Mar 302008
Authors: Bijah Gibson

Two local music stores are feeling many of the ill effects of America’s suffering recording industry, which has taken huge hits from alternative media like the Internet offering cheaper music options like file sharing that has allowed for easier methods of music piracy.

ABCD’s, which was the first CD-only store in Fort Collins, will be closing its doors in mid April, and The Finest, a competing store, is up for sale.

ABCD’s owner Walt Werren began to see sales drop dramatically last summer.

“What we thought might be a fluke stayed in a continual funk,” Werren said of the poor sales his store has experienced.

Werren said the trend that has affected record stores across the nation is the largely because record labels didn’t do anything to prevent the new media from affecting the industry.

“The blame falls pretty strongly on the labels,” Werren said. “They were reactive instead of proactive.”

Werren remembers that when he his store opened in 1987, CDs were cutting edge. The first threat to his store came when “big-box” stores like Best Buy came into town and began to offer CDs at much lower prices, using their buying power and large advertising budgets to muscle out independent stores. The Internet came next, and the industry continued to go downhill. Werren believes record labels hurt themselves during that time.

Once his store closes next month, Werren will hunt for a new job. He hopes to remain in Fort Collins, which has provided him with a large, loyal clientele and employees for 20 years.

Jim Risser, owner of local music store The Finest, cannot imagine his life without music. Risser has worked at the local music company since 1981 and purchased the company, which includes stores in Greeley, Fort Collins and Windsor, in 2003. Risser is now attempting to sell his business, and hopes that someone with energy and passion for music will buy it.

“I’m trying to sell while it [The Finest] is still attractive to someone to buy,” said Risser in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

Risser also emphasized that album sales have steadily declined since the rise of online music downloading and file sharing, but like Walt Werren he does not completely blame the Internet for the decline of the album sales industry.

“Our own industry killed itself by not embracing the Internet.” Risser said.

Risser also blames the decline in album sales on something he calls the three-headed monster, which is composed of the Internet (both legal and illegal downloading and file sharing), “big-box” companies that sell albums at a loss to muscle out the competition and the album industry itself which refuses to drop prices.

For Risser, his business is not out of the picture yet because it does more than just sell CDs.

“We’re a niche,” said Risser. “We still have the record store vibe. We can get things overnight and have it the next day. We also have download and burn kiosks in our Greeley and Fort Collins stores.”

With the rise of Internet downloading and online file sharing, the recorded music industry has taken a major hit. According a Nielsen Soundscan study, the sale of albums in the United States continues to drop.

In 2000, Americans purchased 785.1 million albums, a figure which dropped to 588.2 million in 2006.

More people, particularly younger generations, obtain their music online, either by paying for songs on sites like or downloading music from file-sharing sites like Limewire.

Students at CSU are no exception to this rule.

For Annie Stenseth, a freshman double-majoring in business and family and consumer sciences, lower prices and the convenience of online purchasing keep her from buying CDs.

Staff writer Bijah Gibson can be reached at

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