Look for the Karma that Benefits

Galen Brown makes an argument that the demise of Tower Records is no big deal. I almost believe him. Still, there’s one telling fact no one’s brought up. Last spring Tower finally opened a “Kyle Gann” bin. A few months later, the place “goes bankrupt.”

Coincidence? I think not.


  1. Art Jarvinen says

    Re: the Kyle Gann bin.
    Some years ago I met a composer who had a job at Borders. I told him how impressed I was by seeing bins for David Lang and other such composers. Wow, they must be making some headway I thought. This guy told me that part of his job was to make bins for artists who were guaranteed to not sell anything, so it would be real easy to find their stuff when it came time to send it back to the distributor.
    KG replies: I feel much better now.

  2. Tom DePlonty says

    I’m glad to know you killed Tower — all this time I thought it was me. I noticed that whenever I would special-order new music from the store in Burlington, MA — stuff like Scelsi or the Julius Eastman set, that most “classical” fans wouldn’t touch — another copy of the CD would also show up in the bins. And sit there. For months. Some of them were still there, last time I checked out the going-out-of-business sale.

  3. says

    Hmm, I might be stabbing a sacred cow here, but when in 2003 I made my first ever visit to New York City I made special care to immediately track down the legendary ‘Tower Records’, having heard of it’s near-magical back catalogue of discs. Alas, on arrival I found a rather pitiful collection that compared in no way to Other Music across the road or Kim’s DVDs a few blocks away. Sadly, I could find no connection between the legend and the reality. Perhaps I just came too late?
    BTW I do almost all my main label shopping now at http://www.bleep.com and other such sites ..
    KG replies: Of course, when it comes to avant-garde music, Other Music is twenty times the store Tower was, no question. I’m not sentimental about Tower’s quality, nor do I imagine that the place was driven by anything more idealistic than rampant greed. But between Tower and Amazon, you had two complementary ways to brouse through tremendous quantity. It was great being able to run into uptown Tower before and after concerts, notice that Naxos had recorded Fry’s “Santa Claus” Symphony, run across Anton Reicha’s overture in 5/8 meter, find oddities in pre-1960 music that it wouldn’t have occurred to me to search out on the internet. For the latest in Charlemagne Palestine or Harold Budd or Luc Ferrari, of course, I wouldn’t even have given Tower a thought. And, Tower gave me a bin. Last I looked, Other Music still has me in Miscellaneous G.