My Life Of Music–And Now My Business

31 October 2015 Written by  By Adia Douglas
Published in November 2015 Articles

The best in life comes when you can earn an income for doing something that you would have gladly done for no pay.

I’m only 16 years old and have already taken a giant step towards that goal through my new store, RPM Records.

I was born into music. We like to joke that I became part of the popular music scene before birth because Dennis Erokan, owner of BAM Magazine, hosted a baby shower for my mom when she was pregnant with me. Love for music is only half of the background of my business venture. Mom and Dad are successful entrepreneurs. As a child, I used to sit behind them in their home office watching them work on marketing and advertising projects. I felt a strong desire to someday do what they were doing.

My dad, Jason, spent his adult life in a passionate pursuit of owning a copy of each of the notable LPs (33 RPM vinyl records) ever produced. As a result, the rooms and hallways of our home were usually filled with the sounds from our home stereo system of Dad’s current selection from his immense library. Dad loves all kinds of music from Willy Nelson to Iron Maiden. Our home was often filled with live music, as well, because Dad is an accomplished musician, performing with local rock bands and playing whatever instrument was lacking including drums, bass, or guitar.

I quickly developed his diverse musical taste and became a young fan of Bowie, Led Zeppelin, ACDC, and especially classic rock. When I was four years old, I became fixated on “Rebel-Rebel” by David Bowie. When the iPod Shuffle came out, Dad gave me one loaded with music that I fell in love with, such as Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” and Depeche Mode’s “Strange Love,” which I would listen to over-and-over. We go to a lot of concerts. I attended my first one when I was seven years old. Avril Lavigne was the performer, and I ended up standing on my chair and screaming, “Be my mom!” at Avril, which must have been hugely amusing to the people around me since at the time Avril was only 14 years old herself. I listened to everything and as a child would amuse my folks’ friends by singing the words of whatever song they referred to. I remember somebody talked about “You’re all I’ve Got Tonight” by The Cars and I belted out all the words. I would amaze Dad’s friends by not only knowing a song they were talking about, but could usually tell them what album the song was on.

When CDs began to revolutionize the world of musical recording, Dad augmented his musical collection with CDs of important new albums that weren’t available on LPs. Nevertheless, whenever possible vinyl remained our go-to medium. We always stop at garage sales and flea markets in our search for new additions for the collection. When on vacations, we would always look up the local record stores and spend a few minutes or, if the place was large, perhaps an hour browsing through the LP albums. Dad is familiar with every record store in California, I think. His awesome collection includes rare items that aren’t available for purchase even in some of the famous record stores.

Our preference for vinyl is more than a mere result of quirky taste. To a musically trained and discriminating ear, analog recording devices are able to create sound quality that is simply impossible to match by any digital recording, no matter how sophisticated or state-of-the art the equipment. Of course, we aren’t the only ones who are aware of the superior quality of vinyl recordings. There was always a relatively small but energetic LP industry that resisted digital’s obvious alluring qualities.

Now that digital media has lost its revolutionary buzz and has joined the consumer electronic universe, an increasing number of people are returning to vinyl in order to enjoy the purity of sound that they formerly had been used to. Members of the Millennial and X-generations are beginning to experience the joys of vinyl recordings as what seems to them a revolutionary discovery.

We were in a good position to capitalize on the movement back to vinyl because, not only had my father spent decades assembling a priceless collection of records, he also has an enormous inventory of extra recordings filling up cabinets and bookshelves in our house and overflowing into a storage unit.

The idea of leveraging all those records into a business occurred to me one day when we were driving to Concord’s Rasputin Records. I suddenly realized that East County residents who, like me, loved vinyl had to drive to Concord to buy quality LPs. It seemed like a waste of time and fuel because we had enough albums lying around to fill the shelves of a small store and save those people the trip. Mom & Dad instantly warmed to the idea and began looking for retail spots where I could open a record business. At first the idea seemed like a lot of “blue sky” wishful thinking, but things quickly started coming together and it suddenly dawned on me that this was really going to happen.

Sometimes things seem to take place as though they are supposed to happen because things began to fall into place almost as soon as we came up with the idea. For example, a retail space in a nice location in Sunset Plaza, next to Lumpy’s Express, opened up just when we needed it. Floodgates seemed to open and to shower us with things we need. Inventory began rolling in from many different sources. Display racks and storage crates we needed for the business just seemed to come out of nowhere. I am a woman of faith and believe that God has been leading us through this.

Since I am only 16 years old, and therefore not able to sign a legal contract, my mom Christine, is my partner in the business. Dad and Mom are both giving me a tremendous amount of support, encouragement, and advice but neither of them want to help manage the store. They want me to manage it and get some knowledge of how a retail business actually works through hands-on experience of running my own show.

We named the business RPM Records. RPM is a label on every standard phonograph marking a switch that regulates the Rotations Per Minute at which the phonograph table would play. The settings on the switch are 78, 45, 33.3 and 16. LPs all play at 33.3.

RPM Records opened for business last month. The Grand Opening will be November 7. It will be grand indeed. A professional deejay from DLP Entertainment will be entertaining the crowd.

We are intentionally beginning in a small, 500-square foot easily managed space. We will outgrow it and move into larger accommodations as our inventory and business grow. The goal is for the business eventually to become a destination — the go-to record store in this part of the County. Aficionados and collectors will drive to Brentwood to visit RPM Records, just as we have driven to places in order to see what’s come in at notable record stores in other locations.

One of our main priorities is to expand music taste to the public. We’ll continually play music of various styles and write on a chalkboard new artists that people might want to sample. We will specialize in vintage records, with signed platinum records and posters. We will also offer for sale CDs, plus comics, jewelry, games, and anything else with a rock and roll theme.

I guess I’ve got the soul of an entrepreneur but it is still contained within the body of a schoolgirl. I’m a junior at Byron’s Vista Oaks Charter School. I serve as a volunteer at the school helping younger students with their homework. I’m a member of three leadership groups — Prom, Newsletter, and Yearbook. Except when it came to music, I was initially a shy insecure young girl. I ended up becoming involved in leadership and service roles because one of the teachers, Charmaine Abasolo, recognized the potential that I had kept carefully hidden, and helped me break out of my shell.

Charmaine will deserve some of the credit for whatever success RPM Records will have. It really does “take a village” they say, and I’m profoundly grateful for the people who have assisted me in taking this huge step. Dad, Mom, and a host of relatives and friends have gathered around me, encouraging and helping me. I’m so thankful to them and especially to God for giving me the will and resources to start my own business.

Come by and visit the store. Tell me your favorite piece and I’ll play it for you. I bet I’ll have it in stock.

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