RECORD STORE TALES Part 210: LeBrain on the Radio
While a certain percentage of readers know me as “LeBrain” on 107.5 Dave FM, my first radio appearance was actually a decade ago. Back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, we used to get interview requests from a lot of students. Some were in business, some were in broadcasting, but they all wanted to talk to someone at the record store, usually the owner since he founded the whole operation on his own.
In this case, I was approached by a broadcasting student. He asked me if I’d like to do a radio interview over the phone regarding Napster, downloading, and how that was affecting the music business. Normally in the past all interview requests were passed on onto the owner. I thought that I could handle this one myself.
Even though I had serious doubts about the health of physical music sales at the time, I put on the brave face. There were still positive things happening.
“We haven’t noticed a decline in sales,” I said. “At least not a major one. The industry is responding to these concerns. I fully agree that $20 or more is too much to pay for a CD. I can tell you that if anybody is getting rich off the price of CDs, it’s not independent chains like ourselves. The markup we make on new CDs covers the shipping of the product to us and our overhead, and that’s about it.
“As I said though, the industry is responding. They’re putting bonuses inside the CD that you can’t get by downloading it off Napster,” I continued. “You’ll notice lots of bands, System of a Down for example, putting bonus DVDs or CD-ROMs in the package for virtually the same price.” Metallica too. Lars has obviously learned something from all this: Inside the then-new Metallica CD you got a free full length DVD plus a free concert to download on mp3.
I wasn’t optimistic about the future of physical CD sales, but I didn’t let on. I’d heard the buzz from customers and even staff members, downloading more and more, where they used to hunt for songs in brick-and-mortar stores. Some staff members of a certain generation refused to download on principle, but we were a shrinking group.
“Since I sell used discs,” I continued, spinning it positive, “a lot of the downloaders are selling off their collections to me. For us it’s turning into a winning situation since I have more, and better, stock than 5 years ago.”
The interview aired a day or two later. As it happens my boss happened to hear the interview and liked it. Although it might not seem like a big deal to all readers, I was just proud of myself for taking the initiative and doing it myself. He was surprised to hear the interview, since I hadn’t told him about it. I was confident in my experience and communication abilities, and I wanted the opportunity.
It wasn’t the last. The next one was a TV interview, for the local cable access channel. I don’t know if my boss ever saw that one, but he wouldn’t have liked it as much – all my facial piercings were visible! The idea of a dude with a labret stud and nose ring representing his store on TV might have been too much for him to handle!