Sunday, June 11, 2006

This Is What I Do...

My friend and former co-worker Randy Roberts wrote a big cover story in this week’s Riverfront Times on the current state of independent record stores in St. Louis, which you can read here. The story centers mainly on the business descent of Vintage Vinyl versus Euclid Records' ascent. Needless to say, the piece is a multilayered emotional read for me. I left Vintage Vinyl a few months ago after ten years working there, and have returned to Euclid, where I’m working in their mail order division. (I previously worked at the old Euclid Records Central West End location from 1987 to 1996.)

It’s always weird to read something in print that you’re actually living, but I thought Randy presented a pretty fair and accurate picture of what technological progress is doing to the game I’ve made my living in for the past thirty years. When I sat Lew Prince and Tom Ray down to give them notice that I was going to leave Vintage Vinyl, I told them I simply didn’t know how to help their business anymore. The music buying public have spoken. Oh in theory they may still love the idea of record stores, but they no longer need record stores like everybody once did. And thanks to a myriad of reasons, some deftly touched upon in the article, there’s really not much that can be done to change the situation at this point. Heck, journalists were probably writing the same story about blacksmiths a hundred years ago.

So when I decided to leave Vintage I really had no idea what I was going to do when it came to employment. I figured my record store days were done. But thankfully, Joe Schwab made me an offer to come work for him again, and I couldn’t be any happier. I’m in a position that allows me to use my thirty years of old school record knowledge and apply it daily to the new school of selling records on the web. And to use an old school phrase, the gig’s a gas.

One thing that got kind of lost in the article’s description of Euclid’s web customers spending large amounts of money on rare records, is the passion coming from those doing the purchasing, as well as from we at Euclid, the seller. Sure, some of these folks have the financial luxury of not having to worry about price tags, but it still takes a certain defined degree of love and passion for the artifact in order to plunk down say $1500 on one jazz album or even $200 on an old rock 45. It’s that kind of love and passion for musical artifacts in general that got me into this line of work in the first place, and at this late stage of this nutty game I’m overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to reconnect back into it.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

xoxoxox

You look more content than I've seen you in years. It's hard to find your nitch in the business these days and I'm happy that you found yours (;

DebbySue

steve scariano said...

Thanks Debba---since you're the person who actually got me my first job in this racket way back in the day, that really means a lot to me.

minitru said...

Your friendly neighborhood record store is now iTunes. Kind of like a Tower or a Virgin with a Vintage Vinyl on the premises (watch what Verve and Rhino are doing at iTunes,) iTunes represents a massive sea change effectively putting brick and mortar shops and, because it's also, in a way, your friendly neighborhood record label, the record business as we know it, out of business. The current debate in my backyard is all about to what degree and in what form the "artifact" will persist. My vote is for the book.

steve scariano said...

Thankfully, I am now in the antiques business. :)

minitru said...

That's quite true even without the smiley or the quotes.

Bryan A. Hollerbach said...

I too found Randy's article absorbing, Steve. From the sidelines, I've been trying to assess what definitely constitutes (to use an invidious business catchphrase) a paradigm shift. To me, perhaps erroneously or naively, the shift to digitally supplied single tracks over physically obtained albums qualifies as the unspoken revenge of the 45. Of course, that notion comes from someone with a bungalow bursting with (how passe!) books.

Bry

Chris H. said...

Hey Steve, glad you're back under the thumb of The Man. ;)

Has your email addy changed again? I have a rare music treat to share with you...

steve scariano said...

Yo dawg, my e-mail is:
sscariano@sbcglobal.net

Cynthia Voelkl said...

coolest name I've ever heard for a blog Steve....

steve scariano said...

Thanks, you 'ol Sea Diver you! :)

Hey, shoot me an e-mail and let me know what you've been up to, please...

john ellis said...

yep, vinyl has become a collectible american icon, just like guitars, cars, original movie posters, first editions of book, etc. just like guitars or art, having a new cd version of your fav LP means nothing. an LP has been moved up a level to "an original piece of art". cds are nothing more than a current (but now outmoded) delivery system. just like a copy of your fav work of art...it's nice, but it ain't the real thing. this has nothing to do with sound quality...it's all about collectabilty.