Bob Baker's The Buzz Factor
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August 08, 2007
Shocker: Local Indie Music Stores Grow
... CD sales are in the toilet, distributors, outlets, and even major chains like Tower Records are closing all over the country ... anyone who's even thinking about opening an independent, bricks-and-mortar music store could probably do better by answering a Nigerian letter. The indie shops that haven't succumbed to Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Circuit City stand to get whacked by file-sharing and the digital era.
Yet a handful of little local music retailers from Miami to Delray Beach is somehow hanging on. And if that's not quixotic enough, there's this: Fort Lauderdale's Radio-Active Records, formerly known as CD Collector, is expanding.
As it turns out, some smart indie record store owners aren't buying into the doom and gloom trends of major music chains. They're making the best use of what they have to work with and getting back to basics.
"We took a look around and saw that there aren't any record stores that are throwing really cool in-store events any more ... and decided it was time to change that," says Radio-Active's general manager, Mike Ramirez.
Lauren Reskin, owner of Miami's Sweat Records, concurs. The trick is to sharpen the local edge.
"Our biggest strategy is community involvement," she says. "It's why Virgin [Megastore] couldn't survive down here: They don't pay attention to what music locals are interested in. I go to the clubs, I see what people are dancing to, and I order that stuff in the store. If you don't pay attention to the local market, you're isolating yourself, and you're not going to make it.
"We're more of a boutique, a culture outpost, rather than a music store to make money. The majority of our inventory is stuff you can't get anywhere else in Miami -- and that's important."
That's what I love about this story. It demonstrates people making their own circumstances instead of settling for being victims. It shows the importance of focusing on a small slice of the music market instead of aiming for the whole pie.
What can you do to create your own little thriving niche in the music world?
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Bob Baker is an author, speaker, teacher, indie musician and former music magazine editor dedicated to showing musicians of all kinds how to get exposure, connect with fans, sell more music, and increase their incomes.
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