Blue Arrow Records, photo via Facebook
I know of very few vinyl obsessives who’ve never availed themselves of the global online music database at discogs.com. A crowdsourced and fact-checked project of 17 years standing so far, its every entry is a deep trove of information, including every known global release of any given official release, bootleg, promo, off-label release or vanity press. In all the years I’ve used it, I can think of maybe twice that a release about which I sought information was unknown to the database. All of this, it merits mentioning, is free of charge and free of advertising. There’s even a marketplace, putting users and shops who’re selling items together with frustrated crate-diggers who haven’t been able to find them the old-fashioned way. That feature has repeatedly posed a mortal threat to my checking account.
In the last few years, they’ve expanded their model, creating similar sites that seek to comprehensively catalog books, films, pieces of musical equipment, comics, and even posters—all with their own potentially wallet-decimating marketplaces. But their most exciting project, to my mind, is VinylHub, their endeavor to create an interactive map of every brick-and-mortar record store on Earth, a perfect resource for the world-traveling vinyl obsessive. I was in Bangkok last spring, and had I only known how close I was to the selection of international indie rock at 8 Musique and the DJ hub Quay Records, I probably could have come home with armloads of amazing finds. (Next time…) If you’re going to be in Ulaanbaatar, Azerbaijan, or Nairobi, and you’re just JONESING for a crate-dig, you’re covered.
8 Musique (Photos from the shops’ respective FB pages)
But as I have no major travel plans in the works for now, what’s been most fascinating to me has been looking for the outliers, and a recent post on Discogs’ blog has some interesting breakdowns for data geeks. The single city with the largest density of shops is Tokyo—had you asked me to guess I’d have probably said London. The most remote record store on Earth is a cluster of CD stalls above a produce market in the tiny Pacific island Kingdom of Tonga, but Vinyl Run, located on the tiny Indian Ocean island of Réunion, sure looks like a contender. The northernmost is in Alta, Norway; the southernmost is in Invercargill, New Zealand. But there remain huge uncharted swaths of the globe, and this is a crowdsourced project, so if you’re a Discogs member (which, again, is free) and you know of an unlisted shop, you’re free to contribute and make VinylHub as complete as possible. I mean, there have to be record stores in Vladivostok, no? Yet VinylHub lists none.
In the spirit of this post, we’ll share with you the trailer for the 2011 documentary Sound it Out: The Very Last Record Shop in Teesside, UK. According to VinylHub, the shop is still there. The entire doc is available for streaming on Amazon.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
How your pretentious local record store asshole got that way
Free GPS-based record store locator app for your cell phone
‘Records Collecting Dust’: New doc on collecting vinyl with Jello Biafra and other fanatatics