Aron’s Records closes – blames downloading

This is going to be some sucky news for anyone who actually enjoys record shopping but LA staple Aron’s Records is officially going out of business. This info is from LA Observed via Golden State Blog and while kind of upsetting, is not very shocking. What is shocking is where the blame is being directed. Anyone would have guessed fingers would be pointed at Amoeba since I can’t even count how many people I know stopped shopping at Aron’s the day Amoeba opened solely due to the ease of parking. Or maybe you could blame the shitty music the record industries have been cranking out for the last few years. But no…

[Klempner says] People simply aren’t buying CDs like they used to; they’re downloading, burning their own CDs, or file-trading online. “The iPod and lower-quality music is fine for them,” he says. “Some of our best customers haven’t bought CDs in years.”

Have you read a bigger crock of shit today? More like they haven’t bought a CD in year FROM ARON’S. Perhaps this guy didn’t get the memo that downloading not only doesn’t hurt record sales, it increases them. It’s such a cop-out to blame the “anonymous downloader.” The fact is that people are buying as much if not more music than ever, but they like it to be easy. While Aron’s was a great store it took an hour to find a parking spot and when I first started going there I was able to find what I was looking for, the last 3-4 times I went there they didn’t have what I wanted and weren’t interested in helping me find it. Amoeba takes seconds to park and since they have basically every record ever released in stock there’s no problems with finding things. And for new released, why even bother spending an hour going some place and parking and hunting for it when you can spend 2 minutes buying it on Amazon and have it shipped free? The problem isn’t downloading, it’s that the shopping experience sucks and people who don’t have to deal with that anymore aren’t going to.

24 thoughts on “Aron’s Records closes – blames downloading”

  1. I have to disagree entirely with you here.
    I know that I very, very rarely buy a CD nowadays. If I need a single song, I can usually get it off of iTunes, or even Kazaa. Full albums? BitTorrent.
    I’ll hit up Amoeba and drop some money now and again on used CDs for the rare stuff I can’t find online, and there’s a few artists I’ll always support by buying their albums (Frank Black rules).

    This doesn’t just apply to me – but to most of my friends. My family on the East Coast never goes to a music store. Its all iTunes and XM Radio for them.

    Have you been to Fox Hills Mall lately? (dead air…) There’s I think a dozen shoe stores, but not a single music store. Remember when there used to be at least three or four in every mall?
    The only reason Amoeba tends to be packed all the time is their vast quantity and awesome prices on used CDs. Its proximity to the Arclight is a huge help too.

    Aron’s is closing, indeed, because of a crappy location. But it survived for years in that crappy location because people would casually go to a record store and buy music. Amoeba indeed improved on Aron’s setup, and may have stolen some customers, but the reality is people infrequently buy hard copies of music nowadays.

    Also, I believe the study cited in the Boing Boing piece should be viewed with extreme skepticism, especially since its nearly three years old (the link the study is also dead), before mp3 players had become the norm – and three years in technology and entertainment is a LONG time.

  2. I agree with the original post, claiming that downloading music is hurting your business is a cope out. I will give you two great reasons why they are likely going out of business.

    1)Amoeba – why are you going to risk life and limb in Aron’s tiny parking lot or search for parking to chance they may not have what you are looking for when you could go to Amoeba, have plentiful garage parking and be almost 100% assured you can find what you want there.

    2)Neighborhood changes – have you been to the corner of Santa Monica and Highland recently (approx. where Aron’s is)? There isn’t much else around, so you would have to specifically be on a mission to Aron’s where as places to Amboeba (and I hate to mention it but..) the new Virgin Store can get lots of foot traffic because there are other things in the immediate area.

    Just saying.

  3. I think you can aruge all you want about whether downloading hurts or helps CD sales, but I still that Amoeba has to have had a much larger and more pronounced effect on Aron’s business. Aron’s didn’t survive for years in that crappy location because people were more inclined to casually go to a record store, they survived because there were no other good independant record stores in the area. None. And as far as I could tell, Aron’s never did anything to compete. I don’t know one single person that used to shop at Aron’s that’s even been there since Amoeba opened up. No exaggeration. They have, however, been to Amoeba…as well as buying tracks from iTunes and the like.

