Update October 2009
The evolution of the record industry continues (or should I say, the devolution of the record industry continues) with labels and stores shutting their doors so much that in some cities, there are no record stores at all anymore. Dc is not immune to these closings either. In recent years, several stores have closed, including DJ Hut, which shut their doors in April of this year.
According to one of our primary distributors, there are now less than 1300 record stores in the US that carry new CD and LP releases. In 1996 there over 11,000.
When Crooked Beat started in 1997, vinyl was around 30% of our total sales the first year. It roughly stayed that way until 2007, when vinyl LPs surged past CDs for the first time. Today in 2009, vinyl now constitutes over 80% of our sales, which includes our internet/mailorder sales. So, in the last few years, we have steadily cut back on cd inventory to make more room for vinyl.
Over the past year, hundreds of customers have come in and inquired about the changes in the world of music and what it means to us. Below is some more information about that and also some changes we have implemented and are still continuing to work out at the store.
Crooked Beat Online Store
We are continuing to add more LPs to our eBay store every day. Hopefully our entire database will also be on our online store by spring of 2010.
For those of you who do not know, we have been selling online and shipping worldwide since 1999. As of June of 2009, online sales now account for around 28% of our store's total sales.
To access our ebay store go to www.crookedbeat.com and click on the link at left that says "Buy LPs".
New & Used LPs
Crooked Beat has the largest selection of new vinyl in the entire Dc area and we plan on expanding even more in the next few weeks. New 180 gram vinyl, packaged with an MP3 download or a physical cd, continues to be very popular with customers. Not all of the labels are doing this yet with new releases, but it is becoming more commonplace.
Our used vinyl selection is also quite extensive. It's stocked with many hard to find titles covering the genres punk/indie/rock/soul/reggae/jazz and it's being added to everyday.
Though many stores are phasing CDs out, we will continue to sell select new releases. We will also continue to sell Dc-area artists' releases, various reggae titles and our top 500 best-selling CD titles.
For those who have been buying CDs from us for over the last five years, you will not notice much of a difference, other than that there are fewer major label back catalog CD titles (and most of those are slowly being released on vinyl).
We will still carry all the new and back catalog CD releases from labels like Merge, Matador, Secretly Canadian, Dischord, Warp, Kill Rock Stars and others.
We are now much more selective in taking used CD trade-ins - we're only interested in titles that we stock new & out-of-print or hard-to-find stuff.
We are also carrying very recent releases from various indie rock/pop labels. We recently worked out a deal with a distributor and a few labels where we will be able to obtain new releases, promos and discontinued CDs at a large wholesale discount.
Because of this, used CDs will now range in price from .99 cents to $4.99.
We will continue to stock hard to find t-shirts from various artists from all genres. Please check out in the coming weeks for a very large shipment of new t-shirts that is scheduled to arrive.
We will also continue to carry around 50 or so very interesting and unique books including:
The Psychic Soviet by Ian Svenonius
Keep Your Eyes Open - Fugazi by Glen Friedman
Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad
and the 33 1/3 book series, which features artists such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Pogues, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, PJ Harvey and many, many more.
We are also just starting to bring posters back in. We have over a hundred in stock now and we will be adding to that in the coming months.
Bill, Helen & staff
Update - November 2008
For the second year in a row (2008) New & Used Vinyl LPs have outsold CDs at Crooked Beat. LPs now account for around 70% of our total sales. We will be increasing our vinyl selection even more in the coming months.
New CDs: Crooked Beat will continue to stock New CDs but on a more limited basis. Effective Immediately: we will now only primarily stock CDs from indie and import labels such as Touch & Go, Matador, Dischord, Merge, 4AD, Sub Pop, Numero, Bomp, Damaged Goods, Cherry Red, Secretly Canadian, Ace, Bear Family, Soul Jazz, Anti, etc.
Though we have always been a specialty store primarily focusing on punk and independent import titles, we have carried major-label titles in the past. Major label titles, so far in 2008, account for less than 1% of our CD sales. Therefore, we will be limiting our inventory selection to select major-label artists including but not limited to: Sonic Youth, Smiths, Clash, Velvet Underground, TV on Radio and Otis Redding, etc.
We will STILL continue to special order any major-label CD releases for customers.
Used CDs: We will now only carry Used CDs that mirror our selection of New CDs. e.g., Crooked Beat always stocks New CDs by artists such as Built To Spill, Magnetic Fields, Cat Power. Therefore, we will usually accept them as USED trade-ins provided they are in good condition.
Update - February
In 2007, CD sales from the
major labels (WEA, Capitol, Sony/BMG,
UNI) and their affiliates accounted for
less than 1% of our total sales.
Therefore, effective February 1, 2008, we
will only be stocking select titles from these
labels on CD. A large number of major label
titles are now being reissued on LP vinyl that
usually come with a free MP3 download offered
inside the album jacket. LPs outsold CDs at
Crooked Beat for the first time ever in
Due to this, we will be expanding
our vinyl selection over the next several
We will also continue to specialize
in and stock CDs from literally hundreds of
independent and import labels.
Bill & Helen
Since 1997, Crooked Beat has always prided
itself in being fiercely independent by
primarily focusing on and specializing in
stocking releases from independent and import
labels. We also have always carried a lot of
New CD Releases from the major record
labels (WEA, Capitol, Sony/BMG, UNI) and
In recent years, however,
most of these major labels have not been making
their New CD Releases available to
independent Distributors to purchase at a fair
price in comparison to the prices the big box
stores are paying for the same product. This, in
turn, has caused a lot of our distributors to no
longer consistently stock-- and sometimes not
even stock in their warehouses-- certain major
label New CD Releases at all. This has
made it very difficult for independent stores to
obtain a larger number of major label New
Furthermore, there is now a
substantial penalty being enforced by One
Stops/Distributors in the event that an
independent record store returns major label
product that does not sell. This makes it
difficult for an independent store to even want
to consider stocking, and more importantly,
taking a chance on a new artist that is
affiliated with a major label.
Due to these
unfortunate circumstances and the fact being
that major label sales on CD have become less
than 3% of our sales since 2004, we will
be extremely limiting our stock of major label
New CD Releases from the following
labels: WEA-Warner, Elektra, Atlantic,
Capitol/EMI, Sony/BMG, UNI and their