The sale sounded a bitter final bar for Tower, which operated 89 U.S. stores. Once the dominant music retailer in the country, the 46-year-old company attracted consumers to its spacious stores with flashy merchandising and a focus on deep catalog in a breadth of musical categories. Its store on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip was a legendary music-biz hangout. But Tower’s fortunes waned in the late ’90s as severe price competition from big-box merchants, the growth of Internet sales, piracy and some ill-advised international expansion eroded sales.
The disappearance of Tower’s familiar red-and-yellow logo will leave a gaping hole in the landscape of American music retailing. Los Angeles-based Virgin Megastores, which operates 20 Virgin Megastores, now will become the most prominent deep-catalog retailer.
Regina Kennedy prides herself on being a good Christian, so when the pastor at her Pentecostal church in Delaware called it a sin to download gospel songs without paying for them, her heart began to race.
The out-of-work driver went home and stared at her download collection, which included artists such as Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin and others. “The songs are so beautiful, and I couldn’t afford to buy them all,” the 43-year-old said. “I just didn’t know what to do.”
In the end, she deleted every song. She’s still not sure, though, that she was really stealing. “I don’t know what to think, really.”
Kennedy is hardly alone among conflicted fans of Christian music, but her decision to erase her library does set her apart from most of them, especially younger ones. Surveys show that born-again Christian teens are just as active in stealing and swapping music as their secular peers who pinch the latest Eminem rap hit or Kelly Clarkson power ballad.