Is There a Future for Music Retail?

Musicians Need Help More Than Ever!

by John Huston

Austin is the live music capital of the world

It seems as if this phrase has been around since the dawn of time, but will it endure the test of time? It seems there’s not a single night in this great city where you can’t go more than a stone’s throw away and hear live music in the distance. It’s part of the history here in Austin. So many great musicians had their start in Austin:

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Eric Johnson

Doug Sahm

This is just skimming the surface. Before there was ever a Guitar Center there were little shops that these individuals could walk into and hold an instrument for the very first time and strike the first chord that led them down the path to fame. There seem to be fewer and fewer of these little “hole in the wall” type music shops. The option to walk into a store and play an instrument that is way out of your price range, and put it back on the shelf and leave motivated to save your money seems to be fading. The very likely dissolve of Guitar Centers around the country, just might be the end of this nostalgic dream.

It happened quicker than we expected

In 2007, Guitar Center was bought out by Bain Capital, now known as Ares Capital. You might remember hearing this company name because Mitt Romney used to be the C.E.O. before he ran for president in 2008. We all know that it’s a cut throat world in the game of capitalism, but there is a certain satisfaction to tangibly examine your items and in the case of musicians, to play them. However, more and more Americans are choosing to shop online. I’m just as guilty as the rest of you on this one, but I’m not prepared to see this happen to music retail. I just find it hard to believe that there is a reasonable future for music retail. It’s a sad state of affairs for the future of musicians in Austin, and the rest of the country.

Here’s my question for you all:

Excluding groceries, what percentage of your purchases are done online?

16 thoughts on “Is There a Future for Music Retail?

    1. The convenience of having a store near you is nice. The convenience of ordering something online and then going about your week only to find your packages in the mailbox is very tempting. Half of your purchases makes sense to me in this day and age.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I get what you’re saying about Guitar Center, but I think as long as middle and high school kids need to rent band and orchestra instruments brick and mortar music stores will be around. I’d say the bulk of my online purchases are entertainment related, minus what I buy at shows, so probably 50-60%.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s very true. I didn’t think about all of the band and high school instruments, that is a good point. As long as the music programs are still being funded in school, music shops will hopefully stay open. 50-60% of your purchases is a good ratio. I pretty much have the same ratio.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My band’s name is Heapin’ Helpin’. The calendar was just updated and we are not on there yet but I’m calling David Cotton tomorrow to ask what the deal is with that. But he told us we were booked that night.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I do some online shopping but not much, and when it comes to musical instruments I want to be able to walk in to a store and see how a guitar feels in my hands before I buy it. You just can’t do that through a computer screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You only shop online for 10% of things? That’s really impressive, I don’t have a car so it’s a lot easier for me to make certain purchases online. However, I would shop a lot less online if I did have a car here in Austin. But keep shopping locally!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jimmy Vaughan is coming? Did I miss it? Anymore info that can be provided would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.


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