In 2015 there are quite a few ways for someone to get an album of their favorite band from buying it digitally or from an online site such as Ebay or Amazon to a big box store. Yet for many in the hard rock, metal and punk community their preferred way of buying is from a brick and mortar old school record store. The RVA has just that in the form of BK Music just off of Forest Hill Ave in the city’s South Side. We had the pleasure of sitting with owner Bill Kennedy to discuss the state of buying music and many other topics as people get set for the holiday season of music buying.
Examiner (Keith Ashley): What makes BK something different from where people can buy music in Richmond?
Bill Kennedy: Well the first thing is the service, I think we have the best selection as well, nobody can everything but we can order it for you, we have access to all of the labels and get pretty much what anybody needs. I think our prices are fair too, our value is good.
Examiner: In a time when so many people were downloading or buying music online why do you think people have been going back to brick and mortar stores now in 2015?
BK: That’s a good question, to me it’s the touch and feel of the product, you can open it up and see who’s playing bass on the record, who’s producing it, who’s playing drums, all of these give you clues to the other things you may not get (on a download), I think people were missing all of that. It’s the complete package, instead of getting a picture of a tree, it’s like why not get the whole landscape.
Examiner: Why do you think albums, vinyls as we like to say are making a huge comeback?
BK: It’s a softer sound, a more intimate sound, it’s a more social way of sharing music, instead of just having ear buds in and listening to a song by yourself, albums are a more shared experience. You generally put it on and have other people there, it’s not just you.
Examiner: What do you think makes a good record store?
BK: Paying attention to what customers want, not just trying to blaze a path in your own direction, what you think is the right way to go, it’s always important to get what the people coming through your doors want not what you want them to get. That to me is always what’s more important, if I only had what I like we’d only have about two bins instead of the wracks upon wracks we have.
Examiner: Where do you see the future of record stores or where people can buy music?
BK: That’s an interesting question. It’s even though more people are coming around to buying more physical products, the reality is that digital is a bigger part of the millennial generation than the physical items, in five years I don’t know where it’s going to be. There’s still going to places that have vinyl and used product but I can see places like Walmart, Target, just getting out of the music selling all together, the physical stuff, and then when that happens these record labels are going to freak out. Even though they carry a small amount as far as a selection is concerned, they still sell a huge amount of say Adele or Taylor Swift, if the labels lose that that will mean a lot.
Examiner: If you had to pick five albums in this great store that you like the most what would they be?
BK: Oh that’s not fair! Some that always stay with me, it’s only because I’m bias to what I grew up with, Jackson Brown, I would have to say Steely Dan “Can’t Buy a Thrill”, you have to throw the Beatles in there, then the Rolling Stones “Get Your YaYa’s Out” was a big part of my life. Recently I’ve been crazy about Jason Isbell.
Examiner: How do you feel local music stores help out local music?
BK: Well we carry the artist locally, we don’t make much money on them, and we tend to favor the money go to the artist, in many cases we just buy the albums outright and not on consignment so the money goes directly to the artist. So they’re paid for the product, that’s what we try to do. If there are performances available, we’ll do that, we’ll offer them space up front to promote it. We do what we can.
BK Music has been a RVA music store staple since the 90’s and is located at 2833 Hathaway Rd in the Stratford Hills shopping center and is open seven days a week. For any information on sales, artist in stores or upcoming album releases please go the BK Music Facebook page or their official website.