Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weirdo Records- Niche Markets Never Die

Cambridge- Don’t be frightened by volumes of old records and cds, vintage toys, and posters of Japanese Beatlesque bands in this used record store; hard-to-find avant and experimental music is Weirdo Records owner, Angela Sawyer’s specialty. “If you’re curious and want to check out some weird stuff,” says Sawyer while updating her online record website, “You know that several people [record aesthetes] have spent a long time separating the wheat from the chaff.”

Like many record clerks, Sawyer is extensively knowledgeable. She had worked at local record shops for fifteen years when she decided to dabble with selling records online. Sawyer’s online business began in 2006. “It was just for fun, it was just two steps over from a my space page, no big deal,” said Sawyer. In nine months sales from her website were skyrocketing and her career working at a record store become a secondary income.

“The economy started to go to crap,” said Sawyer, “People were like you got that other thing and your not here any ways so …I got let go.”

In February, as her independent retailer business grew, Sawyer decided to launch a hole-in-the wall specialty record shop in Central Square. “So far business has been great,” said Sawyer, her clientele is mostly 25-60 year old male music seekers, “It’s been so busy that I can barely keep up with it.”

Sawyer is more than happy to recommend some great music to you. She is currently listening to world psychedelia from the sixties s and experimental noise. “For some people music is more important than food and they show it buy eating ramen all the time and spending all their money on it,” Sawyer said, “I listen to music when I’m awake.”

According to Almighty Institute of Music, a market firm, 3,100 record stores have closed since 2003. Sawyer isn’t concerned about music piracy, record stores going under, or the fall of the music industry. “If you look for music on the internet it’s almost impossible because there’s too much,” said Sawyer, she continued, “The way people’s heads work is not like a computer. There’s no place contemporary culture for aesthetics except in a record stores.”

As retail record stores plummet because of the recession, the niche market for record shops can perhaps remain strong due to the loyal market base.

“If the economy is the size of Central Square and the music industry is the size of this room. My store is the size of a microscopic spec on my fingernail. So even if it is sinking there is a lot of room for me to move around, said Sawyer.”