You might have heard that vinyl has come back in a massive way. Every week it seems like The Vinyl Factory - the editorial preservation site closely connected to FACT and Phonica Records - is updating us on some fantastic new record that the archaic but much cherished format has broken. Last we read, vinyl sales were at a 28 year high, and that they were drawing in more revenue for the industry than our new fangled streaming platforms. Many of the clued up dance music heads have been quick to point out that while the numbers allude to promise, we’re still largely where we were 10 years ago, and that the bulk of the sales are made up by Taylor Swift and more tedious reissues from Led Zeppelin and their ilk.
But, regardless of how the money flows, there is more interest in the format than there has been in decades, and that has resulted in the sale of online vinyl coming out of the hands of collectors and into the common market. While many of the great record stores of the '80s and '90s finally succumbed to the pull of the digital scene, some made the seamless transition to online vinyl sales.
The iconic London store, Phonica, has been a staple in the capital for the last 12 years. The site has a thoroughly and superbly curated selection of records in just about every dance genre you could possibly want, with your browsing experience powered by an excellent little player on top that gives you two-minute snippets of each record. They also have a massive and ongoing sale section that’s packed with treats, and a function that can notify you via email when new records become available in genres where you've signalled your interest.
The Brooklyn-based Mixtape Shop was originally an online platform that encouraged users to share the music they were into. In April 2016, however, it relaunched as a wicked online vinyl store. They have a fantastically built site, a broad selection of house, techno, soul and jazz, and are US-based - which, if you are too, spells good news for burdensome shipping fees.
With a web design that looks like an OWSLA bass kid’s t-shirt, Red Eye Records is a little overwhelming at a glance, but once you’re in there you’ll see a fantastic collection of music and a really useful ‘cue’ button for racking up tunes in the player.
"We like to give people a personal service," said Red Eye’s founder Tom to Bomb Sounds. “We have a very positive attitude towards our business and we want to prove our worth. Stock, prices and all that, are not bad either."
Red Eye are also well known for having very reasonable shipping costs worldwide.
The UK’s major online record retailer is a great first stop if you’re looking for anything specific and in the UK. The site states that they have about 700 new releases every week, and carry a stock of over 60,000 records, so you can lose yourself for hours and blow your wages with ease. One particular attribute we love is the list of major DJs supporting each record. The site itself is a bit 2004 and theoretically in need of a spruce up, but that’s not really in the spirit of vinyl is it?
Another European powerhouse here. Dee Jay is sort of the German equivalent of Juno, offering gear and merchandise as well as an extensive collection of the good stuff. Many of us will remember them for their kitschy as f**k turntable audio player. Reliable, good customer service and, as you would expect from a German dance music store, very highly curated.
While having a slick on-site player, a well catalogued selection of tunes and clerk-built top tens is nice, there’s nothing quite like seeing a big old list of tunes you can absolutely rely on to be stonkers. Invisible City Editions is a super diverse DJ duo out of Toronto (more good news for North American customers) and their record store has some phenomenal disco repressings and an outstanding collection of rare Afro bits.
This Dutch powerhouse is unquestionably one of the best record stores in the world, and has expanded its influence in the last few years by having a strong social game, regularly hosting drop-in mixes and streaming live from the store. They are the beating heart of Amsterdam’s house and tech wax scene, and their online store is packed with finely tuned stock.
We were initially going to compile this list without including Discogs, focusing on lesser known independent stores that are often overlooked. But after an impassioned back-and-forth, we decided that Discogs more than deserves to be on here. It’s the Ebay of vinyl, allowing collectors, distributors, brick-and-mortar stores and enthusiasts to buy and sell records easily. It has absolutely everything you could ever want (electronic music is its biggest section!) and you are still supporting small businesses.
The lovely folks at Trax & Wax came on our radar when we were looking into vinyl subscription boxes (most of which send you some random indie pop fluff that no one would actually buy). Specialising in house, techno and disco, we were well chuffed when they sent us a box of solid nu and old skool disco cuts.
You can read the article we wrote on them here.
It’s easy to see why The Vinyl Factory kicked off their ‘world’s best record stores’ series with Hard Wax: it has been the destination for the Berlin house and techno scene for the past 25 years. Originally founded by Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald (Basic Channel), it has adapted nicely to the online space. The site is no-f**king-nonsense, clean and well organised and contains much of what they will keep in stock.
Selling everything from equipment to clothes (called Clubwear) to CDs and DVDs, Decks.de isn't just a great place to get anything you need outside the music, its insanely high quality and specially curated selections will empty your wallet in no time — especially the disco section.