    I love Klempner’s quote, btw: “Some of our best customers haven’t bought CDs in years.” Well, if you’re calling people that haven’t bought CDs in years your “best customers,” then I think you’ve got a poor definition of what makes a good customer.

  4. [i]I love Klempner’s quote, btw: “Some of our best customers haven’t bought CDs in years.” Well, if you’re calling people that haven’t bought CDs in years your “best customers,” then I think you’ve got a poor definition of what makes a good customer.[/i]

    Very, very true.

    Amoeba, indeed, may have been the death nail in Aron’s business… but lets face it: if it weren’t for downloadable music, Aron’s would likely still be around, along with a number of other music stores.

    Amoeba may be the last of the independent record stores.

    By the way, checked out the new Virgin at Hollywood Highland. Surprisingly cool. But no surprise that the highlight and focus isn’t the music – its the assorted merchandise that they’re focusing on. More Wacko! than Record Town.

  5. For me, the biggest differentiators were (1) size and (2) organization of used records. I remember remarking the first time I was in Amoeba how their used CDs were just as organized and easy to flip through as the new CDs. At Aron’s you just had to dig through the letter of the alphabet closest to what you were looking for, and then hope you got close. At Amoeba, there are tabs for every artist who has more than a couple of discs in stock. Like night and day, and I never went to Aron’s again.

    Yeah, and the downloading thing is a crock. I still buy as many CDs, new and used, throughout the year as I ever have.

  6. I agree, I haven’t been to Aron’s in a long time, and I shop at Amoeba & Vinyl Fetish (up the street from Amoeba – better selection in several genres) every chance I get. I usually only buy vinyl, and I spend more per visit now than ever before.

    It’s not just that Amoeba sucked up the casual music buyer’s business, but they have a near monopoly on the collector’s market. The margins on quality vinyl are bigger than those on the latest Briney Spears album. Lose the collectors market and your profit drops real fast. They did nothing to respond to the biggest competition they could concievably face, and now they are paying for it.

  7. Amoeba may be the last of the independent record stores.

    Which is a scary thought, because how “indie” is Amoeba, really? I guess they’re not a Tower or a Virgin, though. I think people might be surprised how many small indie record shops are still around. Vinyl Fetish, Uponshop and Rockaway all seem to be doing just fine. As well as Rhino (though their “indie” status seems questionable to me too, given the size of the label backing them. I’m sure some people will totally freak out about me saying that).

    By the way, checked out the new Virgin at Hollywood Highland. Surprisingly cool. But no surprise that the highlight and focus isn’t the music – its the assorted merchandise that they’re focusing on. More Wacko! than Record Town.

    I haven’t been there yet, but I’ve heard the same thing. Kind of a disappointment. They really had a chance to build an awesome flagship and it sounds like they didn’t do much with it.

    It’s not just that Amoeba sucked up the casual music buyer’s business, but they have a near monopoly on the collector’s market.

    That’s a great point that I’m ashamed I didn’t bring up myself.

  8. The Rhino Records store is indie. The connection with the label was severed years ago when Rhino the label was purchased by Warner Music Group.

  9. Rockaway is also a shell of its former existence. A few years ago they cut the store in half and rented out the front part. It’s a tiny version of the once larger store.

  10. Yeah, I have to say that blaming downloading is a huge copout on the part of Aron’s. How about they just admit that their employee’s own disdain for customer service drove away the people who were willing to put up with them in exchange for a decent selection, until Amoeba came along? Amoeba’s clerks are surprisingly helpful and friendly, which is amazing considering how many more people come through that store than at smaller places where the employees often have far larger attitudes.

