Considering that NYC's culture of independent music has always been extremely diverse, it's hard to think of anything being totally synonymous with it, but the East Village's Other Music record store is an institution that comes close. The shop, located just down the street from Washington Square Park, will officially close its storefront and mail-order service for good on June 25.
Rent has more than doubled since the store's founding in 1995, and yet they are making less than half of the $3.1 million in sales they made in their most successful year, 2000. On top of that, the skyrocketing local real estate market has caused their property tax payments to go way up, too, reports the New York Times.
"When we opened 20 years ago, the East Village was a vibrant and inexpensive for musicians and artists to live," explained Other Music co-owner Josh Madell to THUMP over the phone. "Definitely commercial real estate is part of the situation that we're facing, but of course [the decline in] physical retailing of music is a huge part of it too."
In 2015, digital music revenues had surpassed physical music revenues for the first time ever in 2015, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and that trend obviously doesn't bode well for local specialty shops like Other Music. And lest you think the vinyl boom would keep stores like this alive and thriving, it turns out that it's disproportionately benefitting major labels over independent ones.
"We have been squeezed from both sides for a while," Madell said. "The fact of the matter is, for a record store like this, which for a long time which was really at the heart of music culture in New York and really was essential to what was happening here—it's not anymore. A lot of what happens in music happens online. It was always a tough business, and it's become very hard lately to figure out how it was a viable business for us."
Follow Alexander on Twitter.