On the aforementioned bus journey, my companion spent some enjoyable time regaling me with tales of his work Christmas do, spent with Scouting for Girls, and of a recent Beatlemania-esque stampede for We Are Scientists trampling shop stock under foot. Both of these bands had played mini-gigs at the shop, and I felt a little regretful that I no longer visited such a great shop for recommendations and nattering.
For a keen music fan (I draw the line this side of “obsessive”) the local independent becomes a social hub. The shelves of their special offers, containing quite rich pickings, were frequently arranged to provide interesting juxtapositions and relations. Sometimes I’m fairly certain that the staff I knew there had stacked a couple of CDs next to each other just to get me personally to buy them, especially as they sometimes referred to my purchase later on in the pub.
Until they’ll let me take a USB stick in and leave with some digital music, what can I do? How can I support them and yet only buy music digitally? Could these smaller shops perhaps provide plug-in points to obtain digital downloads in the town centre? It’s no more ridiculous an idea than a catalogue shop where, after having perused their list of wares and queued to order what you want, you have to queue up again to obtain the item there and then, from the warehouse behind the shop.
Could smaller retailers become effectively resellers of music feeds, digitally packaging and redistributing on behalf of larger companies: people like 7digital in the first instance, but then the record companies themselves once the whole DRM hoo-hah blows over? Because blow over it will, and future generations will be as astonished by our society’s technological attempts to restrict perfectly genuine attempts to pay for and consume media, as we are now astonished by the Lord Chamberlain’s office’s earlier legislative attempts to restrict the theatre.