Redback Music to close, a victim of bytes

Well-known Wollongong music outlet Redback Music will close next month after more than 20 years in business.

Owners Robyn and Graham Letham made the decision with heavy hearts, after attempts to sustain the independent music outlet failed.

"We've really had to diversify in the last couple of years to keep going," manager Melissa Letham said yesterday.

"We've had to expand in other areas and sell books, guitars and sheet music and lots of different things but unfortunately it's not worth it [financially] any more.

"We've just started telling customers and they've been very disappointed - we have some customers who come in every day to browse and have a chat so they are going to be heartbroken."

Melissa and her siblings Rachel and James have worked with their parents at Redback since the family bought the business from John Jenkins in 2001.

Mr Jenkins, a pioneer of independent music in the Illawarra, established the store in the Crown St Mall in 1988. Since then the business has weathered the transition from vinyl through to compact discs, only to be crushed in recent years by online music downloads.

Rent rises, parking meters and a general lull in the economy have also contributed to the closure, Melissa said.

Illawarra music historian Warren Wheeler reminisced about the time he spent browsing titles at Redback Music as a young man, after learning of the impending closure yesterday.

"I used to go in there and flick through the titles, on the one hand intimidated but also in awe of this whole new world I was getting involved in," he said. "That was the first time I saw all of The Proton Energy Pills singles that they released - the stuff they used to have was very independent so you wouldn't hear it on the radio."

Redback Music will close its doors on July 13.

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