The Rise & Fall Of Tower Records

by Christopher Paul on June 12, 2011

When I first started coming to New York, I quickly realized if you wanted a particular CD or movie, you went to one of two places (in my mind anyway) J&R or Tower Records. Though I know some of my friends and family have an affinity for HMV, I have to be honest and say I hadn’t heard of them until they had all but closed.

But Tower Records was almost everywhere that mattered to me. They were in SOHO and they were in the Upper West Side. There were even a few spots in New Jersey. And they were huge; they did have almost everything.

But like Sam Goody, HMV, and so many others, Tower Records did not survive. They declared bankruptcy in the mid 2000’s and closed all their doors soon after. I remember going into a Tower Records with my then-girlfriend-now-wife while on a date (after a movie, I think). I also remember walking around SOHO with her and talking about how it was sad that TR was closing; Tower gave her many more memories than it did me.

If you ever dared to wonder why Tower failed, it’s probably easy to blame iTunes, Amazon, and others. But I think their problems ran deeper than the digital age. And one documentary by Colin Hanks is looking to show the entire history of Tower Records including what made it great and what caused its demise.

If you were a fan of Tower, the ‘good old days of vinyl’,or just a music fan (there’s a few of you I’m thinking about) you might want to back the Kickstarter project which aims to produce the documentary. The project is already fully funded but there are several backing levels and, if you have the scratch, you can get some pretty cool stuff out of it. I’m tempted to back it just to get my name and the names of my music loving friends and family in the credits. But the 7″ vinyl recordings of the songs used in the film is also pretty enticing. If I had the money, I’d certainly want to attend (or send two people) to the private screening in LA.

You can read more about the project at Kickstarter.

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