GOSHEN — Steve Martin thinks Goshen’s poised to buck a trend he views as fast-food music.
Martin will open Ignition Music this week in the old auto building in the 100 block of East Washington Street. The music store that will partner with radio station 91.1 The Globe and next-door business Better World Books to provide the non-profit Ignition Garage concert series.
“We want a strong partnership between radio, retail and venue,” Martin said. The “small, intimate venue” will fill a gap for artists between performing bars and coffeehouses and much larger theaters.
“We hope to foster that direct connection between the artist and the people,” he said.
“Young people have not had a chance to experience this. Where are they going to go? They can’t get into night clubs.”
Downtown Goshen is the perfect spot to make the idea work, Martin said. “There’s a strong group of young, creative people. There’s a strong artist presence,” he said. “I’m not sure this would work anywhere else but Goshen.”
Jason Samuel, general manager of The Globe, helped hatch the idea for the store, the concerts and the radio facility. His son and his son’s “friends don’t own CDs. He’s in high school. They don’t own vinyl,” and they’re “consumed with the convenience” of digital music, Samuel said.
Both men said music just isn’t as good when it’s digitized and compressed, and among music purists, vinyl stands as the anti-mp3.
“There’s a tactile experience there that’s kind of missing in our convenient, fast-food culture,” said Martin. “I had a friend who said this is the equivalent of the slow-food movement.”
Martin has turntables, headphones, whole-house streaming equipment, thousands of CDs, lots of used records but also new records. Many new records come with a download code to get a digital copy of the album, too. “Young people get this because they’re going to download the album, and for only five to 10 dollars more, they get the vinyl.”
The business will not only introduce a new generation to good-quality source material, Martin said, it will re-introduce baby boomers to what they left behind. “They don’t really recognize what they lost until they see it, then it resonates with them,” he said.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, music sales in the U.S. have dropped 47 percent since 1999.
“The major disruption of the industry is negatively affecting the artists,” Martin said, because labels take fewer chances. Labels have consolidated, retail is dominated by big box stores that only stock a few hundred titles.
Much of Martin’s stock of CDs came, in fact, from a failed music store.
While conventional wisdom may be that this venture is a huge uphill climb, Martin said the response he’s getting from people is just the opposite.
“I haven’t solicited anybody, but they just keep showing up with big boxes of records,” he said.
“The response has been, ‘I can’t believe somebody hasn’t done this.’ They did 25 years ago.
“It’s like so many things in our culture. I was a business consultant and worked in corporate life for over 25 years. I consider myself a pretty good strategic planner.” That has him looking at trends and changes.
“If you take the three ‘Ps’ of marketing: Product, placement or promotion and price, those are the traditional levers that business people, marketers use to get market share, increase the sale of a product. What people have forgotten, these are Steve’s Ps: They’ve forgotten people and they’ve forgotten place.”
Record labels attribute the drop in sales to piracy, but Martin said, “I say what hurt their business is a crappy experience and poor distribution.”
Here, Martin said, “We’ve started booking shows. We’re holding people off, saying, ‘Let us get our feet on the ground and get the kinks worked out of this.’ We hope to foster that direct connection between the artist and their audience, the people. That’s what it’s about.”