I just finished watching the wonderful documentary “All Things Must Pass” which tells the incredible story of Tower Records’ rise and fall. The documentary features stories from many lively personalities, and is mostly told from the perspective of Russ Solomon who has an almost hypnotic voice which is wonderful to listen to throughout the film.
“All Things Must Pass” is as much about Tower Records as it is about the music industry in general. Throughout the film you see the transition from vinyl singles and LP’s to cassettes and CD’s and ultimately to the digital age of music, which is partly responsible for the downfall of Tower Records as a retail store. How we consume music has changed rapidly throughout the last several decades. I used to love browsing music stores as a kid, and over the years I enjoyed seeing my collection of cassettes and then CD’s grow and grow. There was nothing like heading into a store and browsing the racks of CD’s until something caught your eye and you found yourself discovering something entirely new to you. Then as Napster exploded in popularity, music store visits became nothing more than trying to discover music you would later download.
Traditional album sales plummeted, however eventually Apple was able to essentially rescue the music industry with the introduction of the iTunes store. The iTunes store made it easier to buy music than it was to steal it. The “store front” was easy to browse and you always knew what you were getting when you downloaded a song or an album.
In my college years the idea of a music collection transitioned from shelves filled with CD’s to an iTunes library on an iPod. Then it moved from the iPod to the phone, and for the first time most of us stopped having a device dedicated solely to music. We no longer needed Walkmans and iPods or stereos, all we needed was a phone and a bluetooth speaker.
Now in the last few years the way we consume music has changed once again. Libraries of music are practically gone altogether, replaced with streaming services that offer more music than anyone could dream of on demand, all the time. We no longer buy albums, but instead turn to Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music and have access to just about everything (save Adele and occasionally Taylor Swift).
Despite all of the changes in the way music is consumed, the vinyl record has recently become more and more popular. In college I became aware of the resurgence of vinyl records after discovering a local used record store. A few years later vinyl records started popping up in the mall, with stores such as Hot Topic trying to capitalize on the new popularity of the medium.
When I moved to Idaho I was relieved to discover Boise had an excellent outlet for vinyl. The Record Exchange quickly became one of my favorite stores in Boise. The environment makes for wonderful shopping, and they have one of the larger selections of vinyl I’ve come across.
They have an entire wall dedicated to new and popular vinyl records and several sections filled with hundreds of records, both new and used. They host wonderful events including concerts that pack the store full of lively crowds. Their Record Store Day events are wonderful, and it’s incredibly exciting to browse vinyl elbow to elbow with so many other vinyl lovers.
It’s true, I don’t often buy music anymore. I enjoy the convenience of being able to listen to any album at the push of a button via my Apple Music subscription, however when there is an album I absolutely must own, I buy it on vinyl. And what better place to pick up this vinyl, than at The Record Exchange in Boise?
If you ever find yourself visiting Boise, The Record Exchange should be on your list of places to visit. You’ll feel like you’re stepping into something from the past, and that’s not a bad thing. So many book and music stores have closed their doors in recent years, it’s wonderful to see something like The Record Exchange continuing to thrive .