Skeptics predict the local music shop is going extinct like the penny arcade.
But for the past six years, so-called independently owned, stand-alone brick-and-mortar retailers around the United States (and the world) have been banding together under the Record Store Day banner to, paraphrasing the immortal Beastie Boys, fight for their right to exist.
Since 2010, Little Haiti music shop and hangout Sweat Records has been leading the local struggle by hosting Sweatstock, an annual one-day music festival and RSD blowout celebrating vintage vinyl, limited-edition CDs, indie music, artisanal grub, and free fun.
Now in its fourth year, Sweat's fest and the shop itself don't seem to be on the endangered list. So we asked a bunch of major players if the inevitable extinction of the local music shop is all bullshit.
Lauren "Lolo" Reskin. Owner and founder of Sweat Records. Lolo's quick and simple answer to New Times' snickering question, "C'mon, does the world really need vinyl anymore?" is a nicer version of "yes, dumbass." She shoots back: "Does the world really need books anymore? There are still millions of people who would argue yes, and it's the same way for vinyl." OK, so how about record stores like Sweat? Who needs 'em? "Anyone who has followed us throughout the years knows that we are not just a record store," Reskin points out. "We're one of the only all-ages event spaces in town, we're a vegan-friendly coffee bar, a meeting place, and we've created tons of resources for the local arts scene, like sweatshopmiami.com." And just maybe, she says, that's the way for music shops to stave off permanent eradication. "There are still a few stores around the world that can get by purely on sales. But most of the smaller ones that are thriving have had the smarts to become more of a community space and less of a strictly retail establishment."
Kenny Millions. AKA DJ Fucked Up. Unlike Lolo, Mr. Kenny "Fucking" Millions isn't as upbeat. "I'm only optimistic about tits and ass in the music world, and once again who gives a shit about the future of anything." You'd think Kenny — a former Motown session player and NYC free-jazz scene guy — would be alarmed by the rapid disappearance of so many brick-and-mortar record stores. But these days, he's all about fucking with (and fucking up) saxophones and blow-up dolls. So his only response is "who gives a shit." And though he dismisses most of our inquiries as "dumb fucking questions," Mr. Millions admits Sweat Records and Sweatstock are still unshitty places where "lonely cocksuckers will hear some freaking great music for free and maybe meet someone who will give them some head."
Holly Hunt. Metal monsters Beatriz Monteavaro and Gavin Perry. Despite being a couple of brooding, heavy-music behemoths, Betty and Gavin do "give a shit about the future of anything," including local music shops. In fact, Mr. Perry even believes "there has been a shift from the big-box music store to the smaller, curated record store. Be it nostalgia, convenience, or aesthetic choice, I see many more artists seeking to release their music in the 'antiquated' modes of vinyl and tape." And that kind of trend is heartening news because, as Betty says, "a city isn't a real music city without at least one awesome venue and one awesome record store. Without Churchill's and Sweat, it would be nearly impossible to sustain a scene here." Plus: "If you care about music, you should care about record stores. If you are anti-corporate, you should care about record stores." Wanting to lighten the mood, though, Gavin reminds us that Sweatstock is a freaking party, man. "This isn't about the survival of music shops. Why be so cynical? What will people get at Sweatstock? Free entertainment!"