    I worked at another indie record store in Southern California for three years, and we had a meeting on the night before we reopened in a new location. The main idea the owner wanted us to remember, if we forgot everything else he said that night, was that “we are not going to be like Aron’s Records” – and everyone there knew exactly what he meant, even though we were 60 miles from Hollywood. I really think that Aron’s put themselves out of business.

  11. Man if most of you are the music fans of los angeles than we really have a problem.

    First, the traffic is just as bad if not worse around amoeba than at aron’s.

    Second, the parking at amoeba underground is impossible to get into on the weekends and so you have to park on the side streets or at the arclight.

    Third, amoeba prices for used cds are way higher than other places around time.

    Fourth, aron might have some attitude but music stores should have personality. If you want ass kissing, go to walmart or some other corporate shithole.

    But the real deal here is that the thrill of the hunt for music should trump petty concerns like traffic and parking.

    If all people care about is convenience and all they want is to listen to compressed music via the ipod then people are really dumb as I have long feared.

    I own an ipod for travelling convenience but I don’t compress the damn music so I can go around like a retard and say hey all my music is on here. Man those people who say that and listen with $20 headphones are not real music fans.

    Anyway real music fans hang out at real music stores and yeah I like amoeba too but please don’t dis Aron’s because of creature comforts!

  12. i can’t say that aron’s ever compelled me to come visit . .and i’m a pretty huge consumer of music. while the changing face of the industry is making it hard for independent record stores to make ends meet, it’s pretty commonplace to see this sort of thing happening.

    as for other record stores in LA, I have to say that I find amoeba kind of annoying, they may have a ton of records but i can seldom find those few weird records that i always seem to be looking for. also, it seems like the new stuff and the DVD prices are a bit steep.

    What record store do I love in LA? Why hasn’t anyone mentioned it yet? Sea Level on sunset in echo park. friendly knowledgeable staff, good location, good selection and fun events all the time. c’mon!

  13. People who spend more energy worrying about sound quality than appreciating the music itself are the ones who are not real music fans. And this is coming from someone who owns a high-end home stereo system (Koga’s heard it, he can vouch for how good it sounds). Because of that, it might be easy for me to say this, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. I have compressed music on my iPod. Yes, it sounds like shit compared to my home stereo. But I get into the music and I forget about it, or at least stop worrying about it.

    Regardless of what you feel a music store should be, the bottom line is, the customer is usually right, no matter how big a moron you may think he is. Being hip and elitist and all that bullshit isn’t what consistently brings in the sales. Jack Black may have been entertaining in _High Fidelity_, but if for some reason I needed help at a music store, and the clerk I talked to was like his character in the movie, I’d probably beat the living crap out of him. One can have taste and opinions and still be humble and helpful.

    As for “the thrill of the hunt”, people will hunt where the hunting is better first. If they happen to find what they’re looking for at Amoeba, there is no reason to go to Aron’s, regardless of whether or not the traffic and parking around Aron’s is truly worse.

    As for downloading, if I really like something and find myself listening to it often, I’ll buy it on CD or vinyl, for both the sound quality and the cover art/liner notes. Especially with classical music, where there are so many different interpretations of a given piece, buying the music on CD is a must.

  14. Downloading? I don’t think so. Amoeba Records caused the downfall of Aron’s. I am not crying. I used to shop at Aron’s, but with Amoeba right down the street, why bother?

    Back in the day Aron’s was one of the few places to get good electronic music on CD, but you had to get there on release day because they would only get 1-2 copies of anything.

    I don’t download, and I work in the music business. Downloading is not killing the music industry – the industry is killing itself with its laborious, excruciatingly slow response to the technology.


  15. Downloading is not killing the music industry – the industry is killing itself with its laborious, excruciatingly slow response to the technology.

    Totally accurate. I think if iTunes and other downloading sites made music available for .50 a song, they’d make a ton of money. Right now even a $1 is too much, because you give a dollar a second thought. At .50 a song, people would be impulse buying like crazy.

    However, downloading IS killing the record store industry, and it doesn’t matter if its legal or illegal. While Amazon may have damaged some sales from outlets, the immediacy of downloading, plus the ability to choose select songs instead of entire albums, is why record stores will continue to close more and more.

