Recently, indie singer/producer Angela Johnson’s new album made its debut on the coveted Billboard R&B Charts. This feat was accomplished with the help of independent music retailers. Statistics will tell the music world that physical CDs and mom and pop music stores are all but dead; however, as more artists take the route of the independent, the mom and pops have realized that there is still life for them by catering to these artists. Soul Train breaks down the top 10 Mom and Pop music stores for indie artists.
Located in the eclectic heart of Atlanta’s Little Five Points area, Moods Music has been a staple in the soul community for as long as most can remember. Owner Darryl “D-Nice” Harris has been a music connoisseur for years, and began the venture as a way to draw in all forms of music–from soul to hip-hop to world music–into a one stop shop of eargasms. In addition to carrying titles from major artists, Moods places local artists in its store on a consignment basis and offers promotional services as well. To contact Moods Music log onto moodsmusic.net.
Dusty Grooves – Chicago, IL
It’s not always easy to find those favorite records of yours from yesteryear. As a matter of fact, it’s usually impossible. For most of the vinyl heads of the music world, listening to your favorite songs doesn’t always seem satisfying through the cold digital speakers of laptop via iTunes or Spotify. The best thing to do would be to head over to North Ashland in Chicago and enjoy your habit. Don’t think they are limited to golden oldies. They boast an impressive collection of R&B, soul, jazz, funk, and hip-hop of today. For more information, head over to www.dustygroove.com.
Rasputins – Bay Area, CA
Providing the soundtrack to the Bay Area for over 40 years is not an easy task. However, Rasputin’s Music and DVDs has successfully pulled off the effort. Founded in Berkley, California in 1971, Rasputin’s is the largest music retail chain in the extended San Francisco Bay Area, boasting over 9 stores. They also have an in-house magazine and website, The Rasputin Manifesto that provides reviews of both major and independent artists. Check them out at www.rasputinmusic.com.
DBS Sounds – Atlanta, GA
South Atlanta has been famous for a lot of things involving hip-hop and R&B, but its best kept secret was a vision of Tobago Benito. From that vision came Riverdale, GA-based DBS Sounds. Known particularly for its concentration on urban music, DBS is one of the most recognized music entities in Atlanta’s urban community. For more information on DBS sounds, head over to www.dbssounds.com.
Music Experience – Chicago, IL
Another music epicenter of Chicago’s music scene is the Music Experience. More than just a record store, it is truly an experience. Their signature event has included big names such as Grammy Award winner John Legend and R&B hitmaker Will Downing. For a city with such a rich history in music, The Music Experience is the perfect heartbeat. Visit www.amusicexperience.com for more information.
Dimensions in Music – Baltimore, MD
A record store in the very true sense of the word, Baltimore’s Dimensions in Music is yet another mom & pop dedicated to keeping the culture of vinyl alive. Owner Larry Geter prides himself on the fact that he has such a strong connection with Baltimore’s music community of both fans and artists. To some it may seem like a farfetched goal to appeal to all ages, but according to Geter he “operates a store where a 60 year-old grandmother and her 16 year-old granddaughter can both walk away happy.” After being in business 35 years, I don’t think anyone at this point should question that statement.
Mr. Mike’s – Harrisburg, PA
The glitz and glamour of a Sam Goody or FYE can take away from what the bare essence of what a music store is. Such is the case with Harrisburg’s Mr. Mike Record store. In a very “urban” part of town lies a small store with one goal in mind: providing its community with the best in jazz, hip-hop, soul, and gospel. Even more appealing is that fans of all of those genres can be seen in the store all at the same time, happily adding to their collections.
Shatinique – Detroit, MI
The motor city’s favorite record shop may have more gold records than your favorite artist. Set in Detroit, MI, Shantinique Music and Sportswear has been in business for over 35 years. Named after owner Barry Beal’s wife, Shatinique leads the birthplace of “Motown” as one of the premiere area for physical distribution for major and local acts. Go to http://shantiniquemusicandsportswear.com for more information.
Serious Sounds – Houston, TX
Adaptation has been the key to the 20 year history of Marketta Rodriguez’ Houston-based Serious Sounds. The music business is ever changing, as such as retail. While others have fallen to the wayside of larger retail chains like Best Buy and Walmart, Rodriguez simply adapted. Serious Sounds introduced its download kiosks to customers, effectively giving them an alternative to iTunes. Rodriguez installed a computerized kiosk in the store that allows her loyal customers to download their favorite song for 99 cents. Rodriguez says it’s a Godsend for those who don’t have a computer or credit card to use iTunes. Once your song is downloaded Rodriguez can I place it on your mp3 player, sd card, thumb drive, or CD. You’re out the door in five minutes. By simply catering to the fans’ needs, Serious Sounds is still a serious contender in music retail.
BK Music – Richmond, VA
For nearly a decade BK Music has held the consumer in high regard. The Virginia-based retail store boasts everything from a vast selection of genres, down to the store’s “Mix and Burn” station. Fans can create their own compilation CDs based on their favorite playlists. Music lovers alike love its hometown atmosphere, but also enjoy its technological advances. Visit www.bkmusiconline.com.
*****Special thanks to George Littlejohn of Purpose music Group for helping with the research of these retailers. *****