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- Posted on Jul 27th 2010 4:00PM by David Chiu
First released in April as a DVD at independent record shops -- it's widely available now -- 'I Need That Record!' explores the factors that have impacted the indie record stores: online music distribution, big box chains like Wal-Mart and the influence of commercial radio and major labels. Among those interviewed in the documentary include Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, ex-Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, writer Noam Chomsky, and Minor Threat and Fugazi founder Ian MacKaye.
Toller began working on his documentary in 2006 after reading about record store closings in the press. According to the film, about 3,000 record stores have closed in the last several years. He tells Spinner that corporate greed and media consolidation have hurt the music industry and the indie record stores. "I think the film has a broader message...just about what's kind of happening to mom-and-pop mainstream businesses, and how we're just sort of losing the uniqueness of America in the face of these big-box homogenous stores."
What shocked Toller most were the statistics in the movie, one of which said that only 80 percent of music was available in physical form (Since the film wrapped, it's now down to 70 percent). "The fact that everybody seems to be kind of duped by the press or media that downloading is the way of everything, it's just not true," he says. "Most people want to get it physically still. I owned an iPod for years and I just lost it, [so] I'm sort of glad that I have all my CDs."
In differentiating the indie record stores from the big-box chains that sell music, Toller says the former caters to the community. "They offer a space where like-minded people can come together and have a dialogue, share ideas and interests. A lot of these stores -- like Grimey's in Nashville or Culture Clash in Toledo, Ohio -- they get it. They get the importance of bringing people into a place."
"I also think that the Internet is an amazing resource in terms of investigating and learning about music," Ian MacKaye tells Spinner, "and you can certainly get anything you want for free. But what you can't get for free is the actual social interaction, the kind of connectivity that you get in a store."
Still, the future of indie record stores isn't all doom and gloom. "Are [people] sort of trying to spend less on entertainment if they can get it for free on the Internet?" asks Toller. "Absolutely. But I think if you run community-based events, in-stores or performances, listening parties, just something to get people in the store, [they] will show up."
"To pronounce [indie record stores] dead or dying is ridiculous," MacKaye says. "There are probably stores opening right now that are selling records of music that you and I couldn't make heads or tails of, but somebody cares and that's what matters."