Sign of a sea change

Summary:This is the way a titan ends, not with a bang, but with a squadron of emaciated temps brought in to march picket-like promotional signs up and down Newport Boulevard (and no doubt Sunset Boulevard); sullen attendants in a funeral procession.As Charles Andrews writes,If you read the business pages, it was not news that giant music retailer Tower Records was in trouble.

This is the way a titan ends, not with a bang, but with a squadron of emaciated temps brought in to march picket-like promotional signs up and down Newport Boulevard (and no doubt Sunset Boulevard); sullen attendants in a funeral procession.

As Charles Andrews writes,

If you read the business pages, it was not news that giant music retailer Tower Records was in trouble. But the speed and finality of its dispatch was a shocker to most. You’ve come to assume there’s a longer process through refinancing, restructuring, Chapter 11 and such before the patient is finally declared dead. Tower did restructure two years ago and filed for bankruptcy protection August 24, but the bidding process for takeover that began Thursday, Oct. 5, was completed Friday and the new owners, Great American Group, immediately declared that all 3,000 Tower employees would be let go as soon as every bit of inventory could be liquidated – sale starts Saturday.

My husband, who suspects I might be a card-carrying member of the Pirate Party (he's wrong; just the EFF), asked if I was happy about this turn of events.  "Happy?"  Of course not.  But aside from "the speed and finality of its dispatch," is Tower's official death a surprise?  Not a bit.  It's been dead in the Steve Gillmor Office-is-Dead sense for a long time, so seeing the final economic confirmation is just another "yep."  Charles Andrews also muses,

Maybe we no longer need a Tower Records in every community, because everything except the personal touch is available on the Internet, and the people buying the music know that. But if the day of the super-sized chains has passed, hasn’t the relevance of the mega record labels (now down to five, world-wide) who supply them actually taken an earlier death blow, through pro quality home studio recordings and increasingly-sophisticated Internet distribution and promotion, even though they stagger mortally irrelevant into the 21st century?

Of course, the personal touch is available on the Internet, whether it takes the form of the entertaining notes CD Baby includes with its sales, trusted recommending voices in the online community, or the personal connection accomplished when artists participate directly in that community.

So while I'm not "happy" to see Tower go by the wayside, not happy it couldn't adapt and adjust, I do look forward to and welcome — for all our sakes — those who can and will.  And to the day when it might no longer be necessary to employ clandestine third party remedial measures to render one's video programming watchable.

Topics: Legal

About

Denise Howell is an appellate, intellectual property and technology lawyer who enjoys broad industry recognition for her expertise on the intersection of emerging technologies and law. For further details please see her professional background and speaking schedule. Denise's career is characterized by her passionate engagement in intell... Full Bio

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