Documenting the Fall of Tower Records

I still have CDs. I even go out and buy them — even though it’s becoming more and more difficult to find a decent selection at places other than second-hand record stores. That’s why the death of Tower Records is interesting to me. And, as this week’s featured Kickstart project shows, the end of an icon in physical music retailers has warranted the attention of many others as well.

All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records tracks, well, the rise and fall of Tower Records. It’s a documentary by Colin Hanks that focuses on Russ Solomon, the entrepreneur responsible for building one of the most recognizable record stores in the world.

The film follows Solomon’s rise, from the opening of the first Tower Records in 1960, to the creation of a unique corporate empire that somehow, despite the odds, managed to be both profitable and a unique haven for employees and customers alike. Although the company was massively successful (in the year 2000, Tower Records reported a billion dollar fiscal year) it soon began to feel the effects of a changing marketplace brought about by digital music distribution. In 2004 Tower Records filed for bankruptcy and by the end of 2006 almost every one of its stores had closed. Pretty striking, what can happen in only six years.

Hanks and co. are looking to track the cultural, technological and economic changes of more than forty years of the music business with the film — something that could result in a fascinating artifact of our rapidly changing world and ever increasing devotion to digitization. In much the same way that one of our previously featured Kickstarter docs, Arcade: The Last Night in Chinatown Fair, sought to remember a little piece of our culture’s history, so too does All Things Must Pass. With our current, brisk level of technological advancement threatening to turn almost anyone’s passions into antiquity over the span of a handful of years, it’s worth taking the time to document our past as we hurtle into the future and it looks like that’s exactly what the movie is intending to do.

While seed money and initial resource gathering is already underway, financing the whole documentary can’t be done entirely without assistance. Money raised through the Kickstarter drive will be put toward equipment rental, production and travel expenses, all necessary costs involved with getting the film to see the light of day. There’s some neat swag set up as rewards for helping out as well. Contributers to All Things Must Pass can receive items that range from a signed (by Russ Solomon and Colin Hanks) copy of the eventual DVD, their name listed in the credits, a special 7″ vinyl recording of film interviews, trips to the Los Angeles screening and more.

To learn more about the documentary check out its Facebook page, Twitter, Colin Hanks’ blog and, of course, its Kickstarter page. All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records will be funded on Friday, July 15th at 12.07am EST if the goal of $50,000 is met on time.