Should Record Stores Start Selling Bootlegs? -
Songland Records

Songland Records

Should Record Stores Start Selling Bootlegs?

by Frog on February 18, 2013

in News

In his latest Counter Productive piece Songland Records owners Brian ‘Frog’ Harris asks “should record stores start selling bootleg albums to boost the business?”.

Songland Records

Songland Records

We all know the retail music industry is changing. Not too long ago it was “would you like that on record or cassette? Now, effectively, we’re saying to the public would you like that on physical or digital?”

It’s not eventual that all record stores (as I still like to call them) will die out. There is still great demand by people who cherish tangible music.

The industry needs to do a better, much better, job of combating the misinformation that CDs and DVDs will all be replaced by downloads and hopefully the upcoming Record Store Day can be used to counter punch a fresh and clear message. I’ve also been thinking that as the world has changed maybe the retail industry working together with other partners needs to look at a different angle.

The wholesalers (record companies) have spent the last 5+ years looking at other revenue streams. They’ve spread the market thin by placing product in Australia’s post offices, petrol stations, and a myriad of other outlets. Short-term gains, I think, cheapened the music, wasted marketing dollars and weakened the long service bricks and mortar stores.

We’ve seen in the U.K. recently the probable demise of HMV. That is a sad situation for everyone involved in the music industry and we should hope that they can resurface in a reduced capacity but it’s another example of the strain on stores and how we need to remain vibrant, interesting, and of course profitable. So I was thinking of ways that can still be achieved.

My store, Songland has a positioning statement of ‘The Home Of The Hard To Find’, and, as such, I look everywhere for things people want to buy. In these searches I have seen the huge amount of bootleg product that is available-and selling every second of every day. So I’m proposing the following question:

Is it time to allow stores to sell bootleg product?

Yes, I understand (and agree with) the initial howls of protests from the companies and the artists themselves but think about it for a few moments more.


1. This material is now selling anyway and in great quantities. Why not let the money go into the retail sector where it will help create a new revenue stream?

2. The material is only bought by die-hard fans that have already bought the genuine product.

3. It will create a huge point of difference and get people and fans back into stores where they will see everything on the shelves.

4. It will aid discussions and cross pollination of bands/songs/albums that can in turn generate new interest in music.

I’d love to hear what you think about this idea. Initially it kind of sounds abhorrent, but when I sat with the concept for a few days it also began to make sense if only because it is happening whether we like it or not. Why not grab hold of the reins and turn a totally negative situation (as it is now) into something that has some definite and tangible positive outcomes?

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