    And don’t think people will still need record stores for vinyl or other types of high quality sound, because as download speeds and audio formats will improve, eventually online music quality will EXCEED what has been previously available.

  16. Of course the death of any sort of indie record store is an occasion for true sadness, as it signals yet another step on the march toward the great bland lowest common denominator that will surely claim us all.

    Fucking sad. Yet…

    I cannot say I am shedding all that many tears for Aron’s, nor do know I many indie-store lovers who are, either.

    But, first, a bit of backtracking here:

    For a number of years, I was co-manager of a little indie store in Mar Vista called Record Rover, which was located at 12204 Venice Bl. Unfortunately, we went out of business because the cunt landlord (Grace) wanted to renew our lease at nearly another thousand dollars per month– which meant that Rover, being a store that served the poky local community and was very much a niche store, had to die.


    Yes, one could say downloading, even back then (we closed at the end of June ’02) may have had something to do with it; but, in the end, it was that graying, twisted old cunt Grace that just decided to fuck us out of our existence.

    Hey, it happens….

    So what, if anything, makes me an expert on the demise of Aron’s? Well, several things, since you are asking….

    From a consumer/seller standpoint, count me as one of the many who felt the staff at Aron’s was just the worst. Long before I got the job at Record Rover, I was among the many either selling or trying to buy at Aron’s– and, every fucking time I was met with nothing less (or should I say “more”) than some sort of standardized, pushy-assed snotty attitude; as though I (as a patron) were somehow blighting their quasi-hip lil’ fake ‘alternative’ universe!

    Believe me, folks, this did not happen merely once; but, every last goddamn time I ventured into that store– and this goes back to the early/mid 90’s. If I was selling, I got nothing but attitude from the cunts behind the counter; and the same story goes when I was buying.

    It was like they were conferring upon me some sort of great favor by even deigning to look at my shit for sale, or ring up my purchases; when, in reality, they were nothing more (and actually far less) than a collection of ready-made cliche stereotypes of what an Australian filmmaker might dream of when trying to think of what a Hollywood record store might be like: Overly tattooed dimwits weraing crisp, new “Gang Of Four” shirts while sporting as many facial piercings as their balsa wood heads could support– and all of them with their “ooh, we’re trying to be dark and moody!” disapproving glances, as though anyone gave a shit….

    Sure, it must be said that we at Record Rover would ourselves make jokes at customers expenses in terms of what they were trying to sell or buy; but, the difference was that we usually did it after they left– and those we were cunts towards to their faces got the full measure of our disdain because they popped off at us first. When this was the case, it was every man for himself, right?

    At Aron’s, there never was such a line to walk or cross, as everyone just got shit because the staff was beyond being so full of themselves.

    What made it all so funny was the self-appointed nature of their collective grandeur: Just because some fop dude or cunt possessing X amount of tats and piercings mixed with just the right-for-the-moment newly minted Bauhaus t-shirt does NOT make them some sort of cultural avatar– it just makes them more entrants in a line of cookie-cutter idiots who think they’re the shit because they’re the guy(s) with one pinky nail painted black, or they’re the pushy fat chicks with multiple piercings manning the register with that blank-eyed stare requisitioned from central casting– as though any of that shit ever made them unique, or pre-qualified to make any of the rest of us feel like assholes for patronizing their little slice of poseur heaven.

    It did not. It just made them goofy-assed laughing stock for those of us who decided after awhile to never go there again. And, it was that (not Amoeba, nor dowloading) which eventually killed the smug cunt on the hill that was Aron’s Records.

    Piss off enough people, and enough people will stay away.

    Three plus years on, and I still miss Record Rover, as there was never any better place to work (if you like doing this type of shit for no real money, I mean), listen to music, get high, listen to more music, and deal with customers who, in some cases, are NOT dimwits, and are as much music geeks as I was then, and always will be.

