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Libertarian for President

Why One Chain of Record Stores in Northern California is Able to Stay in Business

I can remember a time when there were four record stores within a few blocks of my house. There were three Warehouse Music locations and one Tower Records to which I could easily walk. However, these music stores that used to be found all over California, and the entire United States, began to disappear after Napster was released in 1999. Suddenly, everyone could download music for free and no one needed to buy CDs anymore.
Napster was eventually shutdown because of copyright issues, but people didn’t go back to buying new CDs in record stores. iTunes then allowed people to buy albums and songs online. Even though people have to pay for music on iTunes, people still often prefer it to buying CDs because it allows people to select the songs that they want to buy from each album. Many people also prefer buying music on iTunes because they do not have to drive anywhere when they feel like buying music.
Rasputin Music, which has nine locations in and around the San Francisco Bay Area1, appears to be one of the few chains of music stores that is still in business. I believe there is one major reason why this chain of record stores is able to keep their doors open: They sell mostly used CDs. Inside all of the Rasputin Music locations that I have visited, nearly all of the music racks are filled with used CDs, and there is only a small section for new albums. Many of the used CDs that they sell cost only 2-7 dollars, while the same music often costs more on iTunes. The low prices of these used CDs make it worthwhile to buy them instead of purchasing the same albums online. Rasputin Music is likely to make a profit on these albums because they can sell them for more money than they pay for them1.
Rasputin’s major competitor for selling used CDs are websites like Amazon.com. However, buying used CDs in person has the advantage of being able to listen to the music on the same day you purchase it. The music doesn’t have to arrive in the mail.
Although new CDs might not be flying off of the shelves, used CDs appear to still be in demand. There are many people who appreciate the older music that is cheaper to buy in stores.

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