A Music Lovers Mecca
A Look at the Worlds Largest Independent Music Store
In a world of music streaming and digital releases, it may feel like there’s no place for real record stores anymore. Amoeba Music in Hollywood, CA emphatically proves that theory wrong.
“We’ve always been very much a destination location for over a billion types of music,” says Marc Weinstein, the cofounder of Amoeba Music. “We are very specifically devoted to and celebrate independent artists alongside major popular labels.”
The company started in 1991, at a time when major retailers were swallowing up independent and local chain stores, drastically reducing the types of music available. In retaliation, Weinstein and his partner, David Prinz, started their first store in Berkley, CA, creating an independent music mecca. The music community took notice, and they have since expanded to Hollywood and San Francisco. “Personally, I’ve been working in record stores since I was in high school. It’s the only job I’ve ever known,” he laughs.
The Hollywood store sells everything from vinyl to CDs and DVDs, too difficult to find Rock & Roll t-shirts and merchandise. Weinstein explains they buy large collections of both old and new releases and even have products that no other store carries. And the prices range from $1 to $100, so everyone’s wallet stays happy. “I think the best thing about Amoeba is that you can go into a ‘big box store’ and find so much independent music available.”
There’s even a stage at the back of the store for concerts. Everyone from local to internationally acclaimed artists (including Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello) have performed on that stage. The best part is the concerts are always free.
Amoeba Music in Hollywood's 43,000 square foot site reigns supreme as the largest independent music store in the country, taking up a whole city block. “It’s an acre of music,” Weinstein says. “It’s the biggest record store on Earth.” Don't stress about not finding what you’re looking for. The store’s set up like a department store, with the different genres in different sections and a knowledgeable staff member on hand. “We go to great lengths to organize things in a way that anyone can find things. You don’t need the staff, but they’re always available to help.”
And Weinstein is certainly proud of the staff. Each member is tested to determine their knowledge of music, and through that which section of the store they should be in. “We have a passionate staff who collectively know everything about music. You can feel the passion on both sides of the counter.”
Customers are another aspect he speaks highly of. “We cater to every taste and every lifestyle. It’s a great place to people-watch,” he says. From Rastafarians to families to punks to kids just figuring out their own tastes, the clientele is certainly eclectic. “If you want to see all the people who live in LA, just come into the record store. It really gives you a chance to see how diverse the city is.”
Amoeba Music has actually been named one of the best record stores in the USA by Rolling Stone. “It’s just such a big personally store,” says Weinstein. But what matters most to him is that the store provides real, physical music. “We firmly believe that a hard copy is the highest form of love for an artist. It’s sort of the ultimate destination for people who are passionate about records.”
-By Ettractions Digital Content Editor, ALLISON BENNETT
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