Jewish World Review June 24, 2002 / 14 Tamuz, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Modern record stores can be a scary proposition | I came across a profile in my local giveaway, SF WEEKLY, this spring, about a guy named Jeff who works for an outfit called Rock River Communications, that claims to be "the premier provider of branded media solutions."

What this means is they make CD music compilations that reflect the image various high end chain stores want to project to customers, which are then sold to those customers so they can feel themselves to be the kind of people the kind of people who shop at high end chain stores.

Unlike those CD holiday compilations that can only be purchased on television, these can be purchased only in high end chain stores, like Pottery Barn, J. Crew, Starbucks, Restoration Hardware-- you know the kind of joint I'm talking about.

These CDs have names like Khaki Christmas, Wicker Fantasy, Plain White Jazz, Java Hut Hut, Scented Samba, Feng Shui Fandango, Music to Faux Finish By, Sun Dried Salsa, et cetera.

Why do people buy these CDs? Supposedly, to reassure themselves that they are indeed the kind of folks who are worthy of shopping at the kinds of stores they like to shop in. And I can seen why today's self-aware over-thirty-somethings would prefer this pre-fab anthology to making the CDs themselves. After all, that would require a library of music. That would mean going to a record store.

Modern record stores can be a scary proposition. They are warehouses full of CDs, the arrangement of which only makes sense to extreme aficionados. Categories include: emo, trip hop, ambient punk. What does all this mean? The modern record store is not a browsing environment. It's designed for people who know what they're looking for, and where to find it, in an atmosphere that owes more to the locker room than Martha Stewart.

If today's thirty- or forty- or fifty-somethings are going to leave the house to buy something, they want to shop in a place with ambience, with little trendy bags, tasteful logos, and a wide assortment of things that look like all the other things that surround them.

The ownership of music may be in question-- composers and writers may be out of luck royalty-wise in the grim future we face, but packagers-- those who have the ability to put things in boxes and sell them to us-- they will always make a living. We won't know their names, but they will survive.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


06/21/02: Life IS a movie?
06/19/02: Spreading fertilizer on a dictionary to try to raise a novel
06/17/02: Happy cows are really miserable?
06/12/02: Very similar to a rock
06/05/02: Of Humice and Men
05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
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10/17/01: Pathetic me
10/08/01: War time lite
10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
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08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
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08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
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07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales