Editor’s note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
Asked to pinpoint exactly how he wound up as manager at a music store, Drew Metter draws a blank.
“I really just stumbled into what I thought would be a good part-time job,” he said. “Turned out, I really love it, and I’ve stayed this long.”
“This long” refers to the seven years Metter has spent at The Exclusive Company, 1259 Milton Ave., Janesville. Metter’s employer truly is in exclusive company, as it’s the only store of its kind in the city dedicated specifically to the sale of new and used albums, CDs and movies.
When he’s not selling vinyl or buying used DVDs, Metter enjoys being outside at concerts, fishing and golfing. He also spends a lot of time with his dogs, Kahau and Griffin.
To learn more about Metter and The Exclusive Company, stop by the store, visit its website at ExclusiveCompany.com or search for it on Facebook at “Exclusive Company Janesville.”
1. What are some considerations you have to take into account when managing a music store in Janesville? The needs and wants of the people of Janesville. I have to listen to what people are talking about, and I have to look at what’s trending on social media. And I have to know best how to move product, which is mostly about supply and demand.
2. In your experience, are albums outselling CDs or vice versa? CDs still rule the roost, but vinyl is very close on the heels. I think people in this area just prefer CDs because that’s what they’ve been accustomed to. I think once people see vinyl isn’t a gimmick, our sales for vinyl will increase.
3. Can you name a popular television show you either have never seen an episode of or that you don’t understand why it is popular? That’s most television shows. I guess the biggest is “Breaking Bad.” I just don’t get what is so intriguing about people cooking meth as a form of entertainment.
4. Share some of your personal favorite albums/CDs from your own collection: My all-time favorite album is “Low End Theory” by A Tribe Called Quest, followed by any album by these artists: Pink Floyd, Van Morrison, Wolfgang Dauner and Pharcyde. I’m missing a lot of punk 45s that I want, but I don’t really like 45s, so it’s a perpetual cycle of want and need.
5. Share something people would be surprised to find out about you. I love to garden, and I would love to climb a sequoia.
6. What goes into deciding what albums/CDs you stock at the store? I go by what our statistics and graphs show as far as ordering big-name artists. The smaller the artist, the harder it is to judge. Too many albums have sold better than I could have imagined. The biggest shelved album of this year was probably Jack White for this Exclusive Company.
7. Based on requests and feedback, what would you guess is the single most sought-after album/CD by Exclusive Company customers? I would say probably Tool and Volbeat. Janesville has a hard-rock pulse, and when an artist strikes a vein, the people remain loyal. It’s pretty cool since Tool hasn’t put out an album in 10 years.
8. Who gets to choose the music played on the store speakers, and how often does playing that music lead to the sale of that particular album/CD? We take turns playing an album. I would say about 20 percent of the time we get people buying the album being played or an album by the artist. On the other end of the spectrum, we get customers requesting us to change the music, which we happily do (because the customer is always right).
9. Aside from finding albums/CDs and other music-related items, why do you think customers wander in to Exclusive Company? Good conversation. I think we have a great rapport with our customers. I encourage employees to engage in conversations about the albums customers buy. That way, we can learn about new things as well the customer.
10. What are the greatest challenges facing independent music stores today? How do you overcome them? Amazon, streaming services, convenience and a lack of people wanting to get out and engage with other humans. Giveaways and special events are a big help.
11. Do you have any pets? I have two dogs. I love all animals. My goal is to have a pet grizzly.
12. Was there a music store nearby when you were growing up? How old were you when you bought your first album, where was it and what was it? I usually went to Media Play in Rockford, Illinois. I was 14 when I bought my first album, which was a greatest hits album by The Doors.
13. Do you play any instruments personally? I play guitar and trumpet, both poorly.
14. What is your take on the resurgence of vinyl? Is this just a fad or a returning standard? I believe it is here to stay. The quality is much better than before, and there are more high-fidelity things you can do with the equipment. Nothing is better than opening a new record you’ve been waiting for and then listening to it on your record player.
15. Does working in a music store dull your interest in listening to music away from work, or do you just love listening to music nonstop? I will listen to music all the time. I do have a weakness for NPR and sports radio while commuting to and from work, though.
16. Name the one item you own that you could not live without? My stereo equipment. I wouldn’t be happy if I couldn’t listen to music at home.
17. Settle an argument: A co-worker says real music fans never buy “Greatest Hits” albums. I say no harm. In your opinion, who’s right? If you are a true music fan, you will own all of your favorite band’s albums. Casual fans buy greatest hits, but there is no harm in only liking just a few songs from a band.
18. Acts such as Justin Bieber, Nickelback and others are often bashed by fans, yet they tend to sell a lot of albums. As a music store manager and a fan, are you ever torn philosophically when it comes to ordering music by bands you dislike in the best interests of the store and its customers? The best thing about managing a record store is the amount of music I can order for the store. I am happy when anything sells. We at Exclusive like to be a map to what we deem good music. It’s up to you to find your own true North.
19. If you could live in any era, musically, which would you choose and why? I would go back to when I was growing up. I had the golden age of hip-hop, along with bands such as Radiohead and Oasis that changed everything for me. If I had to pick another era outside my own it would be the ’60s, when everyone was experimenting with new sounds. There was Miles Davis, Stan Kenton and Ornette Coleman changing jazz. Plus The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin ... need I say more?
20. When you were a kid, did you dream about becoming manager of an independent music store? I did not. I just found myself looking for a part-time job. My friend, Josh, was working here at the time, so I applied, got the job and fell in love with it. Here I am, seven years later.