The closure of the Ear X-Tacy record store has surprised much of Louisville’s music community, but the effect could be even more widespread.
Ear X-Tacy has frequently been a key player in the SoundScan system that tracks album sales. Sales at the store were often weighted. Depending on the year, one album sold at Ear X-Tacy could count as three or six sold elsewhere. So for artists planning their tours, heavy sales at Ear X-Tacy could make Louisville a more appealing stop.
“We think it really sucks,” says John Wetting, who is part owner of Zanzabar, a restaurant and music venue. “They helped us out a bunch doing what we do here and selling tickets for our shows and that kind of stuff. Basically we’ll all have to work a little harder now that they’re not here anymore.”
Ear X-Tacy also sold concert tickets and the doors and windows were frequently covered in posters for upcoming concerts.
Store manager Rebecca Mercer says SoundScan may start weighing sales at other shops, and while Ear X-Tacy’s closure may hurt the local scene in the short term, there are larger issues that affect venues, retailers and fans.
“It just seems like there’s been a lot of big changes in the music industry as a whole. I do think it’s going to be a little bit harder, but they know what they’re doing. Maybe there’s something we can do to help those people,” she says.
Mercer says she’s not sure what the future holds for Ear X-Tacy’s stock of music or for the name itself, which carries a strong sentimental and promotional value in Louisville.
Mercer further says closure was the only option for the store. Founder and owner John Timmons twice made public appeals for support when the store began losing ground to paid downloads and a general shift in the music business, and a third appeal was off the table.
“There’s only so many times you can ask for help,” says Mercer. “There was a great outpouring both times. The first time, especially, it really did translate to a lot of money and a lot of sales, but that quickly dwindled off.”
Mercer says the mysterious closure on Saturday was a legal matter, and consultations with the store’s lawyers were one reason why no official statement about the closure was made until Monday afternoon.