Well, somebody had to do it.
After several years of thinking about it, debating the pros and cons, and talking it over with my business partner, I defied conventional business wisdom and forged ahead last month, adding secondhand music CDs to the product mix at Dasa Books, my shop in Bangkok.
My decision to “try it and see what happens” has pretty much been my way of doing business. Throughout more than thirty years of managing or owning various retail businesses, I have consistently defied conventional wisdom and simply done what I wanted, or what I thought customers might want, regardless of popularity or trends. I’ve found that if you cater to a niche market and know your product you can succeed. And CDs have become one such niche market. But nowadays, even in a city as large and cosmopolitan as Bangkok, finding a good selection of music on CD, either new or secondhand, is becoming more and more difficult. Frankly, the selection in local shops sucks. To find CDs that I want, I have to either buy them when I go to Kuala Lumpur (where the Rock Corner branches still have a good selection) or order from online dealers.
Statistics in recent years show that CD sales are declining, of that there is no doubt. Thus many “experts” have declared that CDs are now obsolete, convinced that all music lovers are suddenly going to abandon their CD collection and start downloading and streaming music instead of buying actual discs. Well, hold on there, all you geniuses, maybe that’s not quite the case. Many music addicts still prefer buying and listening to music on compact disc. You can weigh the pros and cons of CDs versus vinyl, or even throw in downloads into the argument, but the fact remains that many people who buy and collect music still want CDs.
So yeah, I like CDs, and I buy several hundred each year to satisfy my addiction, but I am a dying breed? I was excited about finally selling music in my shop, but frankly I wasn’t sure how much of a demand that there would be for CDs. If you listen to all those experts and doomsayers, they will tell you that digital is the future and “nobody buys CDs anymore.”
Thankfully, I discovered that’s not the case. We started selling CDs in mid-November, and for our opening stock I plucked about 500 “non-essential” CDs from my personal collection (How many do I still have? Let’s just say that didn’t make much of a dent in my collection!). Since that time the stock has continued to grow as customers have sold us more discs. We now have over 1,300 CDs in stock and the total would be higher, but a strange thing happened: we’ve already sold nearly 400 of the darn things! No market for CDs in this digital age? I beg to differ. Needless to say, I’m happy with the CD sales thus far, and judging from the feedback we’ve gotten, many diehard music lovers are very happy and excited to have another place in Bangkok to buy CDs.
Meanwhile, here are the CDs that I’ve been playing a lot at home and at work recently, reading to close out this year with a sonic bang!
Les Ambassadeurs du Hotel de Bamako
Lee Hazlewood – Poet, Fool or Bum/Back on the Street Again
The Idle Race – Back to the Story
Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
Wet Willie – Manorisms/Which One’s Willie?
Various Artists – Detroit Funk Vaults: Funk and Soul From Dave Hamilton 1968-79
Leon Ware – Moon Ride
Shawn Colvin – Uncovered
Game Theory – Real Nighttime (30th Anniversary Edition)
Various Artists – Loose Funk: Rare Soul from Sound Stage 7 Records
Various Artists – Haiti Direct
Frankie Lee – American Dreamer
Continental Drifters – Drifted: In the Beginning & Beyond
Neil Diamond – The Bang Years 1966-1968
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – The Travelling Kind
Hot Tuna – Burgers
Various Artists – Super Funk 3
Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers
Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix
Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone in the Universe
Passion Pit – Kindred
Red Garland Quintet – Soul Junction
Icehouse – Man of Colours
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Stranger in Town
Bob Welch – French Kiss
Squeeze – Cradle to the Grave
Goldberg – Misty Flats
Various Artists – Step Inside My Soul
Catherine Howe – What a Beautiful Place
Jefferson Starship – Red Octopus
Funk Inc. – Hangin’ Out/Superfunk
The 9th Creation – Bubble Gum
Marlena Shaw – The Spice of Life
Various Artists – Los Angeles Soul: Kent-Modern’s Legacy 1962-71
Johnny Hammond – Gears/Forever Taurus
Various Artists – In Perfect Harmony: Sweet Soul Groups 1968-77
Tame Impala – Lonerism
Roy Wood – The Wizzard
Various Artists – Howie B: Another Late Night
Todd Rundgren & Emil Nikolaisen– Runddans