written by Brandon

August 21st, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Best Buy, Indie