Wednesday, May 30, 2007

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the vinyl

A bit of a watershed moment in the Canadian music business, as Sam the Record Man announced they are closing their flagship Toronto location. I didn't spend all that much time in that particular store but I had fun walking the aisles of their Hamilton stores. Sam Sniderman made it a point of stocking independent and Canadian artists, long before the CANCON rules and well before we began to speak of "alternative music." Many songwriters and singers can credit their careers in large part to the persistence of Sniderman when most deejays only wanted to play American and British stars -- and in particular, only those from whom they received payola.

But times have changed. Canada does have a home based star system so well entrenched that CANCON is probably not needed anymore although I still support it. But the big issue is that mom-and-pop operations have given way to Wal-Mart and of course online music stores which undercut physical plants. Not to mention illegal file-sharing.

With this downsizing, only two Sams will be left, and they're both franchises; in Sarnia and Belleville. As we see the insipid encroachment of tabloid values contaminating the Canadian music industry one must mourn at the loss of a true Canadian icon. One can only wonder how long it will be before the underground scene is forced back underground by RIAA and other industry groups. After all, they're still giving us music we don't want to hear and want to stuff even more down our ever-shrinking brains.

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