Classical music specialist record store Fish Fine Music has announced it will close forever on December 21. The Sydney store, which opened as The Record Collector in 1982, is the last remaining classical music specialist shop in the country, following the closure of Melbourne’s Thomas’ Music last year. Operated and owned by the same family as when it opened, the store moved to a larger space at Town Hall Square in 2016, after more than ten years in the Queen Victoria Building.

Fish Fine MusicFish Fine Music

“It has been a great pleasure to meet and serve so many like-minded, wonderful customers. As this is the end of an era, we look back on so many years of being part of what was such a vibrant industry,” said the store’s owner Paul Nemeth when he announced the closure. “Many will ask why we are closing and it is briefly that record companies continue monthly to delete hundreds of titles in favour of streaming. The difficulty this causes for us in getting regular and consistent supply, along with the vagaries of releases and distribution, have made retail just too difficult. As the last Classical retailer, shoplifting has reached such a level that we are unable to cover the losses on the margins we work under.”

“While CDs have enjoyed over 30 years of success as the main source of music distribution, streaming has now replaced it and will continue to grow. It too will change, but ‘Will it be here in its current form in years to come?’ is the question,” he said. “Collecting albums in physical form still remains the safest bet to me, but the Cloud is shaping up to be a safe storage centre and is set to be the future for collectors.”

“For long-time classical CD and LP collectors, the closure of Thomas’ in Melbourne and now Fish Fine Music in Sydney marks the death of a retail era,” says Limelight reviewer and avid record collector Phillip Scott. “Collecting is no longer a specialty. We all have access to a worldwide ‘cloud’, where you pay not once for a piece of music but over and over, every time you listen to it. Streaming? It’s like an art gallery that boasts an enormous catalogue but has nothing hanging on the walls.”

Fish will still be taking customer orders until December 7, Nemeth said, and continue with new releases until November 20. The store will be hosting a party on December 21 at midday, “to celebrate our 50 years as a retailer of music and 35 years as a classical specialist.,” Nemeth said. “We hope many of our loyal customers who, along with our staff, have been part of our friendly organisation for so many decades will join us for memories and a drink.”

Update: Our readers have informed us that Perth’s Zenith Music, while not exclusively a classical music specialist record store, is alive and well and celebrating 50 years.