An Interactive Map of Every Record Shop in the World

Arriv­ing in a new city usu­al­ly means find­ing the near­est decent gro­cery, phar­ma­cy, cof­fee shop, book­store, laun­dry, etc. And before near­ly every musi­cal whim could be sat­is­fied with a few clicks, it also meant for many peo­ple find­ing the near­est record store. Even the local strip mall chain might hold a sur­prise or two. But the true finds appeared among the small pro­pri­etors, mer­chan­dis­ers of dusty LPs in wood­en bins and keep­ers of local music scene lore. Enter­ing a well-curat­ed music shop can feel like walk­ing into a medieval apothe­cary. What­ev­er ails you, you’re sure to find a rem­e­dy here. If it doesn’t work, there remains a cer­tain mag­ic in the trans­ac­tion. We con­tin­ue to believe in music even when it lets us down.

But have we lost faith in the record shop? I hope not. Online stream­ing and buy­ing has the regret­table effect of flat­ten­ing every­thing into the same two dimen­sions with­out the aura of phys­i­cal media and the musi­cal para­pher­na­lia we find in real life stores. Should you be among the unlucky who lack a local music store, fear not.

You can recov­er the romance by trav­el­ing to any one of the thou­sands of shops world­wide that are cat­a­logued and mapped on Vinyl­Hub, a crowd-sourced “endeav­or,” Ron Kretsch writes at Dan­ger­ous Minds, “to cre­ate an inter­ac­tive map of every brick-and-mor­tar record store on Earth, a per­fect resource for the world-trav­el­ing vinyl obses­sive.”

Brought to us by mas­ter­minds behind Discogs and their sim­i­lar spin-off online cat­a­logs for books, movies, etc., this project might get us out of our chairs—maybe even out of the country—and into new places to dig through the crates. But even if we’re not inclined to leave the house, Vinyl­Hub offers a wealth of fas­ci­nat­ing infor­ma­tion. “The sin­gle city with the largest den­si­ty of shops,” we learn, “is Tokyo,” though “had you asked me,” Kretsch writes, “I’d have prob­a­bly said Lon­don.” I’d have guessed New York, which comes in at a sur­pris­ing 7th place.

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.

The UK is cur­rent­ly sec­ond in num­ber of shops by coun­try: 537, with .8443 shops per 100,000 inhab­i­tants. The Unit­ed States at num­ber one has almost triple that num­ber, but also over five times the pop­u­la­tion. These fig­ures are pro­vi­sion­al. Much of the world remains uncharted—at least as far as record shops are concerned—and Discogs mem­bers con­tin­ue to sub­mit new entries. Should you find a blank spot on the map that needs a lit­tle record icon, you can join for free and con­tribute to the Vinyl­Hub com­mu­ni­ty. While there’s noth­ing like a trip to a new music store, even if you’re only in it for the data, you’ll find much here to inspire.

Over at the Discogs blog, we learn sev­er­al more facts, such as the two shops that are far­thest apart (Madrid’s Citadel Records and Star Sec­ond-Hand Book-Music in Palmer­ston North, New Zealand: 19,978 km) and the loca­tion of that most remote shop (the mar­ket in Nuku’alofa in Ton­ga, address: “Upstairs of wet mar­ket”). VinylHub’s “Explor­er” map uti­lizes Google Maps fea­tures to give you unlim­it­ed access to every region in the world. Zoom in to see the num­bers by city and the indi­vid­ual loca­tions of each and every shop in the data­base. You can even find record stores list­ed in Pyongyang—or rather record sec­tions of sev­er­al hotel book­shops. I would­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly rec­om­mend mak­ing the trip, but it’s inter­est­ing to imag­ine what odd trea­sures we might find there—or at any of the oth­er sev­er­al thou­sand shops from around the world.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

25,000+ 78RPM Records Now Pro­fes­sion­al­ly Dig­i­tized & Stream­ing Online: A Trea­sure Trove of Ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry Music

You Can Have Your Ash­es Turned Into a Playable Vinyl Record, When Your Day Comes

How Vinyl Records Are Made: A Primer from 1956

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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