    Despite Amoeba, Best Buy, WalMart, downloading and all the other things that some might see as an impediment to a truly indie record store, my dream is to, one day, open such a store of my own.

    Maybe it succeeds, maybe it fails; but, as the owner of such a possible future enterprise, I would hope no applicant cites as an influence Aron’s Records, as they will immediately be disregarded on hat fact alone. Period.

    Yes, in theory, any mom-pop shop taking the long dark train sucks; but, from my experience with Aron’s, I can only be gracious enough to say…

    “Bye-bye, assholes. Fuck you for all your fake snide wannabe attitude; and good luck to everyone trying to either re-enroll in Cal Arts or eke out a job as the snottiest bag person EVER at Trader Joes”….

    While it is, yes, sad another small record store has gone; the fact that it is Aron’s makes me ask only this question:

    What took so long?

    While a number of people kissed their feet during their existence, I always wondered why anyone would suck the butt of such a bunch of fashion-first/function-second dipshits, as it made no sense to me:

    Fairly lame selection, incompetent/insolent staff who didn’t care anything about issues other than how their piercings and mascara looked as they themselves looked down oon those who populated their mysteriously popular store…

    I just didn’t get it.

    Bye bye, you one-dimensional carboard cutout shits. See you in hell…

    chris checkman

  17. I used to shop at Aron’s once a week until Amoeba opened. After that, there was no need to go to Aron’s. The staff at Aron’s wasn’t an issue for me. Quite simply, Amoeba’s greater selection, less claustraphobic feeling and more abundant parking offered a much better shopping experience.

  18. Checkman, spot on; BTW loved shopping @ Rover, always found rare promo 12’s and turned around and sold them for 3X what I paid!

    Aron’s was THE place to shop for music for eons in LA but its’ time to close came and yes, Amoeba was large in that outcome but so was downloading and MP3’s, etc.

    The previous poster who mentioned that Aron’s organization skills were lacking, also spot on. Things were haphazardly organized and frankly digging through the mountains of wax/CD’s got old, and quickly.

    I will miss the place, anytime a piece of history joins history, it’s a bit sad. There is still one little-known joint up in Pasadena called Poobah’s that hopefully will continue to hang in there, unlike Aron’s.

  19. someone mentioned rhino in westwood as still being around, but they are now closed and having their final parking lot sales on the 21st and 22nd.

    i miss record rover, always wondered what happened to that store.

    uponshop in silverlake is closed too (the second incarnation of a previous, but similar store) – but in their case i don’t think amoeba didn’t have much to do with that. they priced themselves out of their own niche market by selling thrift-store quality records with beats & breaks on them for goldmine M- grade prices.

    i used to love arons ’cause i lived within walking distance and i also love to dig thru mountains of old vinyl. arons actually did beat amoeba’s pricing by at least $2 on many of the things i would buy new on cd. i never had a problem with the staff but then again i never really asked them for much.

    i never go to amoeba if i can help it ’cause the place is sensory overload and i always feel like i’m overlooking something or that they have what i want in stock but it’s hidden or misplaced somewhere. as someone else mentioned, parking and driving in that area of hollywood on a weekend is a nightmare as well.

    sea level is great, more people need to go there. poobah’s is great too, worth the trip. even the “other” Rhino in claremont is almost worth the trip, i always find something good there whenever i’m in the neighborhood.

    a new niche DJ store called turntablelab just opened on fairfax, near canter’s deli. be interesting to see how long they last and how they figure into the amoeba-mp3-itunes-ipod debate.

    this post is making me have the desire to go record shopping.

  20. aron’s was great, record rover was alright. some staff was rude at either store. aron’s had great selection and a large station of walkmen to preplay used cd’s. amoeba is stupid, it’s much worse than the one in san francisco on haight. i’d rather do tower on sunset if it’s still around.

  21. yo i went to arons almost EVERY week and got parking JUST FINE

    Arons let you bring a portal record player, and had listening tables setup. amoeba provides no way to listen to vinyl prior to purchase

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