Record Store 101: Play These Albums, Sell Records
Record Store Day has come and gone. By all accounts, it went well and my indie record store geek brethren was elated. Beautiful.
See also: 10 Best Record Stores in Metro Phoenix
However, as I suggested in my last column, to really appreciate record stores, you can't just buzz by once a year and pick up a piece of collectible vinyl. You've got to get in there and hang out. You've got to pick the brains of geeks like me. People who have spent a great deal of their time (both professional and personal) filling their brains with great music.
When you get there, you've got to listen. To what those kids are playing. If they're good record store geeks, they are playing to sell. That means hook-you-quick, tasty music.
Until you get to your nearest indie store, I'm here to help. Scroll on for a few play-to-sell secrets and 14 Albums That Always Sell When Played.
Don't Forget Why We're Here, Kid
If you are going to work in a record store, you have to remember one key thing: You need to sell records.
There's that great scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack says, "I will now sell five copies of the three EPs by the Beta Band." That scene is dead-on accurate. That's really what the right record can do -- sell (although I don't remember anyone ever playing that Beta Band album).
That doesn't mean just throwing on whatever the fuck you feel like listening to at any given time, Metal Breath. It means you have to find the right kind of music to hit those browsing customers (or customer, as it may be), enough to get them to come up and ask what it is, and then pull out their hard-earned cash and buy it.
Easier said than done.
Unless you're me.
That's right, I can sell you music. Give me any budget and a halfway decent store, and I'll sell shit to you all day long. Stuff that will get into your soul and make you want to look me up and say thanks 10 years later.
Okay, so I'm cocky. It's from years of training and trial and error.
Here are a few of my general play list rules:
Nothing too heavy, but nothing too slow. Upbeat, not scary. It's easier to take bluegrass if you are a metalhead than vice versa.
People want the off-genres (jazz, blues, world) more than they know. This list is full of cool things from those genres.
Know the crowd. If you have a rap crowd, play hip-hop. If you've got one customer in jazz, don't play hard rock.
If you are smart, you can play stuff you dig, stuff you want to hear, and still sell.
Now, let's see a few of the all-time greats.