On Friday the other shoe finally dropped on the Tower Records franchise.
Tower’s assets were officially sold to a liquidation company as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. The Tower Records retail chain that so many people know and love is officially dead. Strangely, I won’t miss it.
As a music geek back in the early 80’s I practically grew up at Tower Records. I’d spend hours scouring Tower’s import bins looking for obscure gems to add to the KFSR playlist. These days people talk about building systems to enhance music discovery. Back in the day, Tower Records was the system for music discovery.
Tower maintains what is commonly referred to as a deep catalog. Through the years music geeks have gravitated to Tower because they knew the store stocked even the most obscure recordings. Now, of course, those very same music geeks have numerous alternatives to choose from. The very concept of deep catalog has morphed into the Long Tail and Tower Records has become a victim of the very retail concept that it helped create.
We talk a lot about the decline of reviewers at mainstream publications. We have a lot of thoughts on the matter. Luckily, we have lots of server space, thus room for one more.
What is truly missing in today’s review world is passion. Good, old-fashioned, “I loved this so much I had to tell you about it” passion. There is a whiff of the academic in the work of many reviewers. Great, if you’re trying to write your master’s thesis, not so great if you’re trying to inspire your readers.
Let us take this lead from the Los Angeles Times’ review of the final Sleater-Kinney show:
This summer, the major studios decided press screenings weren’t all that — they bypassed newspapers critics in favor of popular review: weekend box office numbers. The recent Los Angeles Times poll suggested that today’s kids prefer peer analysis to highly trained professional analysis. We’ve suggested that today’s critics are out-of-touch with the real world.
So what role should film (music, book, architecture, etc) critics play in the real world? In response to a question from colleague Patrick Goldstein, there is this:
One of the most persistent media rumors of early 2006 involved Google launching a digital music service to rival Apple’s iTunes. There was a point earlier this year when it seemed as if every analyst on Wall Street was predicting that Google would be launching GTunes any day now. iTunes was clearly doomed and its days would soon be numbered.
Far be it from me to say “I told you so”, but back in April I went on record with a list of reasons why Google Music won’t matter. Now comes word that Google is going to sit out the upcoming digital music war. Instead, they’ll be partnering with MTV to insert advertising into videos that will be available on the still dismal Google Video service. No matter how Google tries to spin it, the MTV deal is a huge letdown for anyone expecting the company to make its mark on the music industry.
Earlier this week I told you the 10 things you need to know about Microsoft Zune. While that list will get you through small talk at most cocktail parties, there’s one item that merits more discussion — the fact that Zune will not be PlaysForSure Compliant.