Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Patelson Music House

Joseph Patelson Music House, a venerable sheet music store near Carnegie Hall, is going out of business. One might think that a music store in that prime location would have ready supply of loyal customers, shopping there to honor tradition. But even an online catalogue couldn't rescue Patelson. I've been in there a number of times. Musicians generally know what they want or need to play, there isn't so much impulse buying in sheet music, but having the music in stock means everything. Good sheet music stores, even small ones, carried enormous inventories, most of it sat there unsold. I clerked at a record/sheet music store in New Brunswick that competed with a second, larger sheet music store one block away. Many of our customers were desperate Rutgers music students searching for (& often finding) classical music the other store didn't have. Might be a sonata for trumpet or oboe.

When I taught piano, I used to go with my piano teacher girlfriend to a large music warehouse in South Plainfield NJ that allowed us to browse, we always had a shopping list . We received a small discount, reselling the books to students at retail - the profit probably covered our time, gas, a couple of extra items, & lunch at Wendy's. We enjoyed the trip. Even then, a few years before the internet became important, mail order sheet music catalogues were gaining in popularity as publishers went to direct sales, continuing online. Strangely, an old-fashioned sheet music store clings to life around the corner from me, in what is now a Colombian retail district. Although the street is more lively & prosperous now than it was when I first became aware of the music store (back then there was a large, used paperback bookstore nearby), it has no connection to the neighborhood except longevity. I don't know how the guy stays in business; maybe he knows every church choir director in three counties. He always wears a jacket & tie.


Back in the day, when I worked with my family (remember, we had a music publishing company) I would do lead sheets for people. Not on my own, of course, I wasn't THAT good! But a lot of good songwriters can't even play an instrument, like they would compose songs on the piano just using chords, but singing the melody line, and not even knowing how to write it. So, we would write the lead sheets for the songs, which we would give to the artists that we were sending the songs to for their consideration.

We are getting old, aren't we, Rick. Sigh!
Post a Comment

<< Home
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?