Joined: 14 Nov 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Sam The Record Man Closes It's Store And What That Means!
By Maurice Ali, Journalist
Sam The Record Man!
Sam The Record Man gets ready to close the doors on it's flagship store here in Toronto. To many, Sam's was just a local landmark with a few stores scattered about selling records. However, to others the closing of Sam's is just another foreboding sign that the music industry - especially at the indie level - is falling apart and near a total collapse that may see only the largest corporations survive.
Our collection of Sam The Record Man memorabilia!
How did Sam's figure in all this? Well, for one, Sam The Record Man supported the small time artists and record companies and helped to sell their music. Our first retail contract was at Sam's and here it is.
Our first contract with Sam and renegotiated with them about two months before the announcement,
what a shame and we were starting to make some money!
Of course Sam's had standards but professional products could make it into the racks with all of the other famous acts. HMV, on the other hand, no longer takes on indie labels directly and simply sells what the bigger corporations put out. So apart from economies of scale against the likes of HMV and Walmart, Sam's carried many CDs that did not have the kind of advertising and name appeal that these corporate giants had. The recent decline of CD sales early this year seemed to be the breaking point for Sam's and I suspect a few more may follow suit. The loss of retail stores like Sam The Record Man means that there are less places with less traffic to sell CDs and less of a chance to recoupe money spent on recording. All these factors conspire to put the small record label out of business and the artist without a venue to get his or her music out there.
This is just big business at work, and a market place correction due to illegal copying of music via the internet. As music loses it's value as people can reproduce it for free, it becomes that much harder to put money into music and survive. Those companies that can work the big retailers and produce at the lowest cost with endorsements and big concerts and movie deals - can still justify first class studio time. But the small time record label can not - the high cost of first class recording, music videos, and advertising make record labels a bad business decision at the present time.
With regard to us - there was never a Fortress Of Freedom Records as an official business name, just the corporate name on all the CDs we produced. I did this because Fortress was always a multi-media company. We are still around because our music is spread around into videos and television programs and entertainment pieces for our paper. We get the most out of our music and musicians and this may be the way for future labels to survive. I feel the the small "music only" indie label is now extinct. Furthermore, what is happening in music is happening in print and television. The small time companies and artists are being cut out of the mass media even though it looked like the average man was finally getting in through the internet. That access by the average man has not happened and actually the opposite seems to be happening. If these doors to the mass media are not left open to the small indie artists and media companies; then I feel we may be headed into a new "dark age" of creativity. Note that this has nothing to do with technology, the technology gets better but creativity gets stifled! The reign of big business and the lack of access to the ordinary person means that vast pool of creativity - you and me - will never stand a chance to express themselves, and the world will be poorer for it. As long as FOF survives, we will make it our mission to use our influence to keep those doors of access open by any means we can fathom.
A cheque from Sam The Record Man!
So the loss of Sam's was the major "bitch slap" in the face of the public as to what has been happening in the record industry for the last few years. Everyone in Toronto was crying and whining about the loss of Sam's, but how many purchased anything there lately? But it seems the public may get what it wants. Rumor has it that the big Sam Record signs will stay up as they will be designated as a Toronto landmark. So even though the store will be gone, folk can still look at those signs as if nothing happened..... I hope that makes them happy.....