Dance-music retailer Halcyon celebrates Record Store Day.
Wed Apr 16 2008
Mark Saturday 19 on your calendar: It’s the inaugural edition of a nationwide celebration of vinyl vendors called Record Store Day. Yes, despite the perception, the vinyl emporium, where disc-stocked walls attract pasty-skinned wax fetishists, still exists. But in the age of iTunes and digital-deejaying setups like Serato, they’re not exactly prospering—a fact noted by Erykah Badu in her video for “Honey,” which ends with an entreaty to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL RECORD STORE!!!. The red-letter day, organized by a coalition of independent-retailer associations (including one ominously monikered the Almighty Institute of Music Retail) aims to increase awareness of the endangered shops. Shawn Schwartz, proprietor of Brooklyn dance-music boutique Halcyon, is doing his part to celebrate the date by hosting an old-fashioned block party, located just steps outside its Dumbo shop, where Halcyon relocated in 2004 after giving up its original Carroll Gardens location.
You’re a record-store owner; I’m guessing you believe the concept of a record store is still a viable one, right?
Well, I don’t know if I would go so far as to say it’s viable. I would say that it’s valuable, and certainly worth trying to make viable. If it isn’t, it’s not for lack of effort on our part.
You’re obviously pretty dedicated to vinyl—it was only recently that Halcyon set up a digital-download shop, halcyondigi.com.
Right around when we moved was when the whole digital thing really began to creep up, but there wasn’t a lot of indication yet that DJs were going to go as digital as they did. Serato hadn’t even come out yet, and though some people were using [original digital-DJ system] Final Scratch, a lot of people looked at that as a gimmick. Back then, there were still a lot of people going, “Hell no, I’m not giving up my records!” But as the technology improved and got cheaper, those people started jumping ship pretty quickly, so it was a matter of adapt or die.
But when you download, don’t you miss out on the community-center, barber-shop aspect of buying music?
Absolutely, which is part of the reason that we’ve always had in-store events, live broadcasts and that kind of stuff. We want people to come here and talk about records, not just buy them.
What percentage of DJs would you guess still spins vinyl?
I’m not sure if there are any formal studies, but I can tell you this: I spent a week in Miami for the Winter Music Conference, and I did not see a single DJ play a single record.
Halcyon tosses its Record StoreDay celebration Apr 19, 2008, from 1–7pm.