The consequences of cutting corners

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By: Maria Johnson

If you’re seeking an environment that encourages weird self-expression and an open mind about art and music, take your fine fanny to the beautiful, strange city of Louisville, KY. From places such as Iroquois Park to Actors Theatre to The Blind Pig to Heini Brothers’ Coffee (there are eight of them!) to The Dot Fox to Carmichael’s Book Store to 21C Museum Hotel to The Grape Leaf to WHY Louisville, it’s quite the spot for an enjoyable day. Every store makes Louisville what it is, and the loss of a shop takes a little piece of the city with it. The recent closing of Ear X-Tacy, what used to be a local independent record store, brings many people to mourning.

“Now that they’re closing, it kind of feels like a part of Louisville history is disappearing because it’s just been there forever. It wasn’t just the music they sold that made it great, it was the experience you had,” said Junior Serene Conaway.

Of course, not everyone is all that disturbed by Ear X-Tacy’s demise.

“No big deal. It was out of date. I don’t think we should be too concerned that it closed,” said consumer Scott Johanningsmeier.

Nevertheless, tons of people were negatively affected from the business’ ceasing. It offered a very wide variety of CDs, vinyls, cassettes, tickets, DVDs, and novelties. It had the reputation as the go-to place for any genre of music you could possibly hanker after. A plethora of local musicians were greatly availed by the opportunities Ear X-Tacy created as a venue for shows and place of promotion.

“Ear X-Tacy was a very strong name in the city for music, so having it support us and behind us was a huge asset for us and helped build credibility. The thing that stood out the most was the cooperation with local music. Of all the venues in Louisville that we played at, it was the most accommodating,” said lead vocalist and dude who plays guitar and writes the songs for Jubalson, Brian Ott.

Jubalson played at Ear X-Tacy for their CD release and sold their CD at the store. This place has been quite the benefactor and helped numerous artists in their quest to share their music with their city.

According to its website, it was, “The kind of place where anyone from indie kid to octogenarian is welcome… where emerging local artists and national touring bands play free all-ages concerts each week… THE hub for music in Louisville for the past 26 years.”

If Ear X-Tacy was so serviceable to so many people, why did it close? A recent poll done at NAHS shows that 80 percent of students downloaded the majority of their music illegally, 8 percent purchased it online, and another 8 percent share with friends. Only 1 measly percent purchased it locally, and 3 percent said they got it another way. That 80 percent is shocking and unfortunate, and surely exposes much of the reason Ear X-Tacy is no longer standing.

The cost of buying a physical CD compared to the lack of cost downloading illegally makes it pretty tempting to break the law, especially if you’re music funds are looking pitiful.

“I am sad that it closed because it is always a loss when a local business closes. BUT I also rarely ever shopped there, so I am responsible for it closing. People (like myself) need to go out and patron local businesses so that this won’t KEEP happening!” said consumer Tabby Anderson.

It may seem like your choice hardly affects others, but I bet John Timmons, former owner of Ear X-Tacy who is now out of a job, would disagree. Basically, if we’re not paying musicians for the great art they are providing us, they won’t be able to share that art. Of course, there are some artists who are probably set for the rest of their life and illegal downloading won’t kill their career, like Ke$ha or Nicki Minaj, but note that I said ‘great art’. I’m talking about good music here. Music created by people around us who are doing what they love and working very hard to improve and disperse their sound amongst their community. These are people we can approach at shows and be friends with, not just like them on Facebook. We as their community should be supporting these artists and perhaps even, gee, enjoy their music. It’s sad how easy it is for high school students to fall into the clutches of 99.7DJX and not realize the magnificent music being played just across the bridge or in our own town. And kids only grow deafer to the beauty so close when venues for free and cheap concerts are closed down, limiting opportunities for local musicians. Even after becoming aware of the importance of buying locally, it’s hard to do when the best stores close.

“I bought all my CDs from there. After they closed I realized that the only way I could get the music I wanted would have to be online,” said consumer Michael Brown.

As convenient as it would be to listen for complete free, taking short cuts have proven to cause consequences. If continuous formation of music and relationships with musicians in our community is to be kept a priority, sacrifices sometimes have to be made. Support local artists by giving a little extra moola than for your typical download, or at least keep your eye out for cheap shows and encourage the persistent flow of their creative juices.

Poll credit: Amber Barnes, Devon Bedenbaugh, Mallory Anderson, Julia Fisher, and Alex Ballas

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The consequences of cutting corners