Arizona Daily Wildcat
Despite study saying college area record store sales are down, UA area sales remain constant
Free, easily accessible music downloaded from the Internet has become hugely popular in recent years, but proprietors of local music stores say technology is still of little threat to their businesses.
A national study on music buyers' habits conducted earlier this year found that while overall record sales have increased 12 percent since the widespread availability of music online, record stores located near college campuses have seen a 4 percent dip in sales.
However, for shops near the University of Arizona, Internet music providers like Napster and mp3.com - both of which have experienced losses in court due to copyright infringement - have not presented competition for building music collections the traditional way - by purchasing compact discs.
Maggie Anderson, owner of Zip's Records, 946 E. University Blvd., said business has remained brisk despite the recent trend in downloading music.
"Not everybody is into free stuff," Anderson said. "One or two songs may be good, but they want the whole album."
Anderson said Zip's clients remain faithful because of word of mouth and the experience of going out and shopping.
"People still want to come in and shop and browse and see all the cool stuff we have in the store - and you can't get that off of Napster," she said.
Jarrett Hankinson, night manager at Zia Record Exchange, 3370 E. Speedway Blvd., also said business at his store has not been noticeably affected since the online music boom.
"It's hard to say - we still do constant business," Hankinson said.
Hankinson, who samples music from the Internet himself, said the popularity of playing music on personal computers has actually brought in more customers - people often come into the store desiring to buy an album after they heard a snippet of a song online.
A survey conducted by Rolling Stone magazine reflects what Anderson and Hankinson have seen - 54 percent of respondents said their music buying habits have not changed, while 36 percent said they have purchased more albums since music has become available at no charge on the Web.
Anderson said online song-sharing services are a benefit in theory but are ultimately unfair to musicians.
"I think Napster is a great concept, but eventually, they're going to have to start charging because it's not fair to the artists," Anderson said.
Napster, one of the major networks that allow members to share mp3s, had been under fire recently by the Recording Industry Association of America as well as musicians - such as the hard rock band Metallica - for copyright infringement. Pending the outcome of court appeals filed by Napster, the site is still up and running.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.