Everyone Thinks the Internet Killed Tower Records. But That’s Not the Real Story…

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“Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But that’s not the story.”

Established in 1960, Tower Records eventually swelled to more than 200 stores in thirty countries across give countries.  Now, there’s a documentary that chronicles the crumbled institution.  All Things Must Pass was created (and Kickstarted) by Colin Hanks; here’s the trailer.

More details here. 

12 Responses

  1. Literati X

    Tower Records attempted to make the ultimate transition from brick and mortar to digital . They were one of the elite early movers into the over twelve years ago. Rumor has it is they fucked with the ‘ Legend Of The X ‘ and evaporated overnight. . .

  2. bmbacchus

    As a past Tower employee, I really feel the downhill came when they stopped having individual buyers do all of the buying and let computers fill refillment orders. They still might not have made it past the online age, but I believe they might have saved a few key stores in major markets if they didn’t go they way of most big chain retail with computer re-orders. Just my two cents.

    • Paul Lanning

      The suburban stores didn’t work. Consumers in Paramus NJ or Stamford CT weren’t buying jazz, classical, opera, world, folk, or anything else that wasn’t a big smash hit.

      The reduction in dealer margin that came with the conversion to CD led to numerous problems.

      The Supreme Court ruling against MAP removed the barrier to predatory loss-leadering by huge non-music retailers.

  3. GGali

    When they claimed bankruptcy, they failed to pay me and a whole lot of other Indie labels hundreds of thousand of dollars. So they can ROT IN HELL. and bask in KARMA!

    Sorry, i got a little bitter!

  4. George

    2 hours long… People will spend 2 hours just to find out what killed Tower Records?
    I’d read a transcript .txt file, that would take 5 minutes…

    • jeffc

      Yes – so hard to conceive that somebody might be interested in a story that you are not interested in, isn’t it?
      Why do they even make movies anymore?

  5. blahblahblah

    I worked as a buyer/manager for Tower for quite a while. It was always a little hard to know exactly what was going on at the main office from NYC, but the word was that we were going under due to expanding well past the time to be doing so and being unable to get out of long leases to scale down. No matter what Tower could have done better, they wouldn’t have been around much longer except for a few stores, perhaps. It’s great that small stores can now thrive without the big chains, but it was pretty cool that there was a short time when a store the size of Tower on 4th and B’way could literally be packed with people from all walks of life and every taste and degree of interest in music. I don’t think anyone is that excited to go to a streaming site from their lonely room on new release day every week to see what’s there. It surely isn’t helping the music business that millions of people now know just how many albums are released every week and just how bland and unoriginal nearly all of them are. That was a bit of information only the insiders were privy to. ; )

    • bmbacchus

      It was pretty cool and it definitely breathed new life into the business at the time especially in NY.

      • Paul Lanning

        All things considered, 4th & Bwy was the best record store anywhere ever. The East Village location, the clientele ranging from celebrities to lowlifes, the overwhelming selection, and the unforgettable pantheon of Retail Gods—Ramey! Bacchus! Harman! Benzian! Ray Edwards!!! Gregor! Sherri Stone! Matthew! Tim Devin! The cassette dept that often resembled a mosh pit…my ghost will forever haunt that block.

        • Anonymous

          Fuck Tim Devin! He tried to get me fired from the 4th and B’way store because we had words at the 68th store